Rabbi, wife charged with kidnapping in agunah case


(JTA) — U.S. authorities filed charges of kidnapping against a New Jersey rabbi and his wife for allegedly detaining and threatening to kill a recalcitrant husband.

David Wax, 49, and Judy Wax, 47, appeared in a federal court in Trenton, N.J., on Monday and each was released on a $500,000 bond, The Associated Press reported.

The couple are alleged to have lured Yisrael Briskman to their Lakewood, N.J., home last October with the possibility of assisting Wax, a noted scholar, on his next book.

Briskman allegedly fled Israel in 2008 after not granting his wife a religious writ of divorce, or "get," ordered by a rabbinical court.

Upon arriving at the Wax house, two men allegedly bound and beat Briskman, threatening to bury him alive in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains if he did not grant his wife a religious divorce. David Wax allegedly threatened to kill Briskman’s father if he did not pay Briskman’s ex-wife $100,000.

Supporters of the Waxes appeared in court when they were charged. The case now goes to a grand jury.

Lawyers for the couple said they would plead not guilty if they were indicted.

There have been calls in recent years for tougher measures to deal with husbands who refuse their wives a religious divorce, leaving them unable to remarry. Such women are known as "agunot," or chained.

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