the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

A few Yiddish terms:
The Yiddish word for "torture" is "paynikung."
A divorced woman is "de grushe."
A divorced man is "der goyresh."
An "agunah" is a woman whose marriage is functionally over, but whose husband cannot or refuses to give her a "get" unconditionally and in a timely fashion.  According to Rabbi Eliahu Maimon, an aguna/agunah is also any woman whose husband does not show up for a hearing once a request for a get has been made by the wife.
A "mesadderei gittin" is a Rabbi grained to write and deliver a get.

The late Leo Rosten shared this folk saying:


The Talmud says that the "TEMPLE ALTAR WEEPS" when a divorce occurs.  And, divorce is one of the 613 mitzvahs in the Torah.  #77  To divorce by a formal written document (Deut. 24:1) This means that Judaism recognizes the need for divorce.

Perhaps you've heard this joke:

A couple are nearing their 50th Anniversary ("der yortog").
The husband calls his son who resides in a distant city, and tells him that they're getting a divorce ("get").
"Don't do that!" shouts the son."Do nothing till I get there."
The son then calls his "shvester" (sister), in another city.
She calls her father..."Don't get a divorce!" she cries."Do nothing until I get there."
The father hangs up the "telefon" and says to mother, "Well, they didn't come for Pesach and they did't come for Rosh Hashana, and they didn't come for Hanukkah, but I got them to come for our 50th Anniversary."

There's very little humor in "der get" (divorce).  In one episode of "The Sopranos" ("Denial, Anger,Acceptance"), Tony is hired for the purpose of convincing a stubborn Orthodox Jewish man to give a "get" to his wife.

And in his book, "The Shame Borne in Silence," Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twersky posits that get-refusing is the climax of abusive behavior that happened during the course of the marriage.

Here are some unpleasant statistics:

Facebook is cited in 1 out of every 5 divorces in the U. S., according to the Loyola University Health System.  And, Facebook is the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence with 66% citing it as a primary source.
       (Source:  American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers)

Now, F-a-s-t  f-o-r-w-a-r-d to 2013.  The newspapers report that two rabbis and eight other men were arrested in an FBI sting carried out in New Jersey and New York of plotting to kidnap and torture a man to force him to grant a religious divorce.

The Associated Press said that Rabbi Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark charged Jewish women and their families thousands of dollars to obtain "gets" from recalcitrant husbands.  In the late 1990s, Epstein had been accused of participating in the kidnapping of another rabbi who had refused to grant his wife a get.

According to "di tayne" (the complaint), Epstein spoke about forcing compliance through "tough guys" who used electric "beheymes" (cattle) prods and even placed "plastik" bags over the heads of husbands.  The FBI said the price was more than $50,000--sometimes $100,000.   A federal prosecutor says the ring was responsible for as many as 20 kidnappings over the years.

In Jewish law, any coercion or torture involved in obtaining a get is considered to invalidate the document.

Perhaps it's time to join ORA--a not-for-profit Organization for the Resolution of Agunot.  ORA tries to pressure men into giving gets. They organize protests outside of the husband's place of work or "voynort" (residence) and they try and encourage shuls to not count them in a minyan or call them up to the Torah.  "Zolst nit visn fun azelkhe tsores."  (May you not know of such troubles.)


Search for Stories Beginning with the Letter
N O P Q R S T U V W   Y Z
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

Yiddish Stuff
Jewish Humor
Schmooze News
More Majorie Wolfe
Jewish Stories
All Things Jewish
Jewish Communities of the World
Site Designed and Maintained by
Haruth Communications