Wednesday, March 23, 2005

One down, One to go

Last month the media reported on the burial in Israel of one of the last two remaining Jews in Afghanistan. Yitzhak Levi died in Kabul in January. With the assistance of Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the US government and the International Red Cross, his remains were flown to Israel.

With Levi's death, another aguna was free at last. Tragically, she had to wait over 20 years for her freedom as Levi was a recalcitrant husband. He had sent his wife and five children to Israel in the early 1980s from Afghanistan, promising to join them after he "organized a few matters."

When it was clear that Levi had no intention of either coming to Israel or supporting his family, his 40-year-old wife asked for a divorce. For the last two decades the parties had been "negotiating" over the amount of money Levi would receive in payment for freeing his wife.


Now only one Jew, Aaron Simantov, remains in Afghanistan and – believe it or not – he too is a recalcitrant husband. His wife and children have lived in Israel for over a decade without any support. He refuses to free his wife, who remains a "living widow."

Apparently, some religious leaders involved in returning Levi's body to Israel suggested to Mr. Simantov that unless he gives his wife a get immediately, she may be freed in the same way Levi's wife was released.

And may he join him shortly. For every woman kept as an Agunah is to keep her locked in a jail cell. For every woman kept an Agunah, children who should have been born, remain unborn. We condemn abortion and yet the future children of such women are aborted before they have even had a chance to be born.

Taanit Esther has been designated International Agunot Day and may the decrees that keep Jewish women in chains be anulled on Purim as Esther HaMalka brought about the annulment of Haman's decree against the jews.


scionofzion said...

the problem of agunot is a horrible one indeed. the wives who keep Torah suffer a life of loneliness. How many others say "screw it" and go on with their lives bringing the horrible sin of adultery to k'lal yisroel, and mamzerim, chas v'shalom! We can vindictively say that it is all on the recalcitrant husband's head but all of Israel is hurt by this just like an entire body hurts when one part of it is injured.
Really, something MUST be done. Maybe some ba'alei tzedakahs can bribe these husbands into granting their divorces if a heart to heart talk doesn't awaken their compassion.

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