How to Prevent a Modern Day Agunah

What are the benefits and challenges of Jewish marriage and divorce? What is the wedding officiant's role in making couples aware of the Halakhic Prenup and of agunah prevention? What can we learn about the halakhic and legal nuances of the Prenup, both in the U.S. and Israel? Which other agunah prevention methods hold merit? In JOFA's upcoming blogcast, communal leaders and advocates will explore different approaches to this difficult issue. 

Please join Dr. Rachel LevmoreRabbi Dov Linzer, Keshet Starr and Dr. Susan Weiss on July 18-20, 2016 for a stimulating discussion. Click here to ask our panelists questions. 

Dr. Rachel Levmore, Rabbinical Court Advocate, is the Director of the Agunot and Get-Refusal Prevention Project, of the International Young Israel Movement in Israel and the Jewish Agency. Rachel is one of a team that developed a Prenuptial Agreement for the Prevention of Get-Refusal─ “The Agreement for Mutual Respect”. She is a sitting member of the State of Israel Commission for the Appointment of Rabbinical Court Judges. As an expert on the agunah problem she is the author of “Min’ee Einayikh Me’Dimah” on prenuptial agreements, published in Hebrew. Dr. Levmore is a recipient of the prestigious Bonei Zion Prize. She holds a Ph.D. degree in Jewish Law from Bar Ilan University and lectures about halakha, women in halakha and divorce in Jewish Law, in Israel and Jewish communities around the world.

Rabbi Dov Linzer is the Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and the primary architect of its groundbreaking curriculum of Torah, Halakha, pastoral counseling and professional training.  He teaches regular classes in advanced Talmud, advanced Halakha and the thought of Modern Orthodoxy, and serves as a religious guide to the yeshiva’s 47 rabbinical students and its close to 100 rabbis currently serving in the field.  Rabbi Linzer has been a leading rabbinic voice in the Modern Orthodox community for over 20 years, and teaches a Daf Yomi shiur which is available on YouTube and iTunes, as well as the Joy of Text podcast, together with Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, on the topic of sex, halakha and Orthodoxy. Rabbi Linzer also publishes a widely-read parasha sheet and has begun to publish teshuvot on a wide range of contemporary halakhic topics. He was most recently the convener of the 2012 Modern Orthodox Siyyum HaShas.

Keshet Starr is the Director of Advocacy and Legal Strategy at the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA).  At ORA, Starr coordinates grassroots activism and provides guidance and support to individuals navigating the Jewish divorce process. ORA advocates for the elimination of abuse in the Jewish divorce process, and seeks to prevent future cases by promoting the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement. Starr is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two young children.

Dr. Susan Weiss is an attorney and Ph.D. anthropologist and sociologist. Long acknowledged as a legal gadfly and innovator, she has been actively working for more than 20 years to create legal solutions that protect Israeli women from human rights violations stemming from Israel’s entanglement of religion and state. A noted lecturer and author, Susan began this work as a private attorney defending divorcing women, intensifying her efforts as the founder and director of Yad L'Isha from 1997-2004. She is currently the executive director of the Jerusalem-based Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ), where she initiated the innovative legal practice of suing recalcitrant Jewish husbands for civil, tort damages if they refuse to deliver a Jewish divorce (a get) to their wives. This tactic has been noted as “game-changing” by leading attorneys as well as the prestigious Ha’aretz news daily.  Susan is an editor of “The Law and its Decisor,” a journal published by Bar Ilan University Law School, and has co-authored the book, “Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel's Civil War.”  In recognition of her work, Susan has been honored with a number of prestigious awards including the NCJW/Jewel Bellush Outstanding Feminist Award (2013), Israel Bar Association Women in Law Award (2009), and La’Isha magazine’s “Alternative Torch-Bearer” Award (2007).