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Thursday, January 23, 2014 

Conservative rabbi who backed aguna wife got threats from backers of her husband

The New Jersey Jewish News says that a Conservative rabbi who wrote in support of Gital Dodelson, the most outspoken of "chained" wives to speak up, was threatened by supporters of her husband:
A local Conservative rabbi has been receiving threatening phone calls after writing a letter in support of a Lakewood woman seeking a religious divorce from her husband.

Rabbi Robert Wolkoff of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick suspects the callers are “yeshiva bochers,” or religious students, who have taken the husband’s side in what has become a widely reported example of the plight of the aguna — that is, an observant woman whose husband refuses to issue a get, or divorce decree required under Jewish law.

Wolkoff did not know either spouse in the dispute when he wrote a letter to the husband’s Staten Island yeshiva, urging its leaders, including the husband’s grandfather, to “isolate” the husband until he agreed to issue the get.

“This is a disgrace and casts a shameful shadow on your Torah institution,” he wrote. “How can he be allowed to immerse himself in our sacred Torah while violating it so immorally?”

The letter appeared on a website supporting Gital Dodelson, the wife in the dispute. The next day, Nov. 27, Wolkoff said, he began receiving harassing, expletive-laced phone calls, many in the middle of the night, from “yeshiva bochers.”

The students “were going to block all my phones calls,” Wolkoff told NJJN. “I get voicemails that they were going to make me pay for getting involved with this. In some calls they [were] cursing at me and calling me names.”
Somebody sure did succeed in making Weiss's side look worse than need be. Here, a Conservative adherent does a good deed on behalf of a woman who's stuck in a situation involving a disgusting custom that should've been canned long ago, and what do these obscene callers do? Make the husband's side look worse. The rabbi should call the cops.
Wolkoff, who devoted his column in this month’s synagogue bulletin to the issue, said the congregant who had asked for the letter has since “apologized profusely” for unwittingly causing him so much trouble.

But, he said, “I don’t feel bad about it. I’m happy I did it.”
I'm glad. He did the right thing, but he should do even more by saying that women like Dodelson shouldn't have to put up with such offensive customs that only do a disfavor to God.

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