Seeking to prevent Orthodox women from becoming agunot — so-called “chained” women whose husbands deny them a religious writ of divorce — the three Modern Orthodox synagogues in St. Louis collectively hosted a mass post-nuptial agreement signing this weekend.
Spearheaded by Rori Picker Neiss, director of programming, education and community engagement at Bais Abraham Congregation, the event resulted in 31 couples signing post-nuptial agreements. Picker Neiss said several additional couples could not attend the event but signed the document afterwards, bringing the week’s total to over 40.
“The agunah problem is huge and has gotten a lot of attention of late,” said Picker Neiss, who will be ordained as clergy later this year by Yeshivat Maharat in New York. “We did this to show a positive response, rather than complaining or beating people up. If any of the marriages do dissolve, now they have this document that provides protection. We are trying to make this the communal norm.”
The St. Louis event was not the first group signing — others have been held recently in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — but this was the first time several congregations jointly hosted one, Picker Neiss said.