Petitions Supreme Court to Compel Husband to Grant Religious Divorce
Menu JTA Search

Petitions Supreme Court to Compel Husband to Grant Religious Divorce

Download PDF for this date

A mandatory injunction to compel an individual of the Jewish faith to appear before an Orthodox Rabbi for the purpose of giving the Rabbi ecclesiastical jurisdiction to ascertain whether his wife, whose marriage to him was annuled in the state court, is also entitled to receive a Jewish religious divorce, was asked by Jonah J, Goldstein. New York. attorney in a petition filed in the Supreme Court of King’s County.

The mandatory injunction, if granted, would be the first case in the history of New York State, it is said, of the civil court compelling a defendant to appear before a rabbi.

The case has several interesting aspects. Kate Joseph who was married to Jacob Joseph on May 29, 1922, by an Orthodox Rabbi in the borough of Brooklyn, instituted an action on July 21, 1923, in the Supreme Court of King’s County seeking annulment of their marriage on the ground of the husband’s physical incapacity. The annulment was granted by Judge Lewis and was confirmed by a decision of the Appellate Division.

Kate Joseph, being a strict observant Orthodox Jewess. found it contrary to her conscience to marry another man without obtaining a Jewish religious divorce commonly known as a “Gett.” According to Jewish religious law, no divorce can be granted unless the husband appears before a rabbi and consents to this action.

Mr. Joseph refused to grant the religious divorce. In the appeal to the Supreme Court, the attorney contends that if the courts were willing to restore her property rights to Mrs. Joseph because of the annulment of her marriage, the court should help in restoring her personal rights by ordering her husband to free her from the bonds of the marriage. The action of her former husband in refusing to appear before the rabbi renders void the decree of the Supreme Court, because without the religious decree Mrs. Joseph. as an Orthodox Jewess is unable to remarry.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund