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Monday, July 28, 2008

Knock Out: Man Ordered to Pay 550,000 NIS in Damages for Refusing to Give a Get

July 21, 2008: Judge Benzion Greenberger of the Jerusalem Family Court awarded damages in the amount of 550,000 NIS against a man who refused to give his wife a get, without such award being contingent upon a rabbinic court ruling of any sort. This decision is the first of its kind. Prior to this decision, the family court had held that damages for get refusal were only payable subsequent to a rabbinic court order that a husband must give his wife a get (Judge HaCohen, 2004. Read his decision, in English). Such rabbinic court "orders" are rare and hard to come by.

This new decision celebrates and protects the autonomy and dignity of Jewish women. It is, in my opinion, an unequivocal statement that Israeli family courts will award damages for the harm that results when a man misuses the prerogatives given to him under religious law -- even when that law is the official law of the State of Israel. CWJ represented the woman.

Read Judge Greenberger's 2008 decision in Hebrew. English translation to follow.