Hundreds gathered to show support for ORA, the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, which held a barbecue fundraiser on Sunday, May 22 at the home of Ari and Chanie Hirt in Lawrence. Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of ORA, was present. Rabbi Stern’s passion and enthusiasm were easily apparent and it was clear to all who were present that the work that ORA does is indispensable. The event featured an afternoon of fun for the whole family with a moon-bounce, petting zoo, pony rides, balloon sculptor, and a Chinese auction for the children which included fun sports memorabilia. The delicious barbecue, which was sponsored by Gourmet Glatt, was a big hit. The event was free of charge. Many rabbis, dignitaries, and community members came out in support of the cause.
Jewish law requires that a husband grant his wife a get of his own free will and accord and that she willingly receive it. Absent her husband’s willingness to give her a get, the wife remains an agunah, a chained woman. Sadly, the agunah crisis continues to grow. Therefore, it is important to recognize the tireless efforts of organizations that are dedicated to alleviating this problem. ORA is one such nonprofit organization which seeks to eliminate abuse from the Jewish divorce process relating to get refusal. ORA has dedicated caseworkers who work tirelessly to formulate and spearhead individualized action plans for each agunah. This includes, among other things, facilitating communication between all parties, navigating Jewish and civil-court systems, social-media campaigns, and trailblazing new approaches to case resolution. ORA is proud of its signature educational initiative, the Agunah Prevention Initiative, which raises awareness in Jewish communities and schools about the plight of agunot and the preventative solution of the halachic prenuptial agreement.
Esther Schonfeld, Esq., a preeminent matrimonial attorney, who deals regularly with issues surrounding Jewish divorces including get and beit din matters, co-chaired the event together with her husband, Benjamin Farkas, Ari and Chanie Hirt, and Shimmie and Chani Klein. Ms. Schonfeld, together with the other attorneys in her firm, Schonfeld & Goldring, LLP, resolves difficult cases of get-refusal. Esther Schonfeld is in close daily contact with other attorneys, rabbis, rabbinical courts, and community rabbis the world over who seek her advice and with whom she works to find a resolution to this problem. “On a busy Sunday with many worthy events taking place, it was very rewarding to see that hundreds of people and many community leaders and rabbis came out to show support for such a worthy cause.” says Esther Schonfeld.
“ORA resolves many cases of get-refusal and they further work tirelessly on the prevention of future cases by promoting the universal adoption of halachic prenuptial agreements,” says Esther Schonfeld.
Many people at the barbecue expressed their outrage at the possibility of such instances of get refusal occurring and about the untold suffering of the agunah. According to attorney Schonfeld, “Sadly, I have seen firsthand the trauma that get refusal has on women and children and how ORA has been able to obtain gets for so many women. People need to realize that it can happen to anyone, and that is why ORA needs our support.”