An orthodox Jewish woman named Rivky Stein is fighting for a divorce in a Brooklyn courtroom. The 25 year old mother says that her husband is denying her a Jewish religious divorce called a “get.”
The problem of Jewish women not being granted religious divorces by their husbands is a serious one. While able to obtain civil divorces around the world, without a get they cannot get remarried in an orthodox Jewish wedding.
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In Israel the problem is compounded because there is no secular divorce or marriage. In America, separation of church and state means that the government cannot interceded in any way. But at least women there can go to court to sue for monetary compensation of some sort if they are denied a get.
Seven years ago she married 33 year old Yoel Weiss when she was only 18 years old. In court Stein has accused him of raping her saying, “The night of the wedding, he made it clear that he owned me and that night he forced himself on me. I didn’t even know what happened. I felt stuck. I had nowhere to go back to.”
Michael Stutman, of the firm Mishcon de Reya, is representing Stein. He said that Weiss should have to support Stein as long as he refuses to grant her a Jewish divorce since this prevents her from remarrying. In his opening statements Stutman said, “The oppression of women by perverting religious principles is a story that is as old as time.”
According to a report in the New York Post, Weiss laughed in court when his estranged wife testified as to the abuse which she suffered at his hands. For this the judge, Esther Morgenstern. Admonished him saying, “There’s nothing funny here. I don’t see any humor.” And Stein told the post, “To see him laugh it off, it was very painful. He still continues to abuse me by not giving me my get.”
Rivky Stein has her own website, RedeemRicky.com. On it she states, “After a while, the abuse became a cycle and I knew my role. He would beat me or rape me or punish me. I played my part. I had to tell Yoily I would be more respectful. Then he would stop. Until the next time.”