Published On: Thu, Feb 19th, 2015

NJ Rabbi Charged with Kidnapping-for-Gets Goes on Trial Thursday

In numerous cases, Orthodox Jewish husbands have taken advantage of the get law as a bargaining chip against their wives.

Rabbi Mendel Epstein

Orthodox Rabbi Mendel Epstein goes on trial Thursday, charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, AP reported.

Some co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to the charges.

Rabbi Epstein, a resident of Lakewood, NJ, was indicted last May, together with his son and three other Orthodox rabbis, for running an illicit operation that applied “brutal methods, ” including using torture instruments, to persuade Jewish husbands to grant their wives a get (Jewish divorce).

In 1989, Rabbi Epstein wrote a book titled, “A Woman’s Guide to the Get Process.”

A get must be given willingly, according to Jewish law, but several key scholars, including 12th Century Rabbi Moses Maimonides, have advocated using force, in order to help the husband get in touch with his better, inner self, which yearns to do the right thing and grant his wife the get.

In numerous cases, Orthodox Jewish husbands have taken advantage of the get law as a bargaining chip against their wives.

Rabbi Epstein’s kidnapping team was allegedly armed with surgical blades, rope, handcuffs and cattle prods.

The prosecution relies on an FBI sting operation, in which Rabbi Epstein told two undercover FBI agents who were posing as a brother and sister with a get problem: “If it can get a bull that weighs 5 tons to move, you put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute the guy will know.”

Epstein allegedly told the undercover agents he arranges such a kidnapping once year or so.

The Prosecution claims it has a recording of Epstein telling the agents the operation would cost at least $50, 000.

According to AP, defense attorney Robert Stahl called Epstein a “champion of women’s rights.”

“I think that a lot of information will come out about the supposed victims, and the evidence will not be there that he was involved in certain incidents, ” Stahl added. “Much more will come to light once the trial gets underway.”

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