Set Orthodox women free

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New Jersey resident Gitel Dodelson is a 25-year old Orthodox Jewish woman and new mother. Recently separated from her husband of 10 months, she wrote candidly about her marriage breakdown in the New York Post. In Gitel’s tightly knit community, exposing such “dirty laundry” is almost unheard of. But her decision to go public was an act of desperation.

Jewishly, a divorce is only complete halachically (halacha is Talmud-based jurisprudence) when the husband issues his wife a “get,” the document officially releasing her from the marriage. A husband cannot be compelled to issue it; and that is Gitel’s ill-starred situation.

If her husband chooses to withhold the get indefinitely, as other vengeful Jewish men have — and from Gitel’s portrayal of her husband as a near-sadistically controlling man, he well might — Gitel will have two options. Hoping he’ll relent, she can wait it out as a pious, but socially anomalous “agunah” (the halachic term for a woman who is “anchored” or “chained” to her marriage); or she can leave her community and begin life anew in self-imposed exile to an alien social and cultural planet.

Written By: Barbara Kay
continue to source article at fullcomment.nationalpost.com

15 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      A religion is a package. If you don’t like the nutty rules, drop the religion.

      This is like becoming a Muslim then complaining you have to pray five times a day.

      I’m excited to say I’ve found a loop-hole in your argument! You can start your own version of the same religion and say that it is a purer version of the original! Thus not only have you stayed in your religion but are better than the people that are still in the same old religion. It’s like having your shit sandwich but leaving the crust.

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      A religion is a package. If you don’t like the nutty rules, drop the religion.

      Eh, easier said than done sometimes. Most orthodox jewish women didn’t buy the package; they were born into it. Born into a box, in a way, and how many never learned the life skills to get out of it without a huge leap of fear into the unknown?

      • Your point reminds me of some of my students. The school where I work is in a very blue collar neighborhood. Most of the kids will not get out of the town when they “grow up”.

        When we chat about things like good restaurants, they gush about Applebees and Ruby Tuesdays and Olive Garden (they have the BEST bread)…. Anyway, my family and I are “foodies” and will save for a couple months and hit a crazy 5 star restaurant. I live 10 minutes from Center City Philly and the dining spots downtown are unreal.

        Anyway, I can’t tell the kids about a meal at a Stephen Starr restaurant because they have zero frame of reference to even understand the experience. Same with the people born into a religion (of course theirs is the BEST — it is the only one they know)… No frame of reference OUTSIDE their small “sandbox”. Makes me sad for them.

        In reply to #3 by dandelionfluff:

        In reply to #1 by Roedy:

        A religion is a package. If you don’t like the nutty rules, drop the religion.

        Eh, easier said than done sometimes. Most orthodox jewish women didn’t buy the package; they were born into it. Born into a box, in a way, and how many never learned the life skills to get out…

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      A religion is a package. If you don’t like the nutty rules, drop the religion.

      Leaving is very difficult. Even in the US, there are isolated Orthodox Jewish groups where children are raised without a complete education and may not even be able to speak English. It is very very difficult to make it in the outside world under those circumstances and often takes a lot of outside help. It’s a bit easier if one family member has already escaped, but I don’t see how it would be possible without outside support.

    • In reply to The Article:

      Gitel will have two options. Hoping he’ll relent, she can wait it out as a pious, but socially anomalous “agunah” (the halachic term for a woman who is “anchored” or “chained” to her marriage); or she can leave her community and begin life anew in self-imposed exile to an alien social and cultural planet.

      I’ll just make it plain and simple. The second option is definitely the better of the two. I’ve always had a theory that if there were a Chasidic equivalent of “Rumspringa,” within a generation or two, there would be no more Chasidim…which would certainly be a good thing.

  1. The author of the story is an “outsider” who is expressing thoughts that are foreign to the subject, and parts of it she doesn’t understand. To say that there is no longer slavery, animal sacrifices, and polygamy because we changed the laws displays her lack of understanding. Animal sacrifices are only done in the Temple, and since there is no Temple, THAT is the reason that they stopped, and religious Jews pray 3 times a day that the Temple should be erected in their lifetime. Slavery cannot be done without a Sanhedrin (a special religious high court), which needs to reside in the Temple, since neither exists, there is no slavery. And religious Jews pray 3 times a day for the return of a Sanhedrin. And the suspension of polygamy was not permanent, it was to protect Jews from execution in European countries, and the decree ended more than a decade ago, so in Israel, where polygamy is legal, a man can take another wife, but it’s a lot of work and, frankly, not a sane choice! (For example, if your wife takes off so you cannot divorce her, you can take another wife without needing a divorce.)

    While most people, like Sam Harris, consider Judaism to be a benign religion, that is only due to a lack of a Temple, and a Sanhedrin, which the Orthodox pray 3 times a day for it’s return. If these ever do get re-established, then you will have the Saudis look at Israel and go “Whoa. Take it down a notch guys! Talk about extreme!”

    Honor killings, torture, beatings, amputation of hands, death through pouring molten metal down the throat, through stoning, through slow strangulation, the burning down of churches and mosques, you will have it all and so much more (“So act now and you will also get misogyny and slavery for free!”)

    I live in Israel, in an Orthodox community, and when someone says “May the Temple be built in our lifetime” I usually respond with “chas v’shalom” (sort of a “God forbid!”) heh! And then the fun discussion begins!

  2. This is a very insular community which as it grows larger will struggle to sustain itself.As a boy I lived near the largest Britain’s largest orthodox community in Stamford Hill in London.Some of my friends were local secular jewish lads who hated these people and called them parasites.Personally I just fought them odd but basically harmless.However I was told that they finish their general education at 14 and then the men go to Yeshiva to read the ancient scriptures.This means there are no ‘experts’ in their community such as doctors,engineers,scientists etc.Consequently it is very difficult for them to earn a reasonable living.Near where I lived were a few shops: a bakers ,kosher grocery store,a tailor and a jeweller/pawnbroker.That was about it.I read that in Israel the government is trying to force them to work or join the armed forces,but so far without much success.Progress,such as this woman’s case demands,will only come from within.I do not envy her the task.

  3. There’s a piece in the Huffington Post today by Rabbi Jonathan Romain – one of the good guys, I believe – explaining how simply by virtue of a seemingly unrestrained birthrate Orthodox Charedi Jews will soon account for most Jewish marriages in the UK.

    These people are pretty right wing, fundamentalist types. As if the world did not have enough right wing fundamentalists already. This is not going to do a lot of good for the liberal/reform Jews in Britain.

  4. I guess it boils down to a personal choice …choose the past – safe and well known with all its archaic religious traditions and servitude OR choose the future with freedom to assimilate, free think and decide who you give your time and energy to…..There is a choice….

  5. From the article:

    [...] there is a moral chasm between the benign assignation of distinct social roles to men and women as opposed to the harmful assignation of distinct human worth to men and women.

    Male-run synagogue services, female-run kitchens and nurseries and social separation of the sexes are not inherently unethical.[...]

    Bullshit. I appreciate the author’s empathy and call for reform, but “separate but equal” will never be a valid way to achieve real social justice.

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