"…According to a letter by Rabbi Krauss defending the IBD against Rabbi Schachter’s attack, Rabbi Blau agreed to resign in exchange for an agreement that Rabbi Schachter would not publicly attack the court. But according to the letter, Rabbi Schachter backtracked on the agreement within a few weeks and cited Rabbi’s Blau’s departure as evidence of the court’s questionable status. Rabbi Moshe Kahn, a faculty member at YU’s Stern College for Women who teaches in the Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Study for women agreed to serve as an IBD judge after Rabbi Blau stepped down. But within a week he was pressured to resign.…[because there were fears] that the roshei yeshiva at YU…would dissuade their students from dating women in the GPATS program.…"
Above: Rabbi Hershel Schachter
The Jewish Week has an in depth article on the difficulties faced by the new International Beit Din (IBD) founded by Modern Orthodox Rabbi Simcha Krauss to free agunot (women whose husbands refuse to grant them a Jewish divorce document known as a get).
Agunot are trapped. They can't marry. They can't cohabit with a man whom they are not married to. And any children they may have conceived out of wedlock are classified as mamzerim (bastards), and mamzerim and their descendants forever are not allowed to marry 'pure' Jews.
Therefore, halakha orders rabbis to do everything possible to free agunot and to do everything possible not to designate (or out) anyone as a mamzer (bastard).
But the victims here are women and children, and women and children are often powerless while the abusive get-withholding husband quite often isn't. And in the world of rabbis, a little power and money goes a long way. And so does misogyny, which is the mother's milk of many right-wing Orthodox and haredi Jews.
So solutions to the agunah problem – even solutions used by sages at the time of the Talmud – are no longer kosher.
Krauss's IBD has reportedly freed almost 20 agunot over the past two years, and that success bothers more conservative rabbis within Modern/Centrist Orthodoxy and Yeshiva University. And that has led to threats and intimidation against rabbis who support Krauss.
Behind all that harassment and coercion is a petulant, infantile man who has the emotional maturity of a young child, Rabbi Hershel Schachter. Schachter is YU's top rabbi and the Orthodox Union's co-chief-posek (decisor of Jewish law).
Schachter has said awful things about women, awful things about rabbinic opponents, and awful things in general. He also failed to report child sex abuse (although to be fair, he does seem to regret that somewhat) and got involved with a hair-brained scheme that would have allowed a now-disgraced haredi rabbi, Leib Tropper, to control all conversions to Judaism worldwide. Schachter also has consistently mover Modern Orthodoxy religiously rightward, so much so that is doubtful any of the early students of the late head of Modern Orthodoxy, Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik, would recognize it. Schachter is a very smart man, to be sure, but he isn't an emotionally healthy man or a kind man or an empathetic man. Instead, at 74 Schachter is an infantile, priggish, child-man.
According to the Jewish Week's report, among the things Schachter did to try to stop Krauss was lie and have his proxies threaten and extort rabbinic opponents, including a threat to tell YU rabbinical students not to date or marry YU girls studying under one of these rabbinic opponents in YU:
…Rabbi Yosef Blau, the spiritual adviser at Yeshiva University for nearly five decades and well-known for his advocacy confronting sexual abuse within the Orthodox community, has been a judge on the IBD since its founding. Every decision made by the court included Rabbi Blau, a well-known voice of authority within the community. Rabbi Yehuda Warburg, a dayan, or, religious judge, for the past 15 years, is the third judge on the court.
A few weeks ago Rabbi Blau was pressured to leave the court by colleagues within YU who disagreed with the court’s actions. Though Rabbi Blau declined to comment directly, a letter he submitted to Rabbi Krauss with his resignation cited a desire to “prevent controversy within YU” as his reason for departure.
According to a letter by Rabbi Krauss defending the IBD against Rabbi Schachter’s attack, Rabbi Blau agreed to resign in exchange for an agreement that Rabbi Schachter would not publicly attack the court. But according to the letter, Rabbi Schachter backtracked on the agreement within a few weeks and cited Rabbi’s Blau’s departure as evidence of the court’s questionable status.
Rabbi Moshe Kahn, a faculty member at YU’s Stern College for Women who teaches in the Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Study for women agreed to serve as an IBD judge after Rabbi Blau stepped down. But within a week he was pressured to resign. Though Rabbi Kahn declined to comment, a source within the university said pressure was put on the rabbi to step down for fear that his affiliation with the court would negatively impact funding for the GPATS program. The source also said that there were concerns that the roshei yeshiva at YU, who opposed the IBD, would dissuade their students from dating women in the GPATS program.…
To be clear, those "roshei yeshiva" take their marching orders from Schachter.
Schachter wrote a harsh letter condemning Krauss's court that treated Krauss with disrespect. It was co-signed by Rabbi Gedaliah Dov Schwartz and three other top rabbis.
The Jewish Week reports that despite these strong arm tactics, Krauss' religious court has a surprising amount of rabbinic support. But most of those supporters are in the shadows, afraid of what might be done to them if they step forward. Instead, they wait for others to come forward first:
Many others have voiced support for Rabbi Krauss, but only off the record. One prominent New York rabbi who supports Rabbi Krauss but requested to remain anonymous described the situation as a social action problem. “It’s a game of numbers — everyone is waiting for the next guy to jump,” he said. “It’s a zero-sum game — everyone’s in, or nobody’s in.”
Meanwhile, as all but a small number of rabbis act with either extreme timidity or viciousness, a woman recently freed from an abusive mentally ill husband by Krauss's court, explains how Schachter's bullying has effected her:
Though Jacobs has slowly started to date again, she said she worries about her future status.
“I finally feel like I can breathe. After 15 years of being suffocated, I feel like myself. I feel like a person, not just a victim,” she said. Still, some men have stopped going out with her on learning that she was freed by the IBD.
“People have no problem breaking every other halacha, but when it comes to a get, they need the most stringent of stringencies,” she said. “It starts with the rabbis, this corrupt double-standard, and then everyone else just accepts blindly. In a minute, they can ruin everything I’ve worked towards over the past five years.”
Read it all here.