A Case Of Dueling Dynasties Hits Home
08/06/13
Special To The Jewish Week

Stories of Jewish women trapped in dead-end marriages, held hostage by embittered husbands, always disturb me. Jewish law assigns the man the exclusive right to confer a divorce, and some men abuse that power, vengefully refusing to release unhappy spouses from the bonds of matrimony.

This time, though, the story strikes closer to home.

My cousin, Gital Dodelson — my beautiful, poised, second cousin who is entering her third year of law school in the evening program at Rutgers University, and who belongs to the strictly observant Orthodox community of Lakewood, N.J. — seemed destined for many happy years ahead in February 2009, when she married Avrohom Meir Weiss, the great-grandson of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the revered Talmudic authority of his generation.

Gital herself comes from a distinguished Jewish family. Her mother, Saki (related to me by marriage), is the cousin of Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood. In a matchmaker’s eyes, the couple must have seemed preordained.

I still have photos from that wedding day, an image of Gital, her then long hair flying as her younger sister, Shira, spins her in a vigorous twirl of celebration.

Alas, the marriage was short-lived. After nine months, Gital gave birth to a baby boy, but just one month later, at Gital’s initiative, in December 2009, the couple parted ways. Three years later, she is still waiting for her “get” — her document of Jewish divorce.

That wait could take decades. There are cases like that, and my cousins report that Avrohom Meir has indicated if his conditions aren’t satisfied, he’ll wait until Gital’s hair turns gray to give her the get. It seems he isn’t satisfied with the settlement handed down last summer by the New Jersey courts, granting him custody of his son every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon as well as every other weekend. Among his other demands, according to my cousins: He wants to share custody 50-50, and he wants $350,000 to cover his legal expenses.

Also this: He’s not interested in going to a bet din, or rabbinic court, to resolve these matters, and has ignored a siruv (a contempt-of-court ruling issued by a rabbinic court) after failing to heed repeated summonses by Beis Din of Mechon L’Hoyroa, a reputable rabbinic court in Monsey, N.Y.  He continues to ignore the siruv even after several of the most prominent rabbis in the country urged him in writing to go to a rabbinic court.

Gital sometimes wonders: “Avrohom Meir, why can’t we get on with this?”

I wondered, too. But when I called Avrohom Meir’s cell phone, the man who picked up, presumably him, said, “I prefer not to discuss the subject with you — thank you.”

Meeting with Gital and her father, Danny, recently, I was impressed by their quiet dignity. Gital, who is 25, seems to have inherited the family’s genes for a quick and gentle wit as well as an optimistic spirit, traits I’d always admired in my grandmother and her siblings. She and her father speak cautiously, almost kindly, of their adversary.

Gital says these years on her own haven’t been entirely bad. “I went to law school. I just bought a car.” She laughs at that last crazy thought. “I’m self-sufficient. I’m a good mom. I’d like to be able to move on with my life, but I get yanked back. Until he gives me a get, I’m stuck.”

Gital worries that her son will be harmed by the terrible tension between his parents. “It’s not something that can ever be explained. No child wants to think badly of his father or his mother.”

Avrohom Meir’s grandfather, Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, serves as rosh yeshiva of the Yeshiva of Staten Island, where Avrohom Meir is a student; his father, Yosaif Asher Weiss, works at the ArtScroll publishing company as editor of “A Daily Dose of Torah Series.” Their support of Avrohom Meir’s conduct seems incongruous given their professional roles.

In a community that adheres to Jewish law, “This man who has a siruv against him by a highly respected beit din should be an outcast,” says Rivka Haut, who has worked for three decades helping agunot, women like Gital, trapped in unhappy marriages. “Nobody should do business with him. He should not be counted in a minyan.”

She also says the alleged conduct of Avrohom Meir disrespects the memory of his great grandfather. Rabbi Feinstein, says Haut, was “a great champion of agunot. I believe he would not have stood for this.”

Elicia Brown’s column appears the second week of the month. Eliciabrown@hotmail.com.

Last Update:

02/06/2014 - 18:11

Comments

A report is that Gital has been given a get.

http://www.agunahandherget.com

Here is a link to information in which the Weiss allegations are answered point by point: http://www.setgitalfree.com/refuting-weiss-statements.html

Here is a link to a learned and well reasoned article, written by a rabbi, on the subject of Jewish divorce: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/14128#.Uo7j35t3uUm

Here is the link to the New York Post article: http://nypost.com/2013/11/04/orthodox-jewish-womans-plea-for-a-divorce/

To EPA18:
You evidently never learned hilchos lashon hora.
it may be about time

http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/weiss-family-statement-supporting.html

The “siruv” was issued based on the notion that Avrohom Meir “took his wife to ” without a heter. However, these are the facts: Avrohom Meir’s child was withheld from him in contravention of an explicit prior arrangement. Thisepisode was recorded, and there is even a letter from R’ Malkiel Kotler – a first cousin to theDodelsons – admitting that this occurred.After consulting with Morei Horaah and being issued a written, Avrohom Meir went tocourt to enforce his rights vis-à-vis his child, and sought joint legal custody. He had no choice but todo so; in the State of New Jersey this is the only way for a parent to protect his legal rights vis-à-vishis child. Reputable Batei Din fully recognize this as being true.The Dodelsons filed numerous counterclaims. Ultimately, they also filed a completely new suit for divorce. This new suit supplanted all previous filings, and rendered Gital Dodelson the plaintiff andthe only one who could possibly withdraw the complaint; Avrohom Meir was (and still is) only adefendant. Has anyone ever heard of a defendant being able to withdraw a complaint?

Long before Mechon L’Hoyroa issued their bogus “siruv,” Avrohom Meir made clear to them in writing, and with supporting documentation, that (a) he went to court with a
heter, (b) that he was no longer a plaintiff, and thus could not possibly withdraw the case from court; and (c) that he was fully prepared to go to a Beis Din of zabla.
He also provided them with the name of the Rav withwhom he had already signed a
shtar borerus. In fact, before Mechon L'hoyroa issued their “siruv,” they wrote Avrohom Meir a letter, attached herein, in which they themselves acknowledged that he was prepared to go before a Beis Din of zabla, and they requested only that he provide documentation that his wife was now the Plaintiff in the ongoing court matter. They had already been provided with that documentation.

Avrohom Meir was therefore quite surprised by the baseless letter, purporting to be a “siruv,” that he later received.Regrettably, the Dodelsons have shown this document to numerous Rabbanim, in order to persuade them to signa letter against Avrohom Meir.
None of those who signed ever called either Avrohom Meir, anyone fromhis family, or his Boreir to hear his side of the story.

Furthermore, DESPITE THE OBFUSCATION, THE ALLEGED “SIRUV” HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THE ISSUANCE OF A GET. NO BEIS DIN HAS EVER RULED OR WRITTEN THAT AVROHOM MEIR IS A, DESPITE WHAT THE DODELSONS AND THEIR ALLIES AT YESHIVA UNIVERSITY AND ORA WOULDHAVE YOU BELIEVE.
Right now, the court case [that’s right – the suit for divorce that is in , brought there by
Gital Dodelson]is in middle of a complex, prohibitively expensive trial that is draining our family of all our financial resources.Indeed, it is our belief that this is exactly what the Dodelsons and their supporters are trying to do; there isnothing at all Avrohom Meir or his family can do to stop these proceedings.

How do these events prevent Mr. Weiss from giving a "Get"?

According to Gital's article in the New York Post, the couple had conflicts before the marriage and during the marriage. It is reasonable and proper that the marriage was terminated before more time elapsed. Both are young. They have their lives before them. There may be a subsequent marriage for each. There may be more children. Far better if they resolve their differences now, and go about their lives. Carrying this conflict into the future makes no real sense.

Gital has written a thorough article on her experience with Mr. Meier in the New York Post. It is available on-line (http://www.nypost.com). Search on "orthodox". The article contains a link to review the extensive documentation this situation has generated.

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