In a rare legal development, a court in Western Europe fined a man that the Israeli Rabbinical Courts had identified as unlawfully refusing to grant his wife a get. The court had issued a fine of 500 euros for every day the man refused to issue the document. Two days later, he agreed and his wife received her divorce earlier this week.

The developments came following the intervention of the Yad La’Isha Legal Aid Center of Ohr Torah Stone who had referred the case to the court in the Western European city. Yad La’Isha’s lawyers presented a detailed brief explaining the phenomenon of “get refusal” in Jewish law, demanding that the man, a citizen and legal resident of the European country, be held legally accountable for the refusal. The Court agreed with Yad La’Isha’s arguments and imposed a fine of 500 euros per day of continued refusal, up to an amount of 50,000 euro.

The Israeli Rabbinical Court issued an initial ruling to force the man to issue the get. That decision was then presented to the local European court as evidence of the damage that the man was imposing on G. The court accepted that argument, presented by Adv. Tamar Oderberg of Yad La’Isha, recognizing how the man’s actions were preventing his wife from pursuing new relationships.

The couple had been married for 20 years, with three children together. Three years ago, the wife, G., requested a divorce from A. but he refused to accept. Living at the time in Europe, after the breakup of the marriage, the wife moved to Israel while the husband remained behind. Despite repeated efforts to moderate a settlement, the husband continued to refuse, leading G. to seek out the support of Yad La’Isha.

Adv. Oderberg said, “The fact that a civil court outside of Israel is recognizing the injustice represented by this phenomenon of get refusal is nothing less than extraordinary. It is critical that women recognize the legal tools at their disposal to counter this trend and embrace them however possible to gain their personal freedom.”

Pnina Omer, director of Yad L’Isha, said, “I am deeply proud of the professionalism and dedication exhibited by our team. Until the Jewish world succeeds in finding the necessary halachic solution to this challenge, it is our sincere commitment to stand at the forefront in helping these women gain the freedom and new lives they so deserve.”

Upon receipt of the get, G. said, “I thank G-d for my personal Chanukah miracle and also want to thank Yad La’Isha who helped me in this process and without whom I don’t know how or when I would have reached this point. The legal matters were handled professionally and with close coordination between the relevant players here in Israel and abroad. Their staff gave me the strength to continue my daily routine while addressing this challenge of get refusal and living as an agunah which, sadly, does not get the recognition it needs in our society today.”


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