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Get refuser Anthony Sherman put in cherem by the Beth Din

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The Go-Getters - The SA Get Network - and Women-4-Women (W4W), a project of the Union of Jewish Women (UJW) Cape Town, have warned recalcitrant husbands that they will receive the same treatment as Capetonian Anthony Sherman, who has refused to grant his former wife a get.
by BRIAN JOSSELOWITZ | Jun 15, 2016

Sherman was put in cherem this past weekend by the Beth Din which excludes him from Jewish communal events as a way to pressurise him into granting his ex-wife a Jewish divorce. But despite the Beth Din’s efforts over the past four years he has remained obdurate.

A statement issued by the Orthodox Union of Synagogues on the Sherman case said that the sanctions imposed on the recalcitrant former husband include: that, he may not enter a shul, not receive an aliyah, not be included in a minyan or a mezuman and he may not be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Rosh Beth Din Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag previously said when he told Sherman that he could be put in cherem, it did not seem to bother him.

“Sherman had an extramarital affair which culminated in a divorce and since then he has not paid maintenance to his first family and is being sued for not paying maintenance,” Go-Getters and W4W said.

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein said last week Thursday, when he made clear that the Beth Din intended to place Sherman in cherem: “The halacha mandates us to do everything in our power to defend the rights of women and especially in a situation like this, where a husband maliciously withholds a get. Therefore, the Beth Din treats these situations with extreme seriousness…There is also very good South African legislation and so we have had hardly any agunah cases in South Africa.

“We must all support these sanctions against him because in so doing we support the strong moral stance of the halacha to fight on behalf of his ex-wife, whose rights are being violated by her recalcitrant husband.

“His behaviour is immoral and we, as a community, have the duty to take a strong stand against such conduct,” the Chief Rabbi said.

 

“The issue of men refusing to grant their former wives gittin is an old and tragic one,” says Rabbi Malcolm Matitiani of Temple Israel in Green Point. “While some Progressive rabbis issue a teudat hafreida - a certificate of separation - to annul the ketubah, all will marry a divorcee on presentation of a civil divorce decree. While it works for us, we recognise that it does not conform with Orthodox halacha.”

In their statement, Go-Getters and W4W said the giving of a get should be a simple process once the marriage has broken down.

“Before staring the Go-Getters campaign many people urged Anthony and Christie to do the morally correct thing by giving the get, but we couldn’t convince him. Sherman’s first wife who has been trying to protect their children, now supports the Beth Din’s decision to institute cherem. But she remains an agunah and by excommunicating Sherman, the rabbinate are sending a clear message that this type of behaviour is unacceptable in Jewish law.”

The social media campaign started by Go-Getters with W4W and UJW Cape Town highlighted that there are other women in this position.

“The Sherman case should serve as a strong warning to other South African get refusers, who are known to us and we will expose them, if necessary. It is intolerable to have men abuse halacha by withholding the get as a form of punishment.

“If we are asked to help either the spouse or the Beth Din, we will embark on appropriate campaigns. Some men attempt to intimidate their wives and children, but we and our legal team will pursue them to prevent this abuse. All we want is justice,” W4W and Go-Getters said.

Since news of the cherem decision was placed on the SA Get Network Facebook page on Monday, 24 655 people have seen it. “It has been shared 168 times, we had 134 comments, 247 people engaged the post and four South African agunot contacted us,” Go-Getters said.

 

8 Comments

  1. 8 Syd Kaye 16 Jun
    This is a result of Beth Din confused thinking. 
    Having the necessity for a "get" is a Jewish law requirement so how can they punish him for taking advantage of what the law affords him. 
    The simple and correct way out if it is to scrap the law so a Jewish woman doesn't even need to ask, and then no one will need to beg the recalcitrant husband to accede. 
  2. 7 Ronnie 16 Jun
    Did former Chief Rabbi , the Late Cyril Harris not instigate changes to South African divorce laws in that a Civil divorce document and the Religious divorce document (where applicable) must be simultaneous . In other words as far as Jewish law is concerned , no civil divorce without a GET. 
  3. 6 moderniser 16 Jun
    Agreed 
    the law is outdated , is demeaning to women and Gi Getters should spend their time influencing change at the source not the result.
    Alternatively, the Beth Din should have an override in the case is malicious obdurate husbands   
  4. 5 Baruch 17 Jun
    Wow Syd. Aren't you a clever little boy. You must be really bright to have thought of that all by yourself. 
  5. 4 Dov 17 Jun
    Sure, just scrap the law - why didn't we think of that?
    And while we're at it,let's scrap all the laws we don't like anymore, you know, that walking to shul thing is a pain, I mean, is it really considered "work" if we drive to shul on Shabbat? Oh, and that kosher stuff, really it's outdated, let's scrap those laws too - will make being a Jew so much easier. Just don't touch pickled herring and kneidlach - that stuff is scared.
  6. 3 Mike 20 Jun
    I think Dov, that scrapping the laws and adding more favourable ones is nothing new and traces back to the Babylonian exile
  7. 2 Dov 20 Jun
    Mike, there is a difference between what you are referring to and what Syd is asking for. There are rules and paramaters in which this can be done. And when dealing with biblically mandated issues it's not so simple, at least for authentic Judaism. Syd's request has found a home in reform, where indeed the laws have been scrapped.
  8. 1 Moderniser 22 Jun
    Dov - sorry you are so off piste - Are you not able  to see the difference in laws that are demeaning and discriminate against woman versus  Laws  which apply to all Jews. Unquestioned acceptance of archaic, discriminatory and harmful practices have no place in any religion ...and should be rejected  

    The very reason South Africa and most civilised countries have a constitution is to protect people against this 

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