Some good news: Gital Dodelson is finally officially divorced, according to civil law and an Orthodox rabbinic court. The 25-year-old woman—who has been fighting to obtain a get from her husband, Avrohom Meir Weiss, for three years—announced the news on Wednesday via her publicist, Shira Dicker.
Dodelson’s story first came to our attention via this impassioned piece in the New York Post in November 2013, in which she detailed Weiss’ controlling behavior and emotional abuse:
On my last mission to ask for a get, a month ago, Avrohom said, “I can’t give you a get — how else would I control you?” I think that’s the key to it all. He insists the marriage isn’t over until he says it’s over.
We’ve tried everything — the informal route, negotiations. I’ve asked him myself, my parents have asked his, our camp tries to reason with his camp, but, counting down from the time when he sued for custody in March 2010 and I first asked him for a get, we’ve been shut down for 3¹/₂ years. One proposal his side put forward in January was for me to agree to override the court decision on custody of Aryeh and hand over a payment of $350,000. There’s no way I can afford that.
She also appeared on This American Life a few weeks ago in Mark Oppenheimer’s excellent segment on agunot (the Hebrew term for women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce—literally, “chained women”). According to Dodelson, Weiss was constantly changing his demands for the condition of the get. At one point he insisted that she agree to tell their four-year-old son (when he was older) that the failure of the marriage was her fault. Weiss’ family refused to comment on the case to Oppenheimer; his lawyer refuted Dodelson’s claims.
It’s a happy ending (or at least a bittersweet one) for Dodelson—but not so for scores of Jewish women all over the world stuck in marital limbo. Fortunately, there are advocacy groups working hard to support them and bring about change. (Over at Tablet, Batya Ungar-Sargon has a fantastic profile of Susan Weiss, the American-born lawyer pushing Israel’s rabbinate to change the way it handles divorce proceedings. Also related: this piece about a real-life ‘Get Detective’ who specializes in tracking down recalcitrant Jewish husbands who have abandoned their wives. Dark but compelling reading.)
Dodelson’s mother, Saki Dodelson, has vowed to start an organization to help other agunot. Says Dicker, “The family isn’t just skipping into the sunset. There’s a real sense of responsibility here.”
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