Agunot and the Powers That Be
Publication Date: March 2005
Author(s): Sharon Shenhav
Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive
Keywords: Jewish Law (halacha); Orthodox Judaism; Feminism; Divorce
In this transcript from a discussion at the conference, "Choosing Limits, Limiting Choices: Women' s Status and Religious Life," panelists were asked to comment on the impact of the agunah (women denied a religious divorce) issue on Jewish women and on the Jewish community. Weiss presents results from a series of interviews with women pleaders in the Israeli rabbinical court and discusses their interpretive strategies for responding to the challenges that modern values pose to their religious world. Aranoff's topic is the moral quandary that the suffering of agunot creates for Orthodoxy's communities, leaders, and institutions. Joseph describes her decades of experience as an activist within the Orthodox community, and the challenges and precariousness of that position. The questions and answers section includes discussion on alternatives to kiddushin (traditional Jewish marriage), the use of rabbinically sanctioned violence to coerce a husband to give a divorce, and civil remedies.