An Orthodox Jewish woman in Lakewood, N.J., is going public with the story of how her husband refuses to grant her the divorce that she desires after the couple split up more than three years ago, giving a glimpse into the world of domestic life for devoutly religious Jews.
Though the couple’s divorce is finalized in the U.S. courts, under Jewish law they remain married because it is solely up to the man in a marriage to grant his wife a “get,” or release from the marriage vows. Until that happens, Gital Dodelson’s personal life is in limbo.
Dodelson (pictured), now 25, married Avrohom Meir Weiss in 2009. Both come from prominent Jewish families in the area. Weiss is the great-grandson of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a revered Talmudic scholar. Dodelson is the cousin of a top rabbi in Lakewood.
Though they had a child right away, the marriage didn’t work out, mainly because according to Dodelson, her husband was overly domineering, asserting total control of the family’s finances despite refusing to hold a job. Like many devoutly religious Orthodox Jewish men, he spent his days studying the Torah — the Jewish holy text — rather than holding a job.
But money issues weren’t the extent of it. Just three days into their marriage, on the couple’s first shabbat together, Weiss shunned his wife because she attempted to follow her family’s traditions regarding the Friday evening candle-lighting ceremony — traditions which Weiss said contradicted his own.
“When I couldn’t stand the hostility anymore, I said, ‘You can’t just ignore me — this isn’t how a relationship works,’” Dodelson writes in an essay published by the New York Post. “The only response he could muster was: ‘When I don’t get my way, I don’t know how to function.’”
Their relationship began with an arranged date. By tradition, such dates take place in public and the couple do nothing but talk. Dodelson wrote in her Post piece that she wasn’t interested in Weiss, but his parents pressured her into following through with the relationship.
The marriage turned sour after just three days, with the candle-lighting incident.
Weiss is reportedly dissatisfied with a court settlement in the divorce. Until he gives his ex-wife a get, she is prevented not only from remarrying, but from dating at all.
A website, setgitalfree.com, has been created to help Dodelson’s cause.
Sources: New York Post, Jewish Week, SetGitalFree.com