A Miserable Marriage Made Worse by Rabbinic Court That Ended It

September 7, 2015 - accent chair

I usually became a wusband, 36 years of matrimony to a Jewess left behind. L. and we called it quits after unconstrained struggles. This was a matrimony finished in hell, and canceled in a place equally miserable — a beit din, a Jewish eremite court.

Though she teaches during a Modern Orthodox day school, L. is by no means observant, most less
frum
. Hope springs eternal, though: She pronounced she competence like to be married again, and a associate competence good be a Jew. Thus she asked me for a get
, a normal rabbinically approved unwinding of a eremite Jewish matrimony such as ours, where a ketubah
, a contract, specifies that we compensate her 200 pieces of china if we “dispose” of her.

Both the
ketubah
and a get
are thousands of years old, memorialized in a Babylonian Talmud as good as in novel from progressing times. Written in Aramaic, a forms of these papers are biased (need we mention whose side?) and probably invariable. Being that things between L. and me seemed amicable, and that as distant as we knew no divorce lawyers were beating their chops over a mutual funds, we now concluded to her request, supposing she collect out a venue and concluded to separate a cost.

Turns out there is usually one
beit din
in Manhattan, convened during a Rabbinical Council of America’s flat tiny bureau during 305 Seventh Avenue, in a heart of a late-lamented fur district. With dual martinis and a beef quesadilla during Mustang Harry’s fueling me for a record in court, a ghosts of schleppers with handcarts brimful with pelts and communist-leaning strikers marching down Seventh Avenue in a early 1930s whirled in my brain.

A hideous museum of a absurd played out as we entered a room, a holy of holies. The dramatis personae were 5 in all: dual witnesses and a scribe, all Hasidic rabbis, who trooped in one hour late and sat behind a prolonged table. L. and we sat during dual adjoining tables, as in any polite court. Heavy volumes of a Talmud and other eremite books decorated a ominous-looking shelves behind a men. Each of a group was clad in a prolonged black
kapote
(frock coat) and a white shirt, and sported long, twisted earlocks and an elegantly embellished white-haired brave that finished Mister Natural demeanour clean-shaven. we nodded as they entered talking in Yiddish, and offering a brusque “a gitn tug” to them in their possess Galitzianer Yiddish accent. we pronounce a denunciation fluently, yet we was ignored. Apparently, to these group we was a shtik treyf
, some-more polluted than a impurest goy, since we am a Jew who is nonobservant, an apikoyres
, so a blasphemer and underneath contempt. Though smooth in their tongue, we am not heymish
. we took no offense: we wasn’t during a beit din
to shmooze in mame-loshn.

L. and we sat down, and a uncover began.

The extenuation of a
get
is a scripted process. What could be some-more wise for a finish of a matrimony that had been staged from a startˇˇ? My life has been one trope after another. The 15th-century Flemish master Quentin Metsys’s “The Moneylender and His Wife” had hung above L. and my marital bed for years, a trompe l’oeil and studiolo prefigurement of a integrate like us definitely scary.

I had recently rented a opening dress from a Theater Development Fund’s collection during a Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. My mother knew we had to lapse it, and motionless to piggyback my doing so with a concession of aged costumes from a now-grown-up kids’ closets from a cleaned-out apartment. we stopped by and picked adult a hulk bag from a former doorman. we had spotless out my possess closet weeks before when I’d changed to my new unit on Morningside Heights, and we had left one object on a tip shelf. The slim card box reason my wife’s white marriage dress, purchased indiscriminate during what was famous in 1978 as a Bridal Building during 1385 Broadway. Floor after bureau building of
operaria
s had stitched divided underneath several owners’ organisation in a behind of any floor, a fronts of that were clinging to wise bedrooms and tiny offices. Squeals of fear had greeted us as my fiancée and we entered a building where a squeeze was made: “Get out
of here, stupid man!” called legions of Hispanic seamstresses. “Don’t we know a father is never
ostensible to see his bride in her dress compartment a marriage day? OUT!!!
” we smiled and left my destiny mother there alone, me watchful on a path amid a Garment Center racket. That day a dress was gorgeous, and so was she, yet now a doorman handed me a unhappy box along with a dress bag. Together as one, they went to TDF, a legitimate place for nonetheless another dress we’d no longer need or want.

The
get
is a one-act play. In a opening scene, dual slim cosmetic ring-bound folders lay on a dual tables. The clerk called a courtesy to page one, and sensitive us that we’d any be questioned by a row in English, per a spiral-bound simpleton cards. The categorical bearing of a Q-and-A was possibly anyone had forced or bribed or connived possibly celebration in doubt to be in a room, and a change was an hearing of a Jewishness of any party. We both upheld with drifting colors, and a clerk motioned me to proceed a bench.

Ceremonial rabbinic function during other life events is in ubiquitous respectful, regardless of a grade of Orthodoxy of those in attendance. Jewish weddings are distinguished in public, as are funerals and masculine circumcisions: Technically speaking, all are welcome. Not so with the
beit din
, a justice of law. The extenuation of a get
is a private matter, as good it should be. But distinct sealed polite justice record in America, here a standards of legal culture and honour towards a parties are appalling.

Twenty mins elapsed as we sat there and went by a motions. Then it came time to write out a letter. Per tradition, a father is to move essay implements and ink to a courtroom, yet a handy-dandy “loan” of same is organised during a bench. we was educated to ask to “borrow” a materials from a scribe, who handed them to me and took them behind immediately when we was done. While his co-worker tapped divided on an Aramaic keyboard-enabled MacBook Air, a clerk delicately non-stop a ink bottle, poured a inexhaustible tiny pool into an inkwell, widespread out a square of paper, constructed a needle coop and began scratching away.

We perceived no serve instructions. My shortly to be ex-wife and we sat during a tables, staring true ahead.

I’d already finished it transparent that we supposed Yiddish ideally well. we was paid no mind. For 15 mins a clerk scribed, and for 15 mins he and his dual buddies yakked away, slanderous in Yiddish about this and that. A honest and unhappy arise morphed into an insult to decency. My mother and we were
treyf
, and these group due us nothing, not a fragment of honour or care. We competence as good have been invisible. we felt like dirt.

With the
get
minute completed, we were summoned adult front, and yet reason a clerk afterwards took a pleasing hand-illuminated ketubah
that my mother had brought along in a card scroll, unrolled it, and yet a word proceeded to cut off a signatures from it with an X-Acto knife. He afterwards took a get
minute and folded it in three, creation a slot during one corner and tucking a other finish into it like a crepe.

“Face any other and uncover us your hands, palms ceiling so that we can see that we are not wearing rings,” we were instructed. “Face your father and crater your palms together,” my mother was systematic in a unrelenting tone, as if she were a child being punished. “Take a minute and place it in her hands,” we was told. In an act maybe somewhat reduction terrible than shoveling mud onto my father’s coffin during his wake 25 years ago had been, we did as we was told, examination as my mother supposed a proffered rejection, tears streaming down her face. Some things will bake in your memory. That wake still does. This one always will.

“Now place a minute in your slot to weigh your acceptance of it and travel toward a door,” a associate destined my wife. In a initial reason of gentility, he let her know it was afterwards fine to travel behind to a front; he had some-more to say.

With a mystic act accomplished, a rest was information. We were strictly divorced in a eyes of God. Starting again during me, a man, droning, continued. “You are giveaway to marry right away, even this afternoon, if we wish,” we was told. ‘Right,’ we suspicion to myself, “just what we indispensable to know.” we theory it happens.

For a woman, though, things are different. “You contingency wait 92 days to remarry, and might never marry a member of the
kohanim
, a ancient category of priests.” It’s mostly about purity, yet maybe also about pregnancy. L. was 65 years old; she couldn’t be pregnant. Better protected than sorry, though: The subsequent propitious associate needs his parent to be his own. Ninety-two days should do a trick. Three cycles.

But some-more than that, we suspect is a fear of uncleanliness. Religious Jews are insane frightened of menstrual blood. An Orthodox male is taboo from touching any partial of his wife’s physique during her period. How poetic are thy tents, O Jacob, thy home places, O Israel. A divorcée’s subsequent father is entitled to triple insurance when he has sex with her for a initial time. And a clergyman category gets usually vestal virgins. Divorcées, as Orthodox as they come, are still not good adequate for a priest. Previously married
treyf
. Rejects. Used merchandise. What a good tradition. Where does one turn?

Turn and spin we did, as a 3 fellows stepped out from behind their list and headed for a door. With a brusque “good luck,” they slipped out a bureau entrance door. Not a bit of
rakhmones
, forgiveness for a distressed. We were left there, L. and I, with usually any other to reason onto. “Pay your check and don’t let a shade doorway strike we in a ass” was a message. Six hundred clams later, we were one and done.

There will be no subsequent time, even if we kick Tommy Manville’s record for marriages. Deep down inside me we wish there would be one, though. These fellows are a flaw to amiability and to their religion. The universe should know. In a universe to come, I’m nearing with a webcam and a wire.

Benjamin Feldman has lived and worked in New York City for a past 46 years. His essays and book reviews have seemed online and in imitation in CUNY’s Gotham History Blotter, The New Partisan Review, Columbia County History , Heritage, Ducts Literary Magazine, Ir and on his blog, The New York Wanderer, during www.newyorkwanderer.com. He is a chair emeritus of a house of The National Yiddish Theatre—Folksbiene, and now chairs a house of a New Yiddish Repertory Theater.

source ⦿ http://forward.com/culture/320456/a-divorce-made-in-rabbinic-hell/

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