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Agunah: (lit. anchored woman”); a woman whose husband has disappeared and it is not known with certainty whether he is dead or alive; she is thus forbidden to marry unless a) the husband is located and grants her a legal divorce, or b) careful investigation by rabbinical authorities uncovers admissible evidence of his death
The "Agunah Problem" -- a historical overview, as well as its modern-day manifestations, repercussions and attempted solutions.
When remains of missing people are never recovered
Widows and Widowers of 9-11
Law professor and rabbi Michael J. Broyde addresses the legal problem of determining the status of people who went missing in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and whose remains were never recovered. In particular, Broyde examines the Talmudic approach to the qu...
I know that Jewish law requires one to obtain either confirmation of death or a Jewish certificate of divorce before remarrying. What happened to the women and men who, in many cases, did not know whether or not their husband or wife was in the building a...
"Back in Morocco my husband was a taxi driver. Ten days after our marriage he traveled from one city to the next and I never heard from him again. They say he died in a crash, however, they cannot locate his body, only the wrecked car."
Excerpt of a letter from the Previous Rebbe, sent from Riga to the shochet Reb Moshe Charitonov in Cherson. It is dated 2 Av 5688 [July 19, 1928], and was published in Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. 2, No. 394.…My saintly paternal grandmother the ...
The answer was fast in coming. Less than an hour later the Rebbes secretary stood facing her with good news. "The Rebbe says that you should travel to Warsaw." She was overjoyed! But her smile faded as she realized that there was no more to the message. "...
It did not take long until they had dragged me before the town rabbi, demanding that I divorce my “wife.”
“Rebbe,” she sobbed, “you are my last hope! My husband left me years ago, and I desperately want to move on with my life. Tell me, O tell me. Where shall I turn?”
The historically evolving contours of an ongoing halachic problem
Chained Jewish Women in the 19th Century and Today
In the 19th century the problem of "agunot" was widely dealt with in rabbinic literature, and often surfaced in the popular press. In the 21st century the same problems exist but new technologies and ease of communication are changing things both for bett...
The Contemporary Use of Genetics in Jewish Law
A discussion regarding DNA testing in Rabbinical courts, including identifying someone as deceased, paternity testing, and proof of Jewish identity.
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