Search This Blog

Thursday, November 7, 2013

'On paper I'm free, but I'm still imprisoned': Meet the Orthodox Jewish woman whose husband won't let her leave

A woman has opened up about desperately trying to untangle herself from her ex-husband, who continues to exert his control over her by manipulating Jewish law.

Gital Dodelson, 25, wrote in the New York Post that she divorced her husband Avrohom Meir Weiss in 2012, but she has spent the last four years trying to get him to grant her a 'get' - the document that must be signed by a husband for a divorce to be recognized by Jewish law.

Without it, 'men can't even look at me,' explains the law student. 'Under the eyes of God, I'm still married, chained to someone who refuses to release me back into society.'

The mother-of-one from Lakewood, New Jersey, explained that her husband - whom she says has always been a controlling man - comes from a respected rabbinic family, making it all the more difficult to loosen herself from his power.

After numerous attempts to reach an agreement, all met with the same defiance, Ms Dodelson has decided to make her story public in an effort to move on with her life.

She says she saw signs that Mr Weiss would be a difficult husband just three days into their marriage in 2009, when they spent their first Shabbat together in complete silence.

Explaining that the observance is typically a female tradition, she says he lost his temper when she was telling him how it was done in her family.

'When my way contradicted his way, he criticized me and turned angry,' she writes.

Her husband then told her: 'You have no choice. It's not my way' - an attitude he was to exhibit consistently over the following four years.

Not only did he have the final say when it came to religious observances, but he also had control over how their shared finances were used, even though Ms Dodelson was the sole breadwinner.

When she suggested couples therapy, he refused, and every attempt to communicate was met with silence and hostility.

It was when she became pregnant that she decided to take a stand against her overbearing other half.

'I thought: "How can I bring a child into this world with a virtual stranger? Someone I'm so disconnected from?"' she says.

Mr Weiss ultimately granted her a divorce - after first attempting to file for sole custody of their son Aryeh - but he still won't sign a get, despite her pleas.

By refusing to give her a get, Mr Weiss is merely continuing to exert his power over her, says Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot.

This is further reinforced by the fact that refusing to issue a get is viewed in Jewish law as domestic abuse.

What's more, as a man Mr Weiss is free to date other woman openly, while his ex-wife is stuck in limbo in her community, where it would be considered adultery for her to move on romantically without a get.

For his part, Mr Weiss appears to be fully aware of his own manipulative nature.

During Ms Dodelson's most recent attempt to convince him about a month ago, he apparently said to her: 'I can't give you a get - how else would I control you?'

The only conditions by which he says he would sign the get, according to, would be if she rearranged the custody arrangement and gave him $350,000 - a fee she simply can't afford.

'On paper, I am a free woman,' she writes. 'But this means nothing in halacha, and I'm still imprisoned by my husband to this day.'

No comments:

Post a Comment