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Chained to a Dead Marriage: Can We Fix the Agunot Issue?

An agunah, in classical Jewish Law, is a woman whose husband is unable or unwilling to grant a divorce. β€œIt is literally a woman chained to the bonds of a dead marriage,” says Lisa Fishbayn, director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion, and the Law (GCRL) at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Secular law evolved over the 20th century to grant men and women an equal right to ask for divorce, share marital assets, and receive custody of children in accordance with the children’s best interests; Jewish Law says that a marriage can only be terminated by a divorce decree, known as a get, which must be delivered by the husband, even if he abandons the family or refuses to grant the divorce out of spite. Currently, GCRL is collaborating with top scholars on this issue to better understand the problem and contemplate solutions. Here is a glimpse into what they are exploring.

Michelle Cove, Editor
mcove@brandeis.edu