Rabbi Riskin Cancels Talk At Agunah Conference

The Jerusalem Post reports:

… “Being singled out as the only Orthodox rabbi to speak at the conference would risk having my suggested solutions to the agunot problem disqualified by the rabbinic establishment,” said Riskin.

Agunot, literally “chained,” are women that have separated from their husbands but cannot remarry according to Jewish law because their recalcitrant husbands refuse to grant a writ of divorce known as a get.

“I feel so strongly about the aguna cause that I would speak anywhere. And I often speak at the Shechter Institute or at other Conservative venues. “But on the issue of halachic solutions to agunot I am afraid that appearing in a Conservative context would be counterproductive.

“I am lobbying for solutions to the agunot problem that are within the boundaries of Orthodox Halacha,” explained Riskin, “while the Conservative Movement has positioned itself outside Halacha.”

Riskin recently published A Jewish Woman’s Right to Divorce: A Halakhic History and a Solution for the Agunah, in which he argues for prenuptial agreements and suggests using retroactive annulment of marriages hafka’at nisu’in in special cases.

Rabbi David Golinkin, president of the Schechter Institute, said in response to Riskin’s cancellation that, while he had great respect for Riskin’s work both in Israel and in the Diaspora, Riskin’s decision was “unfortunate.” “Just yesterday morning the rabbi’s secretary said he would be coming,” said Golinkin.

Golinkin said that the Van Leer Institute was purposely chosen to serve as a neutral location so that Orthodox rabbis could participate. Schechter also advertised in the media mentioning Riskin as a participant.

“Some rabbis, and I don’t mean Rabbi Riskin, are more afraid of the haredim than of making certain to serve God and the Jewish people,” Golinkin said, adding that two senior rabbis who serve as rabbinic judges turned down an invitation to the conference. …

Understandable? Yes. But sad.

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7 Comments

Filed under Hessed, Jewish Leadership, Modern Orthodoxy

7 responses to “Rabbi Riskin Cancels Talk At Agunah Conference

  1. Neo-Conservaguy

    Even Rabbi Golinkin, for whom I have great respect and acknowledge his tremendous dedication to Judaism, has pushed the halachic envelope to the breaking point on some matters such as full egalitarianism. As such, Conservative/Masorti has chosen to position themselves such that claims of non-halachic rabbinic decisions stick all too easily sometimes – even when some of those decisions are “on the money” as far as working within the framework of halacha.

    If they had stuck with a smaller number of advancements for a longer period of time – for example, women leining and receiving allioth but not leading Shacharith/Mincha/etc. – they would be better positioned to defend against the arrows gleefully fired by various Orthodox groups. Instead, the Masorti/Conservative commitment to resolving the agunoth problem is tainted (in some views) by their positions on other issues. Sad, but true.

  2. Modern Jew

    I don’t understand the Augnot problem-that is I do understand the haredi position on divorce but I don’t understand why the chained so women have a problem.

    Simply if they don’t like the haredi gadols acting in this midevil nonsensical way why don’t they just stop being haredi? Its like when i see Catholics complainting about things the Pope says-If you don’t like the Pope and you are a Christian-guess what you can be a Protetant. If you want to be a Jew and don’t recognize the rulings of the haredi gadols-guess what you can be a Jew just like me and accept or reject whatever mitzvot you choose-just don’t ask the gadol’s to change their view-Its like being a “cafeteria Haredi”.

  3. Yochanan Lavie

    Neo: That’s the problem. Orthodoxy is too rigid, and Conservativism is too fluid.

    MJ: Your point is well taken. But if you truly believe that either Halachic Judaism or Catholicism (whatever the case may be) is the true path, you are not going to settle for Brand X.

  4. C-Girl

    But the inference hanging in the air is that Rabbi Riskin had planned to attend, but somehow, at the 11th hour, got cold feet. Something about how he “would risk having [his] suggested solutions to the agunot problem disqualified by the rabbinic establishment”.

    Anyone else musing about the whereabouts of a certain severed water buffalo head?…

  5. Unsolvable

    The so-called “Agunah Problem” cannot be ‘solved’. Where husbands go missing or are mentally incapacitated r’l, there is not a Bais Din in the world that can ‘free’ the unfortunate wife.

    What can be done, and has been for generations, is that in some individual cases where it is merely recalcitrance by the husband, there are options. But to seek an impossible ‘solution of the aguna problem’ is pie in the sky.

  6. Isa

    There is one way for an Agunah to ‘marry’ and have children.
    Marry a non Jew and the children are NOT Momzer.
    Pick someone who is going thru the conversion process and marry him but let him not convert officially.
    Related subject:
    Couple wants children-husband has no viable sperm. Donor MUST NOT be Jewish.

  7. Anonymous

    An agunah’s children from anyone other than the husband who refuses her a get will be mamzerim. A female mamzer’s children will all be mamzerim. If a male mamzer marries a convert his children will take on the status of his wife and be ‘full’ Jews.

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