YU Agunah Advocacy Club Joins ORA in Rally Against Get-Refuser
On December 10, the YU Agunah Advocacy Club (AAC) joined the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA) in a rally against Chaim Hoffman, a man who has refused to give his wife a get, a Jewish bill of divorce, for over 12 years.
The rally took place in the Brooklyn neighborhood where Hoffman is currently living. Despite the cold weather, approximately 20 people attended, around half of which were Yeshiva University students, according to Yeshiva College Junior Doniel Weinreich, who attended the rally. Attendees held signs and chanted messages such as “Chaim Hoffman, Stop the Abuse!” in order to pressure him to give a get, Weinreich stated.
According to ORA’s website, Chaim and Debi Hoffman married in 1997 and had two children before the two separated in October 2005. He has refused to give her a get, which has prevented Debi from remarrying according to Orthodox Jewish law and has made her an agunah, a term referring to a “chained woman” who cannot leave her marriage. In 2014, the Israeli Rabbinate issued a decision requiring Chaim to give a get immediately, but he has not complied with the ruling.
The rally was the Agunah Advocacy Club’s first event of the semester. Stern College for Women Junior Liat Clark, the president of the club, described that the AAC “works to educate the YU campus about the plight of agunot in our community and the ways in which we as college students can advocate for current agunot as well as prevent the further creation of agunot, namely through the signing of the Halachic Prenuptial agreement. We work closely with ORA to create opportunities for students to educate and be educated, and to get involved.” She noted that the club’s past events included a panel on the “agunah crisis” that took place on the Wilf campus in Spring 2017 and other events that have been run in conjunction with the YU Counseling Center about abusive relationships.
The rally took place by a busy intersection near where Hoffman lives and attracted the curiosity of many local residents. Shoshi Trombka, a Stern College for Women Junior, explained that a woman who was previously unaware of the rally joined the group after hearing the crowd from her window and provided valuable information to ORA members regarding Hoffman and his whereabouts as a result.
Stern College for Women Junior Michal Laub stated that, “seeing that people feel strongly enough to rally, in conjunction with the importance of the rally's content, will hopefully motivate Jewish communities...[to pressure] men like Chaim Hoffman to do the right thing and give their wives a get.” “Many additional students, although unable to attend the rally, did not hesitate to vocalize their support for ORA and their hopes that Debi would be given her get soon,” added Stern College for Women Junior Chasya Klafter.
RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter encouraged people to attend the rally in a video posted to the AAC’s Facebook page on December 7. He stated that, “we should all follow the encouragement of the Rabanut and participate in the rally. Whoever has a few hours free, it's a big mitzvah [to attend].”