Court annuls get-refuser's marriage

Court rules woman's status like that of never-married single woman. Leading rabbis in field approve verdict.

Mordechai Sones,

Oded Gez
Oded Gez
צילום: ללא

The Haifa Rabbinical Court today resolved the toughest divorce case the rabbinic court system has dealt with in recent years.

G., wife of divorce-refuser Oded Gez, was released from her limbo agunah status in a ruling that declared the couple's marriage null and void, issued by the Haifa court headed by Rabbi Avraham Meir Shalush.

The difficult case was handled by the Rabbinical Court in Petach Tikvah and later by the Supreme Rabbinical Court and the Haifa Rabbinical Court. When the Haifa court decided to obligate the husband, Dr. Oded Gez, to give his wife a get divorce writ, severe penalties were leveled against him. He was fired from his work at Bar-Ilan University and Rabbenu Tam's Sanctions were applied to him whereby people were not allowed to talk to him, employ him, or display towards him respect.

The Court additionally allowed publication of his name and image. The shaming spread to the social networks where it accumulated tens of thousands of shares and wide exposure, and sparked unprecedented public debate raising awareness about the divorce refusal problem.

Once sanctions were imposed he fled the country with a forged passport. At this stage, the Agunot Department of the Rabbinical Courts managed to obtain the necessary legal documents to prove the criminal offense committed by Gez and as a result, the Justice Ministry International Department decided to initiate Gez's extradition to Israel.

Writing get
Mordechai Sones

Concurrently, the Rabbinical Courts Agunot Department opened cross-border pursuit of Gez through private investigators and intelligence sources. The chase began in Cyprus, from where Gez escaped to Uman in the Ukraine, but from there he fled to London and then to Belgium - all the while with Agunot Department agents trailing him.

In joint activity by the Agunot Department, Interpol, the Israel Police, and the Justice Ministry International Department, Gez was arrested in Belgium and is in the process of being extradited to Israel. At the same time, in order to provide a safety net for the woman's freedom, the Rabbinical Court in Haifa headed by Rabbi Avraham Meir Shalush, Rabbi Daniel Edri, and Rabbi Shmuel Avraham Hazan, opened discussions regarding the marriage's fundamental validity.

After intensive discussions in which testimonies were heard and professional opinions and reviews were received, and with considerable investment of time and effort by the Court, it was decided today to annul the couple's marriage and allow Mrs. Gez to emerge from her agunah status, now like that of a single woman who never married. Leading rabbis in the field approved of the verdict, but according to the court's ruling the verdict remains confidential.

Rabbinical Courts head Rabbi David Malka said, "I'm pleased that one of the most difficult agunah cases the Rabbinical Court has dealt with has now come to an end, proving once again that the Court is taking all measures at its disposal - both operational and halakhic - and has made tremendous efforts to bring relief to all agunahs in the State of Israel."