JERUSALEM (JTA) — The man whose mother’s burial was delayed in Israel over his alleged refusal to give his wife a religious divorce said reports that he had changed his mind are “fake news.”
He identified himself as Yisrael Meir Kin in an English-language video released to the religious news website Arutz Sheva. He appears in the video with a tear in his shirt, as is traditionally worn during the week of shiva after a close relative dies. He released a similar video in Hebrew to Israel’s Channel 13.
His mother’s body arrived in Israel on Monday night. A Tuesday morning burial was scheduled, but did not take place until hours later, reportedly until he agreed to give the religious divorce, or get. Kin did not travel to Israel for the burial, reportedly because he could have been arrested for get refusal.
The rabbinical court of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada reportedly had asked Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau to withhold the burial until Kin agreed to the get and noted in a letter to the Chief Rabbinate that the man’s mother supported him in his decision to keep his wife an agunah, or chained woman. Lau in a statement Tuesday announced that he would comply with the request.
Lau later said that Kin’s family had placed a $20,000 bond to ensure that he would produce the get for his wife in front of a rabbinical court when one was arranged.
But Kin says in the video that neither Lau nor anyone from the chief rabbinate contacted him nor did he or his family place a deposit to insure the get. He also pointed out that he is related to Lau by marriage through his wife.
Lau had an “interest in doing this heinous crime against my mother,” Kin charged.
He also said that he provided a get for his wife at the Beit Din of Shaarey Mishpat, which is headed by Rabbi Tzvi Dov Abraham of Monsey, and which is not recognized by any rabbinical organization in North America nor by the chief rabbinate in Israel. The same Beit Din gave him a heter me’a rabbanim to marry his current wife. The court is “universally reviled as extortionist,” the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles reported in 2009.
The New York Times in 2014 reported that Kim was demanding $500,000 and full custody of their then-12-year-old son in exchange for the divorce.
The chief rabbinate denied Kin’s claims. “We regret that the refuser continues his crooked conduct and is now attacking the Beit Din (rabbinical court),” the Chief Rabbi’s office told Arutz 7.