Episode 83: Fighting for Israel's "Chained Women"

In Israel, marriage and divorce are governed by Jewish law and controlled by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinical courts. If a Jewish woman wants a divorce, she has to get permission from her husband, in the form of a document called a get—and he can refuse. That's exactly what happens to about 1 in 5 Jewish women in Israel who want a divorce, according to a recent survey. That figure doesn't even include women who agree to things that are against their best interests because of the threat of get refusal, including one woman we'll hear from in this episode.

We'll also hear from Kylie Eisman-Lifschitz, board chair of Mavoi Satum, about how rabbinical control over the divorce process in Israel harms Jewish women, and about how organizations like Mavoi Satum are taking on the problem, by working with women one-on-one, but also by fighting for systemic change. 

Please note that this episode contains descriptions of violence.

Released November 8, 2022
  • Mavoi Satum and women’s rights protesters outside the Jerusalem Rabbinical Courts in March 2021. Courtesy of Mavoi Satum. 

  • Orit Lahav, director of Mavoi Satum, speaking on behalf of agunot at the Knesset on International Women’s Day in March 2022. Courtesy of Mavoi Satum. 

  • Mavoi Satum board chair Kylie Eisman-Lifschitz. Courtesy of Mavoi Satum. 

  • Woman who received a get after two years, with the help of Mavoi Satum, standing outside the rabbinical court in October 2022. Courtesy of Mavoi Satum. 

  • Liana Hazan being interviewed on an Israeli news program in May 2021, after receiving a get from the man who had tried to murder her nearly two years earlier. Courtesy of Mavoi Satum. 

  • Staff from the Center for Women's Justice with Tzvia Gorodetsky, Israel's longest-standing agunah, following her return to freedom via halakhic annulment ceremony performed by the private rabbinic court CWJ established, under the rabbinic leadership of Rabbi Daniel Sperber. Courtesy of Rachel Stomel. 

  • Center for Women's Justice attorneys at the Supreme Court with a client, a teen who has been stripped of civil rights by the Israeli government as a result of circumstances of her mother's divorce. Courtesy of Rachel Stomel.

  • Protesters holding sign that says "Israeli women divide the right to divorce"
  • Orit Lahav, Director of Mavoi Satum giving speech to Knesset
  • Kylie Eisman-Lifschitz Headshot
  • Woman with face blurred holding balloon next to another woman
  • Woman being interviewed on Israeli news program
  • Woman seated at a table smiling at woman standing up, rabbi seen from the back.
  • Center for Women's Justice Attorneys with Client at Supreme Court


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Episode 83: Fighting for Israel's "Chained Women"." (Viewed on May 23, 2024) <http://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk/episode-83-fighting-israels-chained-women>.