Research Projects

These publications are a result of Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law (GCRL) research and are not included in the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.

Current Research Project

Religious Divorce in Boston

Jewish Law requires that a husband consent to divorce but has mechanisms to dispense with the consent of wives. Women who fail to receive a divorce suffer greater consequences, for any children they might have without having received a religious divorce from their first husband would have the status of mamzer under Jewish law and be unable to marry within the Jewish community. This inequality produces a power imbalance between spouses that can be exploited for financial advantage or to spitefully control the other spouse. While there has been important research on the impact of withholding or refusal to grant a religious divorce on post-divorce arrangements in Israel (Halperin-Kaddari, 2013, 2018) there is a paucity of information about its impact in the United States. Using the Boston area as a model for a diverse and mobile Jewish community, this study investigates why and how Jewish couples choose religious divorce and what role the threat of get refusal may play in secular divorce negotiations. A second phase will explore the relationship between religious and civil divorce in the Boston Muslim community. This study is supported by a grant from the Brandeis Provost’s Innovative Inquiry Fund.


Fareda Banda and Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, eds. (2016).

Janet Bennion and Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, eds. (2016).