Monday, March 02, 2015

Chained wives hire rabbi for torture

NPR Radio complains about orthodox Jewish divorce law:
In Israel, religious law governs family matters.

For a Jewish divorce, an Orthodox rabbi oversees a ritual that begins with the husband placing a folded decree into the wife's cupped hands. But that paper can be hard to get, because the husband can refuse to grant the divorce.

A new Israeli film playing in the U.S. shows how patriarchal Jewish divorce laws can trap even secular women for years. ...

These rabbinical judges almost never watch movies. They study Jewish religious and legal texts — all day, most days. The texts guide their lives and their court decisions.
They would probably like these feminist rabbis:
The trial of Mendel Epstein, a New Jersey Rabbi and alleged ringleader of a kidnapping scheme designed to force husbands into granting their wives religious divorces, entered its second day in court in Trenton today.

Epstein, 69, was arrested in October 2013 for allegedly charging undercover FBI agents $60,000 to kidnap a man and coerce him into granting his wife a Judaic divorce decree.

Rabbis Arrested in Cases of Alleged Torture

Epstein and his son David, along with two other rabbis named in the federal complaint as Jay Goldstein and Binyamin Stimler, face federal charges of conspiracy to kidnap and kidnapping. If found guilty, the men face a maximum penalty of 20 years to life in prison.

During Wednesday’s opening statement, prosecutors played a video of allegedly Epstein discussing a staged kidnapping with two undercover FBI agents, wherein he can be heard openly discussing the use of stun guns on men's genitalia.

"If it can get a bull that weighs five tons to move," the man on the video identified by the FBI as Epstein is heard telling the undercover agents, "you put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute the guy will know."

"Mendel Epstein talked about forcing compliance through the use of 'tough guys' who utilize electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and place plastic bags on the heads of husbands," said FBI Special Agent Bruce Kamerman shortly after Epstein's arrest.

Epstein's defense claims he was a "champion of women's rights" and employed "torture as term of art" in order to get a husband's "evil" recalcitrance to "leave his body." According to the strictest interpretation of ancient Jewish law, a religious divorce, referred to as a "get", can only be granted by a husband regardless of the circumstances that may have caused a marriage to break up. Without a "get", a religious Jewish woman cannot remarry or get on with her life and she becomes an ostracized member of the community called an “agunah” or a chained person. Convincing reluctant husbands to grant their wives divorces is a specialty among ultra-Orthodox rabbis.
The women can get civil divorces and remarriages, and only need the "get" for the approval of the Orthodox Jewish authorities.

A comment says this is not the whole story:

Many inaccuracies here. He was a thug for hire and made 100k a pop. of the 100+ men he tortured only 2 were actually refusing to divorce their wives. The rest were still going through custody disputes and he tortured the men to sign off everything to the wives. In fact he caused many problems (the Orthodox Jewish media has been on this for over a year). Also the article misrepresents Jewish Law on divorce, I know because I am in a Rabbinical College right now and have studied such laws. This guy was a thug for hire, not some champion of women's rights
Buried in some of these stories of "chained wives" is a crucial detail -- the wife ran off with the kids and she wants the husband to concede custody and child support rights. Here is the latest:
Rivky Stein, 25, testified at King's County Supreme Court in Brooklyn, New York, in a civil case against her estranged husband Yoel Weiss, 32. ...

'Whenever I refused anything from Yoel, he raped me, physically hurt me, verbally abused me and threatened me,' Ms Stein said. ...

The civil case, which began last month, will determine the custody of the couple's five-year-old son and daughter, four; child support payments; and alimony for Ms Stein.

Ms. Stein said that she wants the court to award her full custody of the children with supervised visitation with their father 'in a healthy way'. ...

In a separate matter, Ms Stein, who is an Orthodox Jew, continues to seek her get - a religious divorce which can only be granted with her husband's approval.

Ms Stein therefore lives as an 'agunah', a chained wife, unable to marry again in an Orthodox synagogue.

She told Daily Mail Online on Wednesday: 'He has continuously refused to give me a get. I don't know what I can do any more I have tried everything: Jewish court, Beis din rabbis and mediators but he refuses.

'He said he will never give me a Get, and that I will die old and alone.'

Brendan Lyle, CEO of divorce finance company BBL Churchill, is an expert in divorce cases and has met with Ms Stein and her rabbi.

He told Daily Mail Online: 'While the court can not force Mr Weiss to grant the Get, they do have several tools at their disposal to make him think twice if he doesn't provide Rivky with the get that she deserves.' ...

In court on Wednesday, she described the 'escape' from her marriage with her two children on July 2, 2012. ...

She testified that she had approached rabbis about the physical abuse by her husband, adding: 'I would ask them what I should do and if I had permission to call the police. They told me that I can’t. They wouldn’t give me permission to.'
So she kidnapped the kids and wants to be rewarded with child custody, support, and alimony, and with the judge to somehow pressure her husband for a religious blessing that she cannot get in Jewish court.

She has some outlandish allegations against him, but I have no way of assessing them.

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