Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Orthodox Jewish woman reveals her 10-YEAR struggle to divorce her husband despite them living apart for over a decade


An Orthodox Jewish woman from New York City has earned widespread support after revealing that she has been trying to get to get a divorce for over ten years — all because her husband refuses to grant her one under Jewish law. 

Chava Herman Sharabani separated from her ex-husband, Naftali Sharabani, over a decade ago, but has been unable convince him to give her a 'get,' a document that terminates a marriage under Jewish law — which has left her unable to date or remarry.  

Though Chava has still not succeeded in obtaining a get, the 30-year-old teacher and mother-of-two has drummed up immense online support and awareness — and has prompted more women to come forward with their own stories, including 17 who have managed to finally get out of their marriages with help from the #FreeChava movement.

Chava married Naftali in 2006. They went on to have two daughters, but it was not a happy arrangement.

The marriage was not good, to say the least,' she said in a video on Instagram discussing her plight. 'I was dealing with an abusive husband constantly.'

In 2010, after four years of marriage, Chava packed up her kids and left, moving in with her parents.

'When I went to a lawyer, they said, "OK, this seems like an easier case. This should end soon. We just have to figure out just visitation."' 



Though they would eventually get a civil divorce, for it to be completed under Jewish law, it must go through a 'beth din,' or a rabbinical court. Though both the wife and husband participate in the process, it is the husband who gives the get to the wife, with him releasing her from marriage.

After the marriage is officially dissolved, the woman must wait at least 92 days to remarry.

But if a husband refuses to grant a get to his wife, she is stuck. She can not date or remarry, and has no recourse to move forward without his agreement. In the community, women in the position are called 'agunha,' the Hebrew word for a woman who is 'chained' or stuck in a marriage. 

That ended up being the case for Chava, who is still battling for her freedom.

'[He] said, "I will never give you a get, I will take the kids away from you, I'll put you in a mental home." I didn't realize at the time how serious he was,' she said.  

She and Naftali went through the courts in New York, with Naftali suing for full custody of the children and trying to paint Chava as an unfit mother. The court in New York, however, didn't see it that way, and granted custody to Chava, taking away some of Naftali's visitation rights.

Finally, in 2017, the civil divorce went through, with Naftali ordered to pay child support — including for all the years he missed.

Chava's lawyers told him he could be off the hook for the back payments — as long as he granted Chava a get.

He still refused. And with Chava and the kids still in Brooklyn, he moved across the country to Los Angeles and cut off all communication with his children, telling Chava not to to contact him.

But while we was off in LA living it up, she was still chained to the marriage, raising their kids and unable to remarry.

'Here I was for 10 and a half years, running after people, asking "Can you help me? Is there anything to do?" And they’re always like, "I don’t know. Call me in a week." It was just a constant banging my head on the wall,' she told Vogue

'There's so much pain, so much suffering. It's been so long,' Chava said. 'I would love to just end this. End this misery... My kids are suffering also.'

Then Chava came across Dalia Oziel, a Jewish singer with over 35,000 Instagram followers. Dalia had shared the story of another Jewish woman, Rifka Meyer, who herself waited almost ten years for her husband to grant her a get.

Inspired, Chava reached out to Dalia and asked for help spread her story. She even provided a flyer with ex-husband's photo and the line: 'Get Refusal Is Abuse.' 

Dalia shared Chava's story, and has continued to keep her followers posted. She also started the hashtag #FreeChava, and began an Instagram page called The Get Busters to campaign for women in similar positions.

The movement has continued to grow. On February 25, women wore pink in solidarity with Chava. There have also been several rallies for Chava and other women in similar situations in New York and New Jersey. 

And more Orthodox Jewish women trapped in marriages without a get have come forward to share their own stories, pointing to a larger problem in the community.

'I can’t tell you how many calls a day I get from people, women who’ve been suffering for years, but they didn’t even know they could say something,' Yael Braun, an advocate in the Jewish court system, told Vogue. 'They didn’t have a voice, and Chava really broke that. She broke the stigma of what an agunah is.'

Their stories have attracted more activists who are fighting against get refusal and trying to pressure rabbis to stop this from happening. 

Increased pressure seems to have delivered results, at least for some. Braun said that the first viral post about Chava in late February, 17 women have obtained gets that had been previously withheld. One had been trapped for 18 years.

But Chava is still waiting for Naftali to grant her get and set her free.

'The amount of love that we received, the support, I'm so grateful,' said Chava. 'My dream for other agunahs is that they’ll have protection, that they won’t be used as leverage.' 



1 comment:

frum but normal said...

Animals like this guy must be treated exactly like you would treat a rabies infected wild animal.
A married woman becomes free in two ways, either a GET (divorce papers) or DEATH