Your editorial, “Celebrating Women’s Advances,” (Nov. 22), correctly extols the accomplishments of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance in all areas, except for their inability to persuade the Orthodox rabbinate to apply existing halachic principles that would allow for a systemic solution to the agunah problem, the most egregious plight facing Orthodoxy today.
You state, “Perhaps if the rabbis thought of their daughters in that unfortunate place of the agunah, they would be spurred to act.”
I and my colleagues at Agunah International Inc., who have more than 20 years of experience dealing with the agunah problem, also thought that if a rabbi’s daughter became an agunah, a halachic means would be found to free her. Sadly, this has not been the case. Among the agunot we have attempted to free, are daughters of Orthodox rabbis. We have been frustrated and saddened because even rabbis who are the fathers of agunot, have not been “spurred to act” to free their daughters from the bondage imposed by unscrupulous husbands.
The solution to the agunah problem lies in the hands of the community. The community must be educated as to the severity of the problem, and organized to influence the Orthodox rabbinate to apply a systemic halachic solution to free agunot.
One thousand years ago, as recorded in the Cairo Geniza, a document was signed along with the ketubah, allowing a woman to divorce her husband. The rabbis accepted this document as halachically valid then. Why not now?
Director, Agunah International Inc.