Jewish man has spent 10 years in prison denying his wife a divorce

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10-year sentence is stretched to ‘indefinite’

By JEREMY SHARON 02/06/2012 04:11

In groundbreaking ruling, rabbinical courts decides Meir Gorodetzki will not leave prison until he grants wife a "get."

The supreme rabbinical court of appeals upheld a life sentence handed down to a man who has refused for ten years to give his wife a bill of divorce.

Meir Gorodetzki was imprisoned by the Jerusalem rabbinical court in 2001 for refusing to allow his wife to divorce him and has spent the last ten years in jail for his ongoing refusal to give his wife a bill of divorce, or get.

Rabbinical courts have sole jurisdiction in matters pertaining to marriage and divorce, and have the ability to mete out punitive measures to convince a husband to give a wife a bill of divorce.

According to Jewish law, a man must grant his wife a get of his own volition before they can be divorced. A woman cannot remarry unless she receives a bill of divorce.

The maximum sentence that the rabbinical courts (beit din) can give for such an offense is ten years of imprisonment.

Gorodetzki’s sentence was coming to an end but his wife requested that he not be released, fearing that he would flee the country and she would never be able to remarry.

The Jerusalem rabbinical court ruled in May 2011 that Gorodetzki would remain in prison for as long as he continues to deny his wife a bill of divorce.

Gorodetzki appealed the case to the rabbinical court of appeals, the Great Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem, claiming that the sentence infringed the country’s Basic Law of human dignity and freedom.

In the hearing in November, details of which have only now been released, the panel of rabbinical judges – headed by rabbinical supreme court president Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger – ruled against Gorodetzki. In a creative interpretation of the law, the judges ruled that it is Gorodetzki himself who is restricting his own freedom, as well as that of his wife, and that he holds the keys to his personal liberty.

“If the appellant is released from prison before he has divorced his wife, she will remain an agunah (a woman bound to her husband) for ever… Anyone who allows this would be considered as if they had shed her blood,” Metzger said during the hearing.

“The keys to your release are in your own hands… through the fulfillment of your obligations as a Jew. Release your wife and then you will receive your freedom,” Metzger told him.

Gorodetzki and his wife Tzviya Esther first married in 1983 in a civil marriage in the US but divorced in 1987. Gorodetzki emigrated to Israel in 1989, became Orthodox and joined the Chabad hassidic group. The couple then remarried in 1991.

Gorodetzki’s wife subsequently accused him of physical violence and verbal abuse, and the Jerusalem rabbinical court ordered him to give his wife a get in December 1999.

He refused to grant his wife the get and was imprisoned by the Jerusalem court in October 2001. Despite his incarceration, Gorodetzki continued to deny his wife a get and the court ordered additional measures be taken against him, including barring him from receiving visitors, letters or telephone calls (apart from with his lawyer); preventing him from receiving mehadrin (stringently kosher) food; two 90-day periods of solitary confinement; and barring him from buying food in the prison canteen. The court also instructed the prison to provide psychiatric treatment and denied a request by Gorodetzki for his children to be allowed to visit him.

“We are very happy with this ruling and it sends a very strong message,” said Batya Kehana.

However, it is a shame that these kinds of sanctions get used in so few cases. Instead, it needs to become the norm. In the majority of cases where husbands are sent to prison, they quickly give a get.

She added that for cases with men that exhibit psychological pathologies who are prepared to sit in jail for extremely long periods rather than divorce their wives, the rabbinical courts should annul the marriage retroactively, based on the principle in Jewish law of “mistaken acquisition.” “If a man denies a woman her freedom, then he should have his own freedom denied,” she added.

According to a recent study conducted by the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University, punitive sanctions are imposed by rabbinical courts in only 1.5% of the cases in which they are applicable.

Such measures include preventing a recalcitrant husband from traveling abroad, confiscating his driver’s license, being struck off from professional associations and imprisonment.

http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=256634
How much do you have to hate your wife to be willing to spend 10 years in prison over it?
 

Neon

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How much do you have to hate your wife to be willing to spend 10 years in prison over it?
This is a really fucked up aspect of Jewish marriage, and the whole marriage court process in Israel. My dad's girlfriend works for an advocacy organization of women who are denied a divorce (called "Agunot" or "shackled women"). It comes down to - you can't do it without the guy's consent. This guy must be truly fucked up in the head to be willing to sit in prison like that. Literally all he has to do is sign a piece of paper and he's out. Can you imagine the kind of willpower that takes?

By the way, this is probably not really a legal issue for the woman. She probably wants to remarry in proper Jewish fashion. A secular person could just get a civil marriage, although you can't do that in Israel yet. Gotta go somewhere like Cyprus, but it is then recognized as an official marriage in Israel.
 

Ballbuster1

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Neon

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Psychopath

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Someone should do what don Corleone did. Either his signature is on the paper or his brains.
 

THE FEZ MAN

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Lord Zero

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According to Jewish law, a man must grant his wife a get of his own volition before they can be divorced. A woman cannot remarry unless she receives a bill of divorce.
A choice isn't made of one's own volition if one is bullied into making a particular choice by another. That's coercion.
 

Party Rooster

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I'll do ya 1 better. A guy in our county was held in jail for 14
years on a contempt charge for refusing to reveal what happened
to over 2 mil he had and his wife wanted in a divorce.
14 fucking years and never charged with a crime.

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2009/07/10/news/doc4a5786de2fb80615316175.txt
Wow. Wonder if he "invested" it in something criminal like drugs or something and was afraid of divulging the information because of that? Still, a huge fuck you to the ex-wife.
 

Neon

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A choice isn't not made on one's own volition if one was bullied into making a particular choice by another. That's coercion.
Yeah, but I believe he has to have a reason to not give one or the rabbinical court can compel him somehow. It's complicated (of course. It's religion and law mixed together. How COULD it be simple???)
 

THE FEZ MAN

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Wow. Wonder if he "invested" it in something criminal like drugs or something and was afraid of divulging the information because of that? Still, a huge fuck you to the ex-wife.
i have been following this guys trial for a while, apparently he flat out said fuck you cunt you get nothing, he was in jail longer than they were married. he has that money in off shore accounts, and good for him, fuck that cunt