How We Can Help
The Boston Agunah Taskforce began its work in July of 2014. The Taskforce is a collaboration between three Boston-area Jewish community organizations working to understand and alleviate the problem of abusive conduct enabled by the interaction between the secular and Jewish divorce processes.
The Taskforce takes a multipronged approach to addressing the need for education, support, and research on the impact of get refusal on women and children in the Boston area.
The work of the Boston Agunah Taskforce focuses on four tasks:
- On-line education and support to Jewish women seeking a get
We provide information, advice and support to women going through Jewish divorce and victims of get extortion through creation and maintenance of the website, getyourget.com. Rachel Levmore, an internationally respected expert in Jewish family law, answers questions from users. Ask Dr. Levmore a question.
- In-person education and support to Jewish women in Boston
We have arranged, for the first time, to have a supportive female presence in attendance at divorce hearings before the all-male panel of judges at the Boston Beit Din (rabbinical court). Taskforce member Layah Kranz Lipsker acts as a Tomechet Beit Din, (court support worker) and has helped facilitate 20 divorces. Layah helps women in the following ways:
- When a new case is opened, she is the first point of contact for the woman seeking divorce. Meeting by phone or in person, she is able to facilitate a more comfortable experience by explaining the get process, asking pertinent questions regarding the halachic information needed by the Beit Din, and getting a sense of the emotional wellbeing of both spouses involved.
- She is present at the Beit Din whenever a divorce case is in session. During the session, she remains with the woman during all proceedings and during tense waiting periods throughout the day.
The benefit of having female support and advice throughout the get process cannot be overstated. These are the words of one woman who appreciated the support she received from Layah:
“A few weeks ago, I happily received my get at the Beit Din in Boston. Although I was familiar with the process, the circumstances were less than optimal as my ex-husband had been unwilling to grant the get until recently. I was grateful that Layah was part of the process. She not only provided me/us with information about the proceedings, but was a great buffer in a very uncomfortable situation. Having her as part of the process took a great deal of anxiety off my shoulders.”
To reach out to Layah for support before the Boston Beit Din, email her or call the getyourget.com helpline at 781-913-7930.
- Public education about get-based abuse in the Boston Jewish community
Taskforce participants speak frequently to synagogue, university and community audiences about get-based extortion, get refusal and strategies for combating it. To arrange for a talk for your group, email the Taskforce.
- Education about Jewish family law for Massachusetts lawyers
Family law attorneys across the state require special training to understand the impact of Get Refusal. It is vital that they learn and develop effective strategies for ensuring that Jewish women who want a get receive one without undue delay and are able to negotiate financial and custody issues on an equal playing field with no implicit or explicit threats of get refusal. The Agunah Taskforce can provide information to lawyers and is working with a panel of local family lawyers and clients who have gone the Jewish divorce to devise the best legal strategies to address get-recalcitrance whenever it occurs in the divorce process. We are also launching a popular education initiative, GetReady, to encourage people considering divorce to ask their lawyers to ensure that the Jewish divorce process is resolved in the course of the civil divorce negotiations. If you are a Massachusetts lawyer who would like to learn more about the Jewish divorce process, email the Taskforce.