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British Rabbi to Post Names on Web to Help Give Orthodox Women Divorces

An Orthodox rabbi in London is preparing to name and shame estranged husbands who refuse to give their wives a Jewish divorce that would enable them to remarry according to Jewish law. Rabbi Pini Dunner of the Saatchi Synagogue in London said the names will be posted on his shul’s Web site next month.

“We want to do whatever we can to marginalize and point the finger at those who are abusing their rights within halachah to put women in this state,” Dunner said.

Any woman whose husband refuses her a get will be invited to tell the rabbi of his name, address and synagogue affiliation, and after the appropriate legal checks have been conducted, his details will be posted on the Web site.

Dunner anticipates requests from “several dozen women” who are classified as agunot, or chained women, who are prevented from remarrying in an Orthodox ceremony.

Any children born to an agunah are classified as mamzerim, or illegitimate, and may marry only other mamzerim, according to Jewish law.

No such provision applies to a husband who fathers children without first completing the Orthodox requirements for divorce.

About 100 men and women last month chained themselves outside the office of British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to protest the religious divorce laws.

Sacks announced earlier this year that an additional person would be appointed to his Beit Din, or religious court, in a bid to find a solution to the problem, but no answer has been found.

At least one Orthodox rabbi in London is expressing a willingness to follow Dunner’s example: “If somebody submitted to me a list of men who refused to grant their wives religious divorces, I would certainly be prepared to hang that list up in my synagogue,” declared Rabbi Yitzhak Schochet of Mill Hill United Synagogue.

Public humiliation was likely to be more effective than seeking a change in the law, he added. “There are all these madames in Hollywood who threaten to name their clients.

“This is the same idea and I think, to a certain extent, it will work.”

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