"…Despite the fact my ex was jailed, Ultra-Orthodox religious organizations (especially the Agudah--where Reb Moishe was the HEAD OF THE MOETZES GEDOLEI HADOR) jumped all over Reb Moishe to rescind the court order, which in turn forced him to sit down with the speaker of the NY State Assembly, his neighbor, Sheldon Silver, to craft a law that says that if you get a divorce in NY state and EITHER spouse prevents the remarriage of the other, they get neither custody or community property. (Thereby avoiding the problem of what people call a 'forced get.'…"
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
Jeanette Friedman writes:
That whole Gitel Dodson get publicity thing is burning my butt because the real story is NOT being told. This is the story as I see it: Her husband's great-grandfather, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, was the author of the Get Law in NY which frees agunot. He married me to my husband in the late 60s, and after I was battered and bruised and had enough, he sent me to civil court for my decree, in which he asked the lawyer to put in a clause that said if my ex wouldn't give me a get, he would have to be held in contempt of court. Reb Moishe was considered the greatest halakhic (Jewish law) decider in the world. (And as far as I am concerned, is still the last word on many issues, despite the fact that there are rabbis today who treat him as if he knew nothing about anything and everything he decided was wrong--especially about women.)
Despite the fact my ex was jailed, Ultra-Orthodox religious organizations (especially the Agudah--where Reb Moishe was the HEAD OF THE MOETZES GEDOLEI HADOR) jumped all over Reb Moishe to rescind the court order, which in turn forced him to sit down with the speaker of the NY State Assembly, his neighbor, Sheldon Silver, to craft a law that says that if you get a divorce in NY state and EITHER spouse prevents the remarriage of the other, they get neither custody or community property. (Thereby avoiding the problem of what people call a "forced get." [See it's ok to break a guy's knees, as in the case of Rabbi Epstein who made thousands torturing recalcitrant husbands for tens of thousands of dollars per case] but it is not OK to use civil law.)
The case law behind the Silver Get Law was Nemtzov vs. Nemtzov (my first marriage), the lawyer was a shark named Morris Halpern and the judge was a fellow by the name of Irving Saypol, known best for sending Ethel and Julius Rosenberg to the chair. That was more than 40 years ago. (I think we finally finished the case in 1972 or 1973--I have had a new, busy life since then, but it bothers me when people never get the real story right.)
My ex ignored both laws. After SEVEN years, (and there are women in Israel and the US who have been "chained" for DECADES, my father gave my ex a ton of money and I was freed. I did not hire a PR person, and neither did the thousands of women still trapped in rotten marriages. If you check the stats in Israel and with the "non-profit" agunah organizations that already exist and do good work (as opposed to starting yet another (there are at least four of them in the Greater NY Metro area that operate internationally) you will find that 75% of the Orthodox women in Israel (and it is a good guess that thousands of married women in the States) have been told by their husbands that if they seek a divorce they will never see their kids again, will never be permitted to remarry and will live in the gutter. It's called get-mail.
This is classic: How to make a big fuss on a little case, without telling the most ironic part of the story...which is that her ex-husband's great-grandfather literally risked his life to free agunot, and his great-grandson is a piece of garbage who spat on his great-grandfather's legacy. Reb Moishe lived in a tiny apartment on the banks of NYC's East River, down on the Lower East Side, and his life was threatened repeatedly with bomb scares and other murderous schemes because he was "freeing" women. His great-grandson could use some life lessons in human decency.
There are people in Brooklyn who have been agunot for 40 years. Their husbands were permitted to remarry while they were in limbo because they paid off the Jewish courts and got what they call "permission from 100 rabbis" to remarry, while their ex wives wallow in poverty, never able to remarry or have children while they hang in limbo.
THAT is what this story is about. That and the fact that these organizations are fighting valiantly to free these women. And that a group of Modern Orthodox rabbis in Israel and the States plan to open an agunah court this very month to free these women, flying in the faces of the Ultra-Orthodox rabbis who want to keep those women chained because they are a source of income, under the table, for most of them. There are only a few exceptions to those rules...the Bet Din of America, the new court now being organized, and a court called Bet Yosef try their best. Another non-profit get organization, considering who and what stand behind the ones that already exist, including the very active one at Yeshiva University called ORA, is a waste of people's time and money.
Gitel Dodson is a big deal not because she got a get after three years... She is a story because of the irony about who her great-grandfather-in-law was--the part of the story that was never told. Otherwise, she is infinitely luckier than most of the agunot in Israel and America.
And that's the way I see it.