Divorce (illustration)
Divorce (illustration) Thinkstock

Yechiel Friedman has refused to give his wife a get (Jewish divorce) for nearly 18 years, says the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), which helps women trapped in the Jewish legal status of marriage even when the relationship has ended.

As a result, a member of ORA forced Friedman out of a minyan (prayer quorum) at Yeshiva University on Tuesday, following the ruling of the Beth Din of America (Jewish legal court) calling to ostracize Friedman until he relents and clarifies his wife's status, letting her move on.

The Beth Din of America ruling, issued last October, states that Friedman must give his wife Lea a get immediately, and imposes communal sanctions on him until he does so.

Those sanctions call on the Jewish community to limit conversation with him, refuse to do business with him, to not include him in a minyan as acted upon this Tuesday and captured in the video above, and even to refuse burying him in a Jewish cemetery until he relents.

ORA describes Friedman's refusal to issue a Jewish divorce as "abusive," noting that while he separated from Lea in April 1997 and the two have been civilly divorced for 14 years, he continues to refuse to give her a get, leaving Lea in the limbo of legal wedlock according to Jewish law.

It should be noted that the issue of get refusal is not a one-way street; a study of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in 2007 found that in the prior two years 180 women were refused Jewish divorces by their husbands, but a full 185 men were refused a get from their wives.