Open Doors - Women testimonies from the Rabbinical courts

Name:

Gila

“In court, there are rulings. They make decisions, straight to the point. He was not asked what he preferred or what he would like, whereas in Beit Din, the process was dragged out…”

Age: 55

Time spent fighting for Get: 11 years

Year of Get: 2016

The Dayanim realized from the start that there would be no “Shalom Bait” (spousal reconciliation), which was requested by the other party. However, they struggled to make the decision to compel the Get. I knew that as long as there was no obligation, I would not receive the Get; As long as they did nothing, more and more hearings were scheduled and the process was dragged on, I would not get a Get.

During that entire period, in civil court, the state of Israel held a trial for criminal charges against my ex-husband. The Dayanim were awaiting to hear of the developments in the criminal trial. My husband’s crimes were the reason I requested a Get, and I depended on the trial’s outcome. On the other hand, even after the court’s ruling, when it was clear that he would get sentenced, the Beit Din tarried with the obligation to grant me a Get.

During all those years we lived separately and there was no request for “Shalom Bait”, but they were supposedly waiting for the court’s ruling. It was clear that he was just not willing to grant me a Get and was merely stalling, and the fact that we lived separately was not enough cause for the Beit Din to compel a Get. My ex-husband would make things up and claim that there were unsolved matters between us, even though it was obvious that there was nothing left between us, and the Dayanim kept looking for subtle ways to entice him instead of releasing me. In addition, at a certain point, he demanded money in exchange for the Get. He suggested I give him money, and then one of the Dayanim took me aside and tried to convince me to do so. I refused to abide to the extortion and said I would not pay for my Get.

I was never yelled at or forced out of the courtroom during the hearings. It seemed that the Dayanim were understanding of my situation and kept trying to talk to him, hoping it would help. But that was all.

I arrived to each hearing feeling like it would all be over soon, but it went on for years. I felt helpless, and at times I would arrive to hearings and was simply told that “there would be no hearing”. No one informed me in advance or reimbursed me for the workdays I missed. Sometimes I’d arrive and some of the Dayanim were missing, so nothing could be done.

During all this time, he kept making my life miserable. It was only when things started affecting him that something changed. I had no choice. I had a lawyer, but I was looking for a change and reached out to “Mavoi Satum”.  Mavoi Satum’s lawyer organized a manifestation, which received media coverage. Ever since, things started to improve: the Dayanim took my case much more seriously, things moved faster and the Dayanim stated that they would impose sanctions. The moment they did so, my husband said he would grant me a Get. However, I waited 11 years for that moment. Until then, I felt that the hearings were being dragged out, and things became serious only when my case got covered by the media and I appeared on television and in newspapers.

Today, after the entire process, I have complex emotions regarding the Beit Din. They wish to help, but had they imposed the sanctions earlier instead of turning to him and asking him to “maybe grant her a Get?” this whole process would have ended sooner.

Due to the parallel proceedings in civil court, I could see the clear, sharp differences between the ways in which the civil court and the Beit Din operated. In court, there are rulings. In court, there are rulings. They make decisions, straight to the point. He was not asked what he preferred or what he would like, whereas in Beit Din, the process was dragged out.

The only thing that worked was imposing sanctions. At the time, he was already in jail due to the criminal charges held against him, and the sanctions imposed on him consisted of the fact that until a Get was granted, the time he served in jail would not count towards the serving of his sentence, and the count would be renewed only after he granted me a Get. As soon as that happened, he granted me the Get. The stalling was no longer worthwhile to him.

If there is one thing that I wish to convey, it is for people, men and women, to know the importance of signing an agreement. Although couples getting married should hope for 120 years of bliss, unfortunately, not everybody gets to live happily. Even though prenuptial agreements are not an easy or comfortable topic to discuss, it is important to do so. If you do not encounter any problems in your marriage, the agreement can’t hurt, but if there is a problem, it will help. Everyone must protect themselves. Perhaps, someday, female ‘Dayanot’ will be appointed and things will look different. In the meantime, it’s better to sign an agreement.

"I had a lawyer, but I was looking for a change and reached out to “Mavoi Satum”. Mavoi Satum’s lawyer organized a manifestation, which received media coverage. Ever since, things started to improve: the Dayanim took my case much more seriously, things moved faster and the Dayanim stated that they would impose sanctions. The moment they did so, my husband said he would grant me a Get. However, I waited 11 years for that moment."

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