Orthodox Jewish woman Lonna Kin cannot get a divorce from her husband although he is already remarried. Ms. Kin has been legally divorced for seven years under California law, however according to Jewish law she is still married.
Mr. Meir Kin remarried his second wife in Las Vegas on March 20, 2014 although based on Jewish law he is still married to his first wife Ms. Kin. In Jewish Orthodox religion there is a form called a “get”, a document in which the husband gives to the wife in the event of divorce. This document is necessary in order for the wedding to be considered dissolved. The couple married in 2000 and although they have been separated for seven years without the proper document Ms. Kin is considered a “chained wife” or in Hebrew, agunah. Literally translated Ms. Kin is tied to Mr. Kin until he grants her a get, as long as he holds out, Ms. Kin is forbidden to remarry.
Jewish men are also forbidden to have multiple wives, however Mr. Kin depended on a Jewish loophole which states if the man receives 100 Rabbi signatures he is able to get a second wife without the required get document. Mr. Kin reportedly acquired the necessary signatures and therefore was able to marry again, however his first wife an Orthodox Jewish woman can’t get a divorce affording her the same luxury.
Mr. Kin is holding out on the document in order to use it as a bargaining tool. Mr. Kin wants his wife to grant him sole custody of their son, since an agreement between the spouses could not be reached they were required to take their case in front of three Rabbi’s called a Beit din. However, Mr. Kin only wants one religious court in Monsey to hear their case, which has been widely denounced by rabbinical authorities both in the United States and Israel. Because of this controversy several Rabbis refuse to recognize the documents signed by this court, however Mr. Kin will not budge as he stated this particular court is the court that granted him the right to remarry.
Activists have taken particular interest in this case as it signifies a potential crisis in the Orthodox Jewish religion. Currently hundreds of women are tied to their first husbands for years after the civil divorce has been finalized, because the husband did not fulfill the necessary paperwork needed for the woman to be considered divorced. Unfortunately in Jewish law only the man has the authority to request a get.
At his Las Vegas wedding Mr. Kin and his second wife were met with a crowd of protestors familiar with his case, holding up signs calling him a bigamist and a “get-refuser”. One Rabbi drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to participate in the protest claiming the wedding as a violation of Jewish law and doubting the validity of the 100 Rabbi signatures Mr. Kin supposedly received. Ms. Kin has been fighting for her rights for seven years now eager to move on with her life and her case is not unique. Orthodox activists with the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot have protested similar cases trying to shame men into granting the get for their wives.
Although Mr. Kin was successful at remarriage a new cause has started headed by Mrs. Kin and backed by several Rabbis to have Mr. Kin exiled from the local Jewish community. In the meantime Ms. Kin is still a chained woman under the Orthodox Jewish law who can’t get a divorce.
By Debra Pittman
The New York Times