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July 13, 1990 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-07-13

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G.E.T. Hopes To Help
In The Getting Of A 'Get'


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FRIDAY, JULY 13, 1990

et is the Hebrew word
for divorce.
G.E.T. is also an
acronym for Getting
Equitable Treatment, a New
York-based organization
which assists individuals
seeking a Jewish divorce
from a recalcitrant spouse.
Its aim is to promote the
use of a prenuptial agree-
ment to prevent future prob-
lems with divorce.
The agreement, which
engaged couples would sign,
stipulates that in the case of
a civil divorce, neither party
will withhold from the other
a religious divorce.
The overwhelming
number of problems in Jew-
ish divorce involve men who,
despite completion of civil
divorce proceedings, refuse
to give the get to their wives.
Often the get is withheld
as a means of bribery or
blackmail regarding money,
property, or access to chil-
The Conservative move-
ment has dealt with the
problem in two ways, both
unacceptable to the Or-
thodox. The Reform move-
ment does not require a get.
One method used by Con-
servatives is the
"Lieberman clause," which
is added to the ketubah —
the marriage contract. The
clause, created by the late
Rabbi Saul Lieberman,
former head of the Jewish
Theological Seminary,
states that divorce disputes
will be referred to the court,
or bet din, of the Conser-
vative movement, which
shall take the necessary
remedies. The civil courts in
New York have abided by
But Orthodoxy says Jew-
ish law prohibits changing
the ketubah even by adding
to it.
The second Conservative
method is known as
"kiddushin al t'nai," which
imposes a conditional status
on the marriage.
The idea is that by signing
the ketubah and con-
secrating the woman to him
"by the law of Moses," the
husband is promising to
abide by Jewish law. If he
refuses to give a get, he is
not abiding by Jewish law
and thus there was never a
valid marriage and a get is
not required.
This is totally unaccep-
table to Orthodox rabbis,

who insist that marriages
cannot be conditional.
"When a couple is deciding
to get married, they can't be
signing an agreement about
a divorce," said Rabbi
Menashe Klein of Boro Park,
The prenuptial
agreements disseminated by
G.E.T. stipulate that in the
event of divorce, spouses will
appear before a Rabbinical
Court to terminate the mar-
riage according to Jewish
Some versions also state
that breach of contract en-
titles the injured party to
legal damages and relief by
civil courts. The agreements
do not deal with the division
of property and assets.
There are currently eight
different prenuptial
agreements written by Or-
thodox rabbis, and rabbinic
consensus on the subject ap-
pears remote.
The primary issue, accor-
ding to halachic authorities,
is that a Beth Din cannot
"coerce" a husband into giv-
ing a get.
Asked if being required to
live up to the terms of a
prenuptial contract is not
similar to being required to
live up to the terms of the
marriage contract, the
Boston rebbe, Levi Horowitz,
replied that the ketubah is a
document separate from the
institution of marriage.
It delineates the husband's
financial obligations to the
wife, but the marriage holds
even if he doesn't provide,
Horowitz explained. In any
event, it cannot be enforced.
Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik
of Chicago, a halachic au-
thority whose opinion would
be highly respected if he
were to endorse one par-
ticular document, agreed
that the Bet Din has no au-
Even if the husband has
signed an agreement he
cannot be forced give a get,
Soloveitchik said.
G.E.T. is opposed to mak-
ing the divorce contingent
on property settlements or
visitation rights.
In order to obtain their get,
women have been known to
forfeit apartments, bank ac-
counts and even child sup-
port payments. In some
cases, women have been
forced to give up custody of
their children.

Judith Antonelli is a staff
writer for the Jewish Advocate
in Boston.

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