How to Get a Jewish Divorce


Just as Judaism offers rituals to make marriage
sacred… when divorce is necessary,
Judaism also provides a sacred context. Most Rabbis do this with a Jewish bill of
divorce, a Get. Notably the Reform movement, and others,
don’t require a Get, feeling it’s outdated. Rabbis in these movements sometimes tweak
the traditional get, suggest complete alternatives,
or offer more contemporary ceremonies. Sometimes, they’ll still recommend a Get
through the Conservative or Orthodox branches of Judaism,
to avoid running into future problems, and there are a few.
For instance, when entering into a new Jewish marriage,
you could be told you were never technically Jewishly divorced,
so you need to get in touch with your ex to get a Get –
digging up what might be an uncomfortable past.
And there’s the problem of the Agunah. In traditional Jewish law,
if a husband refuses to give his wife a get, she’s forbidden from remarrying.
These issues are messy and complex, but worth reading about –
although a little in the weeds for those not concerned with
Halacha, or traditional Jewish law. So what is a Get?
It’s a document that says nothing about the marriage
or details of why you’re getting divorced. It’s very basic –
saying the marriage is over, and the man gives the woman permission to
marry whomever she wants. When the woman physically accepts the Get,
she frees the man to marry whomever he wants. Yes, the gender roles are lopsided.
The Get process is performed by a specialist Divorce-Rabbi
(yep, totally a thing) – Most often the exes go together,
but they can go separately, if needed.
The ceremony includes a rabbi, scribe and two witnesses who make up the
Rabbinical Court – called a Beit Din. Each party says they’re there of their own
free will. The Scribe then writes the Get
and the witnesses sign it. The husband hands the wife the Get
and she hands it back to the Rabbi who will often rip it apart.
It’s a matter-of-fact ceremony that can potentially save some major religious
headaches down the road. After the ceremony,
it is customary to wish both people well. With the end of a marriage comes a new beginning
to what we hope is a happier future.

Michael Martin

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