Israel’s chief rabbi ordered delay of woman’s burial until her son gave his wife a Jewish divorce

David Lau

By MARCY OSTER
JERUSALEM (JTA) –A man who has refused to give his wife a religious Jewish divorce for a decade consented to set her free in order to allow his dead mother to be buried.

Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, David Lau, ordered the delay of the burial as long as the deceased’s son withheld the divorce, or get.

Her body reportedly arrived in Israel late Monday night and was scheduled to be buried on Tuesday morning. She reportedly was buried later in the day.

A rabbinical court in the United States ordered the man, an American citizen, to give his wife a get and sanctioned him with social ostracism, including banning him from participating in synagogue services and calling on the community to limit social and economic contacts with him.

The man remarried five years ago under the auspices of an unofficial rabbinical court not recognized by the official Jewish courts, Haaretz reported. Under Jewish law, a woman may not remarry without a religious divorce.

He did not accompany his mother’s body to Israel because he was afraid he would be arrested.

The U.S. rabbinical court reportedly asked Lau to withhold the burial until he agreed to the get. It noted in a letter to the Chief Rabbinate that the man’s mother supported him in his decision to keep his wife an agunah, or chained woman, Haaretz reported.

“When all the other options were exhausted, we had to inform the burial society not to bury the mother until the son provides a kosher divorce,” Lau said in a statement. “We hope this move will soon bring about a divorce and the woman will be released.”

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