Take a moment from the busy, at times cynical, lives we lead and listen to one person’s story – for she wrote us all a letter:
To whom it may concern,
My name is Dr Tova Goldfine. I currently live in Jerusalem after making Aliya from the suburbs of Philadelphia. Tamar Epstein and I are both from the same community and know many of the same people from that community. Another very important fact is that Tamar and I were each married to a man who was “special, unique and charismatic” at least through our rose colored glasses. There were people in our common world who advised us each not to tie the knot with this “so unique” human being.
When my marriage ended, my husband refused to grant me a divorce by providing the get, the divorce document required by Jewish religious law. I was an agunah (victim of get refusal) for 11 years and Tamar has now been an agunah for over four years. Being an agunah means living in limbo, with no ability to remarry.
Tamar and I both have one daughter from our husbands. We are devoting much of our time and energy to teaching our daughters that in spite of this ambiguous law about a man having to give the women a get, the Torah is the word of God.
It had tested my emunah (faith) for the last 11 years and I am sure it is testing Tamar Epstein on a daily basis. No one ever wants to be a “single mom.” Most of us believe in the traditional family unit that has been passed down for generations. There is a mother and a father and they have children and everyone lives under one roof. Anything short of that tests our longstanding values and traditions.
This has been the hardest idea for me to own and accept. I prefer not to have to play mommy and daddy and bear all the responsibilities.
Every agunah’s story is different and each is its own interlaced series of events that shape us; whom we have become and what we will become. My personal story is now my personal victory because I didn’t give up and I surrounded myself with the right people and the support I needed. I am free and this has spoken to me in different ways; it is still speaking as I understand the nature of what a Get really means. I may not know everything it means. The one thing I do know is I can’t be really free if other women are not. If other agunahs are waiting for their husbands to decide to sign a Get, this is unjust and unfair.
Tamar Epstein has been and continues to be treated with injustice and we all need to help set her free.
Dr Tova Goldfine
See the rest of the article from the Times of Israel.
Thursday, February 21 (Fast of Esther) marks the International Agunah Day. Learn more about Agunot and Jewish Divorce on the JOFA website.