By Robyn Shames, Executive Director ICAR
Today, MK Dr. Aliza Lavie sponsored an event in the Knesset together with ICAR (the International Coalition for Agunah Rights) in honor of International Agunah Day, marked every year on Taanit Esther. The purpose of the event was to present to the Knesset a variety of legislative initiatives that could be undertaken and which would greatly improve the plight of the Agunah.More than 10% of the Knesset members participated in the event, from a variety of the political parties, all of them new members of the legislative body.
The Knesset members that participated in the event were Dr. Aliza Lavie, Rabbi Dov Lipman, Boaz Toporovsky, Rabbi Shai Peiron, Penina Tamno-Shata and Micky Levy from Yesh Atid. Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, Shuli Mualem, Avi Vartzman and Nissan Slomiansky from HaBayit Hayehudi. Meirav MIchaeli and Micky Rosenthal from HaAvoda and Michal Rozin from Meretz.
The session opened with a difficult story of a former Agunah who said that the rabbinical court judges told her to offer a large sum of money to her husband in order to obtain his consent to give the Get, otherwise she may never see it. It was amazing how many MKs were shocked by this story, which many of us in the field take as commonplace.
ICAR presented a number of issues that all of our organizations are promoting together, solutions that work within the boundaries of Halacha, including the allocation of 50% representation of women on the appointment committee of the rabbinical courts and ending the race of jurisdiction between the civil and religious courts. Representatives of our member organizations presented their own wish list from this Knesset, including female rabbinical court judges, civil marriage, and separation of religion and state.
Overall, the response from all of the MKs was very positive and they all announced their commitment to bring real change to this painful issue. We can only hope that the impressive turnout and these encouraging early signs will indeed bring about new and creative efforts by the current Knesset to try to solve the plight of the Agunah.