The OU’s own Executive Vice President, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, had a letter published in today’s Wall Street Journal. His letter was written in response to an article regarding an agunah and the efforts of the Orthodox community to help her resolve the situation. Additionally, Rabbi Weinreb points out that there have been genuine efforts made by the Orthodox community to stop these kinds of situations of spouses abusing these circumstances. The full text of Rabbi Weinreb’s letter can be found below.
Ties That Bind Orthodox Women to Despair
18 September 2007
Ms. Weiss accurately conveys both the despair each agunah (a woman chained to her marriage) feels, as well as the desire by most Orthodox rabbis to help end her awful predicament. However, it does not reflect that real efforts have been made, and strides taken, in ending such abuse by disreputable spouses. Husbands acting so shamefully abuse not only their partner but their religion, and show disdain for both man and God.
Rabbi Broyde’s Beth Din created an ironclad — in both American legal terms as well as the requisite Jewish religious requirements — prenuptial agreement that has done much to curtail husbands seeking revenge or leverage in the divorce proceedings. I never officiate at a wedding unless the couple has signed such an agreement. In addition, New York has a law, pushed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, that does much to ensure an American civil divorce is not granted unless a religious one is as well. In Maryland a similar law, backed by a coalition of Orthodox groups, rabbis, domestic violence victim advocates and the secular Jewish community failed to pass the Legislature this year by a slim margin.
There is much work to do, but within the sacred boundaries of Jewish law, many are working to alleviate this perverse distortion of faith.
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Ph.D. Executive Vice President Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America