Resolution on Agunot in Israel

Conservative Judaism has long been concerned with alleviating the plight of agunot. Through both its Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and its National Bet Din, it has instituted halakhic solutions to aid agunot such as the inclusion of the “Lieberman Clause” in ketubot; the utilization of hafka’at kiddushin by the National Bet Din; and the recommendation of pre-nuptial agreements stipulating the requirement of a get should the marriage be dissolved.

In Israel the plight of agunot has long been a subject of discussion and controversy. It is with this in mind that the Rabbinical Assembly proposes the following resolution:

WHEREAS  Jewish law upholds the sanctity of marriage, but recognizes that marriages sometimes fail;

WHEREAS  Jewish law provides for divorce if a couple cannot reconcile;

WHEREAS a husband must give a get (Jewish writ of divorce) of his own free will;

WHEREAS a recalcitrant husband who denies his wife a get can remarry and start a new family in Israel and in some Diaspora communities (although not permitted either by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and the Va’ad Halakhah) and his children will not be considered mamzerim;

WHEREAS a wife who does not receive a get becomes  an agunah and may never be able to remarry;

WHEREAS throughout Jewish history rabbinic authorities have ensured mechanisms for a woman to be released from an unwanted marriage; and

WHEREAS Conservative/Masorti Judaism has proposed and implemented various halakhic solutions to this problem.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon:

  • All rabbis to encourage the use of prenuptial agreements before performing weddings in order to prevent iggun;
  • Rabbinic Court Judges Appointment Committee to choose dayanim that are sensitive to the issue of the agunah;
  • Rabbinic Courts to apply halakhic methods to free agunot and mesuravot get;
  • The Knesset to enforce the obligation of marriage officials to inform couples about prenuptial agreements;
  • Masorti congregations in Israel to raise the profile of the plight of the agunah and assume leadership roles in ameliorating the situation to intensify awareness of the problem and activism that will contribute to its resolution; and
  • Members of the Rabbinical Assembly to support the groundbreaking work of The Center for Women in Jewish Law of the Schechter Institute and its actions on behalf of agunot.

Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, February, 2008