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'Get' Refusal Bill Heads to Knesset for First Reading

A bill calling for sanctions against Jewish husbands who abandon their wives without giving a bill of divorce has been submitted to Knesset.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 5/22/2011, 4:40 PM / Last Update: 5/22/2011, 5:23 PM

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Lawmakers are set to consider a bill calling for sanctions against Jewish husbands who abandon their wives without granting a halachic bill of divorce, or Get.

The Get must be written in a particular, ancient format on parchment by a Torah scribe. It must be given voluntarily by the husband to the wife, in a ritual that is witnessed by a specific number of legally valid Jewish witnesses. 

The bill, proposed by MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) was endorsed Sunday by a ministerial committee on legislation.

Under the measure, once a Beit Din – a rabbinical court – orders a divorce, the husband must write and execute the Get within 45 days. If he does not, the rabbinical court will be required at that point to consider issuing restricting orders against the husband.

The goal of the bill is to apply pressure on the recalcitrant husband in order to free the wife. Such orders can included mandatory imprisonment.

The reason for such measures is that without a Jewish bill of divorce, a Jewish woman cannot remarry.

The proposed bill now goes to the Knesset plenum for a preliminary reading, and then returns to committee for revision. It then goes back to the Knesset for a second, and then third and final reading before it becomes law.

A 2007 Rabbinical Court study found that the number of men who are refused Gets is slightly greater than that of women. A woman who refuses to take the Get from her husband is eligible for alimony if she convinces the court that she is not employed.