Between the Lines

The Jewish divorce law is now coming to the fore in America. Only recently the Rabbinical Assembly of America dealt with it at length. Now the Vaad Harabonim, the Association of Rabbis of Greater New York, is considering measures to check what they call the Jewish “divorce racket.”

At the association’s convention which is now being held here, open accusation of maintaining so-called divorce mills, were made against a number of orthodox rabbis. These rabbis are charged with issuing divorces to husbands without even consulting the wives involved.

RESTRICTING RABBINICAL RIGHTS

A recommendation is therefore now under discussion at this convention to restrict the rights of the rabbi with regard to issuing a Jewish religious divorce. The proposed restriction provides that in future a Jewish divorce may be issued only by a Beth Din, a rabbinical court composed of not less than three rabbis.

That “divorce mills” exist in New York is a fact which cannot be denied. Individual reverends are issuing Jewish religious divorces at a cost of a few dollars, without even the knowledge of the woman who is being divorced—certainly without her consent.

THE PASSIVE WIFE

It is therefore to the credit of the rabbinical convention that this question has been taken up openly in order to put a stop to the abuse by some rabbis of the divorce law. It is essential that order once and for all be established in the chaotic divorce situation.

As is well known, the right to issue a divorce is vested, according to Jewish law, in the hands of the husband. The wife plays a passive role when it comes to divorce.

EQUAL RIGHTS ESSENTIAL

This unjust attitude towards the Jewish wife must be corrected. Equal rights should be given to the wife, in order not to make her dependent on the whim of the husband.

Although no common approach can be found by the different rabbinical groups in the United States on numerous problems in Jewish life, a practical solution to the Jewish divorce problem could be found if representatives of all these rabbinical groups get together just on the question of regulating operation of the Jewish divorce law.

ROUND TABLE CONFERENCE NEEDED

The rabbis in America owe it to the American-Jewish woman to find a common solution to the problems of the deserted or divorsed wife. There is no reason why a round table conference of representatives of all the rabbinical bodies should not be held in order to save the Jewish Desertion Bureau some of its unpleasant work and also to prevent cruel divorces on the part or irresponsible husbands.

The divorce racket among Jews must be stopped. The prestige of American Jewry demands it. Those who can stop it are the rabbis themselves. A round-table conference of rabbis of all groups is the need of the hour.

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