New Book: Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel's Civil War


New Book Release: Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel's Civil War, by Susan Weiss and Netty Gross-Horowitz

Through the true stories of six women, this new publication by Brandeis University explores the phenomenon of agunot and get refusal in the State of Israel. From the tale of the “Clueless Agunah,” who marries like a member of the tribe and is oblivious to the legal consequences of doing so, to that of the “Reluctant Agunah,” who marries in a civil ceremony but grudgingly finds herself back on the steps of the rabbinic courts when she asks for divorce, the book exposes what happens behind the closed doors of the rabbinic tribunals. At the same time, it raises many questions: What are grounds for divorce in Israel? What are all the women’s groups complaining about? And most importantly: Is Israel a democracy or a theocracy?

The book, Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel's Civil War is the joint collaboration of Susan Weiss, a divorce attorney and activist, and Netty Gross-Horowitz, a journalist and investigative reporter. Both authors were born in the U.S., grew up in traditional Jewish homes, and immigrated to Israel as wives and mothers. Here, they discovered the large gap between Judaism and Jewish law in the U.S., a democratic country that separates church and state, and in the Jewish and democratic State of Israel, where the two are inseparably bound.

Weiss and Horowitz enter the lives of agunot and analyze their stories through the lens of human rights. They call for the institution of civil marriage and divorce in Israel in accordance with proposals introduced by Professor Pinhas Shifman. In light of the current coalition negotiations and the growing demands for civil marriage, the reader will find this book most timely and apt.

Susan Weiss, Esq., is founder and director of the Center for Women's Justice (CWJ) and has worked as a divorce attorney and activist for the last 25 years. She established two not-for- profit organizations--Yad L’Isha and CWJ-- that respond to the problem of the agunah, and pioneered the use of the innovative tactic of filing for damages against recalcitrant husbands in Israeli family civil courts. The Center for Women's Justice is a public interest law organization dedicated to defending and protecting the right of women in Israel to equality, dignity and justice within Jewish law. It carries out legal activity and advocacy aimed at ending practices that discriminate against women in the name of the Jewish religion.
Netty Gross-Horowitz, a leading journalist at the Jerusalem Report for many years, has covered a wide range of topics in Israel and abroad.

Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel's Civil War, Susan M. Weiss, Netty C. Gross-Horowitz, Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion, and Law HBI Series on Jewish Women, Brandeis University Press