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Without it, she is deemed an , a “chained wife” — she cannot date or remarry within the religious community in which she was raised, and any children she has with a new husband are deemed illegitimate.While a wife can sue for divorce in a , the situation can become so dire that they turn to violence.“One of my sisters told me that my [parents, two other sisters and two brothers] were discussing whether to sit shiva for me,” she says.“And I was valedictorian.”Reiss made the rare decision to not only file for divorce in civil court, rather than religious court, but she also refused to accept a get from her husband.“You remain trapped as a single person in a community where there is nothing more shameful than being single.”While there are plenty of cases in which Orthodox Jewish couples divorce without incident, for some husbands, refusing to offer a get is a way to control their wives — to extort money, to blackmail them for custody over children or, more simply, to punish them for wanting to end the marriage.“I consider this to be the most pressing issue facing the Orthodox community in America,” says Rabbi Avi Weiss, the longtime leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York. If there is someone who is recalcitrant, they are not welcome — I have actually escorted such people out of my synagogue, which is so contrary to my work.”“Get refusal is a form of domestic abuse, and domestic abuse is never justified,” says Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), a nonprofit in New York that helps husbands and wives secure gets amicably.Each year, ORA receives roughly 150 queries from women seeking guidance and assistance in divorcing their husbands.
When she stopped wearing a head covering during her senior year, she says her family declared her dead.
A Facebook page, Free Gital: Tell Avrohom Meir Weiss to Give His Wife a "Get," has over 13,000 likes.
Weiss’ side of the story, however, remains largely absent from media reports.
When she was 19 years old, her parents arranged for her to marry a man she’d never met.
By 27, she was unhappy and wanted out — not just of the marriage, but of the entire Orthodox Jewish world.
They didn’t know what to do with me.” Reiss, who now lives in in a non-Jewish suburb of New Jersey and sends her children to public school, chose to leave the Orthodox community, making it easier for her to move on with her life without a get.