Lawmaker Recalls Measure on Jewish Religious Divorce Because Governor Intended to Veto It
Menu JTA Search

Lawmaker Recalls Measure on Jewish Religious Divorce Because Governor Intended to Veto It

Download PDF for this date

Assemblyman Sheldon Silver (D. Manhattan) said today he had recalled a measure, sponsored by him and approved by both the Assembly and Senate of the 1982 Legislature, on the problem of Jewish religious divorces because Governor Hugh Carey’s office had informed him the Governor intended to veto it.

Silver also told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he intended to introduce a new bill in the 1983 Legislature similar to one he had sponsored, also approved by both houses, to provide time off for observance of religious holidays by Jewish and non-Jewish teachers. Carey vetoed that bill last Thursday. Silver withdrew the divorce (“get”) bill also last Thursday.

Carey had been advised by his counsel that both measures were unconstitutional. The religious holiday time-off measure provided that teachers in the New York City public school system could deduct leave credits from accumulated sick leave to observe eligious holidays.

Under its provision a New York City public school teacher, who wanted to take time off for observance of a day holy to his or her religion, could deduct without penalty up to eight days in a school year from sick leave accumulated in past school years.

Silver said objections to his measure were filed with the Governor by the State Commissioner of Education, the Public Employes Relations Board and Mayor Edward Koch of New York City. They contended the matter was one for collective bargaining and not a matter for legislation.


The “get” measure was a civil bill designed to ease a centuries-old disability imposed on the observant Jewish wife whose husband refuses to give her a Jewish divorce (a “get”). An observant Jewish woman is barred from marriage unless her husband gives her a “get.”

Believed to be the first law of its kind, the measure provided that when one party to a civil divorce action complained of a barrier to remarriage imposed by the other, the issue could be submitted to a fact-finding and mediation panel, appointed by the judge hearing the divorce suit, which would have had the function of determining whether such a barrier did exist and, if it did, whether either party would remove it.

Silver told the JTA that, in making plans for the “get” bill, he had received a statement on its constitutionality from Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard University law professor, who is an activist in Jewish causes. Silver said he had asked Dershowitz for a more comprehensive analysis on the constitutionality of his “get” proposal which he intended to send to Carey to demonstrate that the measure was constitutional.

Silver said the effect of his recall was to put the measure in legislative limbo. He said Carey, once the Dershowitz material is submitted to him, can either approve the bill or veto it. Silver said the Governor can act at any time up to the technical termination of the current session of the Legislature on December 31.

Silver said that if Carey remains unpersuaded by the planned Dershowitz analysis and vetoes the bill, he (Silver) will move to introduce a similar measure in the 1983 Legislature when perhaps a new Governor will see the matter differently. Carey has announced he does not plan to seek re-election.

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