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‘Get’ Case Heads to Brooklyn Supreme Court

Rivky Stein testifies against her husband, who won’t grant her a Jewish divorce

by
Stephanie Butnick
January 26, 2015
Brooklyn Supreme Court. (Wikimedia Commons)
Brooklyn Supreme Court. (Wikimedia Commons)

Rivky Stein, a 25-year-old Jewish woman whose husband refuses to grant her a get, a Jewish divorce document, faced off against him in Brooklyn Supreme Court last week. Stein and Yoel Weiss have been separated for more than two years, but Weiss’ withholding of the get means that Stein is a ‘chained woman,’ not permitted to date or remarry, stuck in a legal and social limbo within the Orthodox world. Her social media campaign to pressure Weiss went viral last year, with more than $24,000 in donations for legal fees coming in from supporters.

Stein’s civil case against Weiss deals with custody, child support, and alimony, but the issue of the get loomed large over the proceedings, the New York Post reports. Stein’s lawyer suggested that if Weiss continued to withhold the get, he should continue to support her financially. Stein’s testimony, meanwhile, detailed an abusive relationship, physically and emotionally, from the start.

“The night of the wedding, he made it clear that he owned me and that night he forced himself on me. I didn’t even know what happened. I felt stuck. I had nowhere to go back to,” testified Rivky Stein, 25, who was 18 when she married Yoel Weiss, then 26.

Weiss reportedly “chuckled” during Stein’s testimony, prompting Judge Esther Morgenstern to tell him, “There’s nothing funny here. I don’t see any humor.”

While the civil case may yield positive results for Stein, a resolution for her situation can only come from a beit din, or religious court, which handles Jewish divorces. Morgenstern can rule on child support and alimony, but only the religious court—and Weiss’ get—can extricate Stein from the relationship.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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