(JTA) – In what is being called a “groundbreaking” sentence, a rabbinical court in Israel ordered the jailing of an American haredi Orthodox businessman for being behind the refusal of his son to grant his wife a religious divorce.
The Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court ordered the unnamed man jailed for 30 days over his son’s 11-year refusal to grant his wife a get, a Jewish religious divorce.
The American husband, also haredi Orthodox, was visiting Israel with his wife and two children in 2005 when the wife had a serious stroke that left her disabled, according to Israeli media reports. The husband abandoned his family in Israel and returned to the United States, where he went into hiding, supported by his parents and the haredi Orthodox community. The couple has been married for 19 years.
Two years ago, the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court ruled that the husband was obligated to give his disabled wife a get, which he has failed to do.
The husband’s parents recently visited Israel and were banned by the rabbinical court from leaving the country, which ordered the confiscation of their passports. They were summoned to testify in front of the rabbinical court, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“It is he who is the central and active figure behind the captive situation of his daughter-in-law, due to his son,” the court said in its 45-page ruling, according to the Post. “He can extend her captivity if he wishes, or shorten it and, therefore, appropriate and suitable sanctions must be issued against him.”
The 30-day jail sentence has been suspended for 10 days while the father, a major donor to the Jerusalem-based Erlau Hasidic court, appeals the verdict, Haaretz reported.
The sentence has been labeled “unprecedented” and “groundbreaking” by Israeli media.