Feb. 27, 2014

"Stuck in the Middle" Update: Gital Got Her Get

Earlier this year in our "Stuck in the Middle" show, we ran a story about women in the Orthodox Jewish community whose husbands refuse to give them a Jewish writ of divorce, called a "get" in Hebrew. Since that story aired, there's been an update on one person featured in the story.

Here's reporter Mark Oppenheimer with more:

My story featured a woman named Gital Dodelson, a law student and mother of a young son who has been waiting several years for her get. And on the morning of Feb. 5, an e-mail arrived in my in box, from somebody deep in the know. “Gital just got her get,” it read.

And indeed she had. Based on some follow-up reporting I have done — with people who refused to be named — I learned that Gital had to agree to certain slight amendments to the custody arrangement for her son. She also had to pay her ex-husband a lump sum in the low six figures. Rabbinic authorities generally agree that a woman should not have to pay money for a get, although people on the husband’s side said that the money didn’t begin to cover his legal expenses. Of course, Gital had legal expenses, too.

Meanwhile, there are many more Gitals. Two years ago, Barbara Zakheim, a Jewish women’s advocate in Washington, D.C., released the results of a census she had performed of agunot, or chained wives — women whose husbands won’t grant them divorces. She counted 462 such women in North America, a number that is surely low.