New Book Seeks Agunah Solutions An Israeli legal scholar offers rabbinic sources to show precedents for leniency in freeing women from marital limbo. Debra Nussbaum Cohen--Staff Writer. A new book by an Israeli legal expert, Aviad Hacohen, promises to return to public attention the legal technique used to dissolve the marriages of agunot, women whose estranged husbands refused to grant them a Jewish divorce, an approach which prompted waves of controversy in 1997, when it was first used. That was when Rabbi Emmanuel Rackman ...
New Book Seeks Agunah Solutions An Israeli legal scholar offers rabbinic sources to show precedents for leniency in freeing women from marital limbo. Debra Nussbaum Cohen--Staff Writer. A new book by an Israeli legal expert, Aviad Hacohen, promises to return to public attention the legal technique used to dissolve the marriages of agunot, women whose estranged husbands refused to grant them a Jewish divorce, an approach which prompted waves of controversy in 1997, when it was first used. That was when Rabbi Emmanuel Rackman, chancellor emeritus of Bar Ilan University, went public with the fact that he was employing little-used aspects of Jewish law in order to free hundreds of women whose husbands were keeping them legally chained to dead marriages. Rabbi Rackman's work was met with criticism from rabbis in virtually all sectors of the Orthodox world. But, with the assistance of a handful of rabbinic colleagues and supportive women, he has continued to solve the dilemmas of agunot, doing so for several dozen in the last year or two and several hundred in total, he said in an interview. The heart of the new book "The Tears of the Oppressed: An Examination of the Agunah Problem--Background and Halachic Sources" (Ktav), is devoted to the same legal principle that Rabbi Rackman employed: "kiddushei ta' ut," or "mistaken marriage," a principle based on asserting that the marriage was never authentic and therefore need not be annulled. The book, edited by Blu Greenberg, a Jewish Orthodox feminist leader, offers 28 rabbinic legal decisions, originally published from the 12th through 20th centuries, as precedents for solving the agunot dilemma through this application. For scholars, the bookincludes facsimiles of the original decisions; some are well known, and others Hacohen unearthed from near-forgotten files at Israel's National Library.
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Very good in Very good jacket. xvi, 159 pages. Text in English with some text in Hebrew. Oversized book, measuring 11-1/4 inches by 8-1/2 inches. Footnotes. Includes Introduction, Foreword (by Menachen Elon), Acknowledgments, Afterword (by Emanuel Rackman), Glossary, Appendix (Responsa of Chapter 8), and Index. Includes 10 chapters with discuss Background, A Word of Caution, Attitudes of Compassion and Leniency, Relaxation of the Laws of Evidence Concerning Agunot: Example of a Methodology Favoring Leniency; The Uniqueness of the Problem in Our Day; The Basic Sources for Kiddushei Ta'ut; The Rishonim and the Codes: Stringent and Lenient Approaches; The Responsa Literature; General Principles to be Derived from the Precedents; and Conclusion. Inscribed by the Editor (Blu Greenberg) on the page opposite the title page. Inscription reads: To David, In appreciation of all that you do for the Jewish people, and more--especially the deep bonds of friendship between our families, Blu. This book examines one of the most difficult legal and social questions in the Jewish world today, that of the agunah or "chained woman". An Agunah is a married Jewish woman who may not remarry--because the death of her husband has not be verified or because she is unable to obtain a get from her husband. The author of this book presents the case of greater application of a legal methodology of early origins. Entitled kiddushei ta'ut, it is a process by which the court examines the facts as they existed at the time of marriage to determine whether or not a valid marriage was ever constituted. Aviad Hacohen (1962-) is an Israeli attorney and professor of law. He is a member of the Center for Women's Justice Israel, the Yeshivat Har Etzion Foundation and the Takana Forum that addresses sexual harassment in the religious community. Blu Greenberg (born January 21, 1936, in Seattle, with the name Bluma Genauer, later legally changing her first name to Blu) is an American writer specializing in modern Judaism and women's issues. Her most noted books are On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition (1981), and Black Bread: Poems, After the Holocaust (1994). She has a B.A. in political science from Brooklyn College, an MA in clinical psychology from the City University of New York, and an MS in Jewish history from Yeshiva University. Greenberg is active in the movement to bridge Judaism and feminism. In February 1973, she gave the opening address at the first National Jewish Women's Conference, which was held in New York City. In 1997 and 1998, she chaired the first and second International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy, and she is the founder and the first president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. She has also tried to build bridges between women of different faiths by helping to set up "Women of Faith", and by her involvement in the "Dialogue Project", which seeks to unite Jewish and Palestinian women. She lectures widely at universities and to Jewish communities in the United States and elsewhere. She also created the famous saying, "Where there's a rabbinic will, there's a halakhic way."
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