The change in the divorce law adopted by the Rabbinical Assembly of America deserves nothing but praise. It is sure to be followed in Poland where there are thousands of deserted Jewish women, as well as in other parts of Europe.
This change, which makes it possible for a woman who has been deserted for a period of three years or who has not been supported by her husband for that period, to obtain a divorce without any further difficulties, will be studied, we are certain, by American social workers and in American courts as one means of solving divorce complications.
DIVORCE UNDER CONTRACT
According to the decision of the Rabbinical Assembly, Jewish young men in America, when they marry, must sign a contract giving the wife the right to obtain a divorce should the husband absent himself for three years or fail to support his family for at least that period.
Such an innovation in the traditional procedure of Jewish religious divorces will be welcomed by the most orthodox Jewish leaders all over the world. The problem of the deserted wife who has not heard from her husband for years and is thus prevented from divorcing him, has been a source of concern to rabbis and spiritual leaders for many years. There are today thousands of Jewish women in Poland, in Rumania and in other countries of Europe who have not heard from their husbands since the war.
RESTORING LIFE TO MANY
Unaware of the fate of their husbands, these unfortunate women, called Agunoth, were destined, under the traditional Jewish laws of marriage and divorce, to spend their entire lives alone. They could never remarry as long as it had not been established that their husbands were dead. Furthermore, even if their husbands were alive they could not obtain a divorce without the husband’s consent, no matter how many years he had been away from home.
A BLESSING TO WOMEN
This cruel procedure which made the wife dependent on the good will of the husband who had deserted her, has for years been a matter of international correspondence between rabbis of different countries. Every rabbi in the world felt that something should be done to modify the law since the welfare of thousands of Jewish women was involved.
The Rabbinical Assembly deserves credit for being the first to take a practical step in this direction. The modification now introduced into the Jewish religious divorce law by the Rabbinical Assembly will be a blessing to many Jewish women. It will restore life in many Jewish homes by enabling deserted women to remarry without fear of committing bigamy.
A MODEL FOR COURT
The Jewish divorce law has always been considered a model one even in the courts. Only recently a special parliamentary committee in England, assigned to investigate the existiing methods of divorce, came to the conclusion that the Jewish divorce law was the best.
The only defect in the Jewish divorce law was the provision that a wife could never be divorced if she did not know the whereabouts of her husband in order to obtain his consent to the action. This defect has new been remedied by the decision of the Rabbinical Assembly of America.