Southern Brooklyn

In Divorce Protests, Orthodox Group Makes Private Matters Public


Protesters from the Orthodox Jewish group, ORA (Organization for the Resolution of Agunot) took to the streets of Gravesend early Sunday morning to demand a local resident give his wife a get (a Jewish bill of divorce). They stood across the street from his home and chanted “Shame on you” and “Stop the Abuse.”

The protestors created quite a commotion on the sleepy East 7th Street block as neighbors watched, and police officers showed up to stand guard in front of the family’s home. It was a far cry from the normally private handling of Orthodox Jewish customs on social issues, and the second time in which they’ve protested in front of this family’s home.

Protestors handed out flyers explaining the Jewish custom and the concept of Agunot, or chained wife. Though a couple may be legally divorced, the separation is not recognized within the religion until the man grants a woman a get, which is an official bill of divorce that frees the woman to remarry. Without a get, any child – even from a legal remarriage – is seen as a bastard, and the woman as an adulterer. In some cases, the right has been used abusively to extract a better divorce settlement or to spite the spouse.

The details of the couple’s situation were not on clear display at Sunday’s protest, though a member of the family did step out of their home to hang posters depicting their side of the story.

Still, that didn’t dissuade the protestors.

“We try to do everything else in order to resolve these matters,” said protest leader and Stern College student Huvie Yugod. “But in this case, there was no other recourse.”

Several prominent rabbis are also joining the cause, including Rabbi Kenneth Auman of Young Israel of Flatbush, who had protested in front of the home on a separate occasion and Rabbi Jeremy Stern of the ORA, who helped organize the event.

“Usually, these issues are worked out peacefully, but this woman has been chained for too long and this situation has gone over the edge. In this protest, we are trying to shame him in front of his community,” said another protestor.

Comment policy


  1. I’m glad that they did this.  Embarass the husband for abusing his wife.  Good!  It also makes me feel a little bit better about the Orthodox community, as so many people think that all the women are treated wrongly, and are nothing but baby making machines – not true, the majority have the best of everything, plus house keepers to help them so they can care for their children.  Sounds purty good to me.

  2. Organized religion is (still) great!!  A wife should submit to her husband, haven’t you read the book people?  Now let’s all go back to that other thread and pile on Kon some more.


  3. I don’t know much about these matters, but I think some of these religious fanatics are nuts.

    Last month, I think it might have been on the Anderson Cooper Show where some rabbis were trying or did remove a child from the custody of an Orthodox woman who also was involved in a divorce.  They didn’t like the idea that she was a model and believed it wasn’t a suitable occupation for an Orthodox woman. They claimed she was unfit to be a mother because she wore pants although she followed all other Jewish traditions such as keeping kosher and the Sabbath.  There was another rabbi on the show who was fighting on the woman’s behalf.

    I don’t know or care about the specifics of this case, but I think it is a little ridculous when people get involved in something that is none of their business.

  4. Public displays of shame are not a good idea.  It’s judgement without consequence.  Keep all the shame in courts.  We don’t know both sides, we weren’t there when all the particulars happened, and for all we know, these protesters could be biased towards the wife, even if she’s in the wrong.

    If this idea catches on, it’s only a matter of time before it’s abused and people start getting hurt when someone decides to protest in front of a psycho’s home.

    If the only thing keeping a person chained to a life of unhappiness is their religion, then they have no one to blame but themselves if they continue to blindly follow it off a cliff.

  5.  Just to be clear, I’m not advocating the mistreatment of women.  I just think showing up in front of someone’s private property and holding a protest in front of their home is wrong.  It isn’t a business nor municipal property, and I can see them becoming a nuisance to neighbors who have nothing to do with any of it.

    I definitely wouldn’t want to be hearing that outside my home if my neighbor was being protested.

  6. In a case like this, public shame is the only way.  There was absolutely no violence, and the majority of the community probably didn’t even know what was going on.  When a community member dies, the other community members flood the streets outside of the deceased members house – I have seen this on numerous occasions.  Outsiders probably thought that there was a death in the family, if they thought about it at all.

  7. This was on the street (public property), not in a yard or on the steps going up to the door.  Yes, it certainly does become a nuisance – a friend of mine lived on East 10th street, right off of Quentin Road.  The Orthodox community does the same thing when a community member dies.  They crowd the sidewalks and flow out into the streets to pay respect.  They do not move for the cars, or anything else – but this is just how they do things.  If you were a member, you would never have to worry about crowds outside your home – provided you did the right thing.  The guy who lives here, evidently did NOT do right by his wife.

  8. So can spouses who are due child support do this? 
    What about protesting outside a laborer’s house for work undone?
    The possibilities are endless.
    Can a person get paid by the hour? 
    Maybe get paid to drive around with banners?

  9. I’d like to think the people doing this know both sides.
    What you said “Judgement without consequence”, Yesterday I tore down a flyer in SnS. Someone posted a pic of a local person and stated an issue. I went as far as to call the individuals office and tell them.
    Had it been signed or shown any form of identification of the individual posting it, I would have left it.

  10.  This has been part of their culture for a long time. It is not done lightly. they are out there because they wish one act to be done by the person who is the focus of this attention. All other forms of negotiation have failed.

  11. The homes in that area are very pricey.  I have noticed that most have housekeepers.  I also have been told, that many are ripping off the system by claiming their husbands left them and get all kinds of free benefits.

    So, why should anyone feel sorry for any of them. 

  12. Not what I wanted to imply.  I am not feeling sorry. Just wondering if there is a job market in this field.

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