N.Y. - A social media and phone campaign to bar an estranged husband from the Yeshiva of Staten Island is the latest gambit in an increasingly aggressive and professionally-orchestrated effort to extract a "get" from the son of a prominent Island Jewish family.
Rabbi Yosaif Asher Weiss of Prince's Bay, who has defended his son and family against accusations by his estranged daughter-in-law, Gital Dodelson, reportedly has taken a leave of absence from Artscroll publishing house, which was the target of a boycott promoted on Ms. Dodelson's web site.
Rabbi Weiss is the father of Avrohom Meir Weiss, formerly of Staten Island, who now lives in New Jersey, as does his estranged wife Ms. Dodelson.
The Weiss family is well-known in the Island Jewish community and various relatives have worked for both Artscroll and the Yeshiva of Staten Island in Pleasant Plains.
Ms. Dodelson first asked Avrohom Meir Weiss for a "get," which is a Jewish bill of divorce, four years ago, and their civil divorce was finalized in August 2012. Ms. Dodelson claims on her Facebook page that Weiss refuses to give her a "get" unless she agrees to myriad conditions.
"We turn to the administration of the Yeshiva of Staten Island, where he studies, to protest against him and to remove him from the Kollel" says a notice posted on Ms. Dodelson's web site. "Tell them in no uncertain terms that withholding a get is NOT acceptable."
Supporters are urged to call the yeshiva and the phone number and address are listed on the web site. Calls to the yeshiva for comment weren't immediately returned.
Shira Dicker, who described herself in an email to the Advance as "part of Team Gital," acknowledged that "Gital is one of my clients" and became defensive when asked whether she was paid for her services.
"I have seen some people jump on the fact that the Dodelsons hired a publicist as if this is some kind of crime or sinister strategy," Ms. Dicker said. "That really confuses me. What is problematic about a victim taking her story public? I hope that is NOT what your question implied. Other women in Gital's position hired hit men."
Ms. Dodelson's Facebook page includes a letter from Rabbi Weiss and his brother, Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, who worked at Artscroll, describing the "get" dispute. Rabbi Yosaif Weiss declined to comment other than to verify the authenticity of the letter.
"As we believe you are aware, all the accusations and pressures attendant to the campaign of slander that has been leveled against our families, including the heinous desecration of G-d's Name recently perpetrated by the Dodelson family, are based on untruths and lies," the rabbis said in the letter.
The letter goes on to say that, with regret, they "ARE LEAVING ARTSCROLL/MESORAH UNTIL THIS SITUATION IS RESOLVED."
A get is given by a husband and received by his wife in order to end a Jewish marriage. Without a get, neither party is permitted to remarry according to Jewish law. An agunah is a woman whose marriage has functionally ended but whose husband refuses to give her a get, said the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, which has championed Ms. Dodelson's cause on Facebook.
By Maura Grunlund * Staten Island Advance