Unwilling to Allow His Wife a Divorce, He Marries Another

The “get” in the Jewish faith…this is similar to a Catholic “annulment”?

Unwilling to Allow His Wife a Divorce, He Marries Another
New York Times
MARCH 21, 2014

LAS VEGAS — The wedding was a modest affair, held in a reception hall overlooking an artificial lake tucked behind a suburban strip. But just minutes after it ended, the bride and groom hurriedly scurried past dozens of protesters here who were chanting “Bigamist!” and “Shame on you!”

One of the wedding guests on Thursday evening glared at the demonstrators, repeatedly hissing: “Mazel tov. Mazel tov. Mazel tov.” The bride, in a lace and sequin floor-length gown, grasped the hand of her husband and looked at the crowd in silence.

Meir Kin, the new husband, has been divorced for more than seven years, under California’s civil law. But he has refused to give his previous wife the document known as a “get,” as required by Orthodox Jewish law to end a marriage. In the eyes of religious authorities, the woman he married in 2000 is what is called an agunah — Hebrew for chained wife. Without the get, the woman, Lonna Kin, is forbidden under Jewish law to remarry.

Jewish law prohibits men from taking multiple wives. But Mr. Kin, according to several rabbis here, apparently relied on a legal loophole, which says that if a man can get the special permission of 100 rabbis to take a second wife, he is able to do so…



I would say not, simply because in this case, the ex-husband (legally anyway) is refusing to allow this woman the “get” whereas in Catholicism, I believe either of the spouses may file for annulment. If this woman was Catholic, she could file separately for an annulment, and her ex-husband would not be able to have her symbolically “chained” (in the words of the article) to him.

Yes, it is similar.

This describes it. Looks like only the husband may initiate divorce proceedings.

A get is a divorce under halacha, or Jewish law. The word can also refer to the document that grants the get, though its technical name is sefer k’ritot, or scroll of severance. The sefer k’ritot is a no-fault document, not citing any specific reasons for the divorce, though a sofer or scribe writes it out specifically for the couple involved.

A literal interpretation of the law states clearly that only a man may initiate divorce proceedings. Some Orthodox authorities still hold strictly to this law but Conservative, Reform, and even many Orthodox authorities agree that although the Talmud says it is the husband who must have the sefer k’ritot written, the wife may begin the process of the get by convening a beit din (rabbinical court).

Jewish law allows for divorce under many circumstances, including what civil law calls “irreconcilable differences.” Because Jewish law values marriage so highly, it looks unkindly on any abuse of the marital bond by either partner.

Not saying it would be easy, or that most would do this. But I am hard headed sometimes, and in this case, I would have to leave my Church. If I was a Jewish woman in this situation I think I head to the nearest Catholic Church and call it good.

This is just wrong and two faced of the Jewish Church if you ask me. Simply wrong.

No. It is not.

A decree of nullity and a Jewish “get” are in no way similar at all.

No. They are not similar.

No way at all?

Well, without either, the religious person can’t be remarried.

Both are needed in addition to a civil divorce.

Because Jewish law values marriage so highly, it looks unkindly on any abuse of the marital bond by either partner.

Again, sounding very similar to Catholic thought.

So, is it exactly the same? Of course not.

But similar? There are certainly similarities.

Correct, you do not need the permission of a previous spouse to pursue an annulment. The process can also proceed without the testimony of the other spouse as my friend is a testimony to. She is happily married today to a man who is very serious about his Catholic Faith.


I think the point is, in Catholicism, when a declaration of nullity has been granted it is saying that the marriage never happened, at the time of exchange of consent, So the person would not be getting “remarried” but married the first time, despite appearances. Where a Jewish get, seems to be an actual divorce, for when a true marriage breaks down. In that way, they are nothing alike. (Though I admit they are alike in practicality to the person who is attempting a marriage).

Which is why I said they were similar. :shrug:

And really, what it gets down to, is that it is a matter of opinion. I feel that there are enough parallels to call it similar. Others don’t.

But that’s no guarantee of freedom to remarry. While the Jewish woman might get divorced or a “get”, as a Catholic you would still need a decree of nullity which would require an impediment to the validity of the marriage. That would mean that something would have happened before, or up to the time of vows, in order for a marriage to be considered invalid. Rarely does something after the fact allow for an annulment, unless it involves stuff from the past. Sadly, just because he ran off with someone else doesn’t automatically grant an annulment.

Thanks, Gang, for all your responses.
I feel more learn-ed now.

Glad to know that both don’t have to “agree” for the annulment. This “chained for life” situation sounds torturous.


The other person in an annulment case is given the opportunity to respond and to give their own evidence, but if they cannot be found or will not participate, the annulment proceedings can go on without them. Either party can initiate the proceedings, but annulments can be denied, no matter how much the marriage has broken down, if both parties met the requirements to form a marriage bond at the time of the marriage.

Two thoughts - either:

  1. 100 Jewish Rabbis are as cruel & heartless as the husband (I hope this isn’t the case)


  1. The 100 Jewish Rabbis & the husband are protecting a potential future husband from a ton of grief from a really horrific wife - they all must know some private information that they don’t want to make public, but is very, very serious, serious enough to"chain" this wife.

I’ll add a 3rd thought:

  1. This 2nd wife is very brave marrying a man who obtained the power from 100 Rabbis to remarry after “chaining” his 1st, knowing he could do the same to her, if their marriage doesn’t go as he’d like.

Getting special permission from 100 rabbis seems like an awful lot of effort just to be nasty to one person.

Ms. Kin, who runs a real estate company, and her supporters say that Mr. Kin, a physician assistant, is demanding $500,000 and full custody of their 12-year-old son in exchange for the divorce. And they cast doubt on whether he really has the support of 100 rabbis. . .

Instead, Mr. Kin, who in recent years moved to Las Vegas, has repeatedly insisted that Ms. Kin agree to binding arbitration from one particular religious court based in Monsey that is controversial and has been widely denounced by rabbinical authorities in the United States and Israel. Several leading rabbis, including the chief rabbinical office of Israel, have said they would not accept a divorce document signed by this particular court.

So he wants her to pay half a million dollars and give up her child for a document that probably wouldn’t be legitimate anyway? This guy’s a jerk.

To someone trying to blackmail, lying probably doesn’t seem to immoral - also, he must not be too religious and doesn’t care that he’s committing bigamy according to his faith. His new wife’s family probably cares, so If he’s lying, that’s probably why. Goodness.

There is a practical similarity in that while one would hope that a spiteful Catholic spouse could not prevent the declaration of nullity, there is a great deal of room for the process to be abused. A spouse who fights the petition (for good reasons or bad) can tie it up at the diocesan level for several years, and then if a positive ruling is given, they can appeal to Rome, which is another several years.

This is certainly more than long enough to insure that a female petitioner is chained long enough to deny her any further children and greatly reduce the odds of a future marriage.

One would hope that the poor woman in the OP and the Catholic woman in your example would would come to their senses and disregard the mindless “rules” that are preventing them from getting on with their lives.

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