As I walked in the door from a long day at work, I started receiving calls and emails from friends about something that my husband Jason had posted on Facebook. …I had no idea what they were talking about.
I logged in to Facebook to see a picture of our Ketubah and the following written by Jason:
“Fifteen years ago, my bride-to-be and I were considering texts to use for our Ketubah, Jewish marriage contract. We selected a text co-authored by Rabbi Joel Schwab, and reproduced in Anita Diamant’s The New Jewish Wedding, because it married (ha ha!) the traditional text with modern commitments that emphasized the values of equality and partnership that Elissa and I both held dear. The text, as you will notice, is very long – because it adds to the millennia-old formulation without subtracting anything.
“But despite its length, there’s something missing. Our Ketubah does not include the Lieberman clause, a modern addition to the Ketubah that has been the standard for decades in the Conservative movement. The clause protects a woman from becoming an agunah, or “chained woman” – civilly divorced but unable to remarry because of her husband’s refusal to give her a get, divorce decree. Why don’t we have this clause? I recall not wanting to include it because civil courts were increasingly refusing to enforce it, citing church and state issues. Lis remembers it differently: I said I didn’t want it because we didn’t need it. Because I would never refuse to give her a get if we ever got divorced.
“The very fact that Lis and I remember this in different ways highlights the error of our ways. Without putting it in writing, who knows what was said? With no written agreement, Lis has no assurance of my good intentions, and no protection if those good intentions suddenly evaporate. Of course we love each other, and of course I would never refuse to give her a get. But if I believe this so fervently, I have nothing to lose by putting it in writing.
“That is why I was honored to take part in an event on Sunday June 29 that allowed us to rectify this nearly fifteen-year wrong. It was a Post-Nup Party! Elissa and I joined with many other couples in signing a post-nuptial agreement that ratifies our commitment to and respect for each other. In the event of a divorce, we agree to have our divorce adjudicated by a Beit Din, religious court, and to follow its rulings, including the delivery of a get. The agreement also imposes stiff financial penalties on me for every day following our civil divorce that I do not deliver a get. It is signed, notarized, and fully enforceable in civil court, and it gives tangible meaning to my good intentions.
“I am so privileged to be married to someone who, in her tireless work for JCADA, the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, has done so much to help all victims of domestic abuse – including those victimized by the abhorrent crime of trying to control your ex-wife’s behavior by refusing to grant her a get.
“If you are a Jewish couple and you don’t already have a strong pre- or post-nup (and even if your Ketubah has the Lieberman clause), I strongly encourage you to visit the Beit Din of America’s website to learn more about it, and hopefully sign your own post-nup! This should become the standard that is expected of all Jewish couples as a pre-condition for marriage.”
I have a husband on a new mission…he is planning the next post-nup party! Thank you Chani and Steve Laufer for hosting the event and for giving us the opportunity to sign a post-nup and empowering us to make a difference!
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