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
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