Boston Agunah Taskforce | The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Boston Agunah Taskforce

The HBI launched the Boston Agunah Task Force, an exciting initiative made possible by the Boston Jewish Women’s Fund of Combined Jewish Philanthropies. It is a collaboration between the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law (GCRL), the Center for Modern Torah Leadership and Chabad of the North Shore.

The overall goal of the Task Force is to expand understanding of gender inequality under Jewish divorce law and identify ways of addressing it. To achieve this, the Task Force plans include:

  • Online education: support the website,, a tool containing information around education resources and advocacy about the get, how to get one, who needs one
  • Community education: educate young people to reject the notion of get refusal and to adopt the use of prenuptial contracts to avoid it
  • Legal education: provide resources for attorneys and social workers dealing with matrimonial law and assisting clients in avoiding get refusal
  • Original research: understand the role that get-based refusal extortion plays in the Jewish divorce process in the U.S.
  • One to one counseling: work with a get specialist who can help negotiate the world of Jewish divorce.

This work is made possible, in part, due to a $15,000 grant, renewable up to three years, from the Boston Jewish Women’s Fund. Stay tuned for fall programming from the Agunah Task Force.

About Us

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of Brandeis University. She writes on issues of gender, multiculturalism and colonialism in Jewish family law and African customary law. Her publications include Gender, Religion and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions (with Sylvia Neil, Brandeis University Press, 2012) and The Polygamy Question (with Janet Bennion, Forthcoming, University of Colorado Press, 2015) and Gender, Justice and Dialogue: Transforming Women’s Rights Under Jewish Law (forthcoming Brandeis University Press, 2015). She holds law degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School and Harvard Law School, and has been a visiting scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand and Harvard Law School. She was a lecturer in law at the Faculty of Laws, University College London and a member of the Pan Commonwealth Expert Group on Gender and Human Rights. She is co-editor of the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.

Rabbi Aryeh (Robert) Klapper

Rabbi Aryeh (Robert) Klapper is the founder and dean of the Center for Modern Torah Leadership, a member of the Boston Beit Din, experienced in areas of divorce and conversion.  He is an instructor of Rabbinic Literature and Bioethics, at Gann Academy.  He previously served as Orthodox Adviser and Associate Director for Education at Harvard Hillel and as Talmud Curriculum Chair at Maimonides High School. Rabbi Klapper has published in Tradition, Meorot, Dinei Yisrael, Beit Yitzchak and other journals and has presented at numerous academic and community conferences. He is a popular lecturer who is consulted internationally on issues of Jewish law and whose work is cited regularly by both academic and traditional scholars. Rabbi Klapper attended the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) Kollel L'Horaah and was ordained March 1994. He received a M.A. in Bible from Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and a B.A. in political science from Yeshiva College.

Layah Kranz Lipsker

Layah Kranz Lipsker is a Jewish educator and mother of six, interested in the ways in which religion impacts the lives of women. Lipsker is the co-founder of Chabad of the North Shore and an instructor for the Jewish Learning Institute on Boston’s North Shore. Her journey as a Hassidic feminist led her to her current position as a Research Associate for the Hadassah Brandeis Institute. was the brainchild of her father, Rabbi Yankel Kranz, of blessed memory, a physical and spiritual giant, who once spoke to her of his desire to educate women about the get process. Lipsker remembers that long before the Internet, her father said that he wanted to create a “Bumper sticker campaign that he would call "GetYourGet.”