In July, 1981, a New Jersey Superior Court judge ordered Barry Minkin to appear before a Jewish rabbinic tribunal, called a Bet-Din, and secure and deliver to his former wife, Brenda, a religious divorce (Get).1 New York’s highest court entered a similar order in 1983 against Boaz Avitzur, compelling him to appear before the tribunal so that it could adjudicate his wife’s request for a Get which, according to Jewish law, can only be obtained by the husband.2 Both decisions were grounded on contract where the civilly divorced Wife sought to specifically enforce the Ketubah, a religious marriage contract, signed by the parties Immediately before their marriage. The civilly divorced wives in both cases sought specific enforcement of the Ketubah since without a Get they were in a state of religious limbo where they were not considered married, but could not remarry according to religious law.

The New York State Legislature has sought to prevent the problem faced by Brenda Minkin and Susan Avitzur by enacting a statute, signed by Governor Cuomo in August 1983, which provides that a plaintiff seeking a divorce who was married in a religious ceremony must certify that he has taken all steps solely within his power to remove religious barriers to the spouse’s remarriage.3 A similar bill has been introduced in New Jersey.

Read the entire article: 1983-NJFL 145