Orthodox Jewish Woman Cannot Get a Divorce

Orthodox JewishOrthodox 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




3 Responses to "Orthodox Jewish Woman Cannot Get a Divorce"

  1. Rabbi Benyamin Yosef   August 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

    First, Meir Kin is allowed to take a second wife for many reasons. He divorced his first wife (civilly) and deposited a GET at a Beit Din. His requests for money is for the damages his wife caused which is reasonable. Ten years of civil divorce litigation, slander, accusation, and more would easily cost $500,000 or more. This is not extortion, but just paying for damage, See Talmud Baba Kama. For Meir Kin to want to choose his own Beth Din is also perfectly legitimate. A Nitva (respondent) has the right to choose his own Beth Din. Whether or not Meir Kin has a Heter Meah Rabbanim (permission from 100 Rabbis) does not really matter that much as the Takanah (ruling) of Rabbi Gershon ran out in 1976 because a Takanah is law for only a thousand years. To read more about this go to: www.rabbigedaliadovschwartz.com

  2. Mary   April 24, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Correction to the above: It was not a long time ago, as it occurred in 2001 and it was $500 a week, not a month. I bet he gave her a get pretty fast after that finding.

    “…In 2001, New York Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson was applauded by feminists for ordering an Orthodox Jewish man to pay his wife $500-a-week for life, because the man refused to grant her a get…”

  3. Mary   April 24, 2014 at 7:42 am

    It was my understanding a rabbanic court could hear the case and grant the get in certain circumstances, which this does seem to match. Otherwise, she should sue him in civil court for a monthly stipend, spousal support. There is precedent for that.

    One judge granted a wife whose (remarried) husband refused her a get to a monthly spousal support of $500 USD a month, until he would give her a get. This was a long time ago and $500 was a lot of money then.

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