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יד לאישה - סיוע לנשים עגונות ומסורבות גט - Yad L'isha
   
 
 
 


Halacha u'Maaseh: The Law and its Application
In May, Yad L'isha launched a ten-week seminar entitled "L'Halacha u'lmaaseh: The
Law of the Rabbinical Courts," which attracted more than 50 civil lawyers who
specialize in family law. The outstanding roster of lecturers included Chief Rabbi
Shlomo Amar, academics, rabbinical court advocates, rabbinic advisors and
rabbinical court judges.

"I've been through many complementary courses in law," says attorney Yehudit
Kedem, "but this is the first time I've been so mesmerized and engrossed in the
subjects that were covered. The presenters are amazing, the tools and tips that we're
learning are relevant and brilliant. If I had any complaint, it would only be that I wish it
were longer!"

Kedem points out that although family lawyers often have to appear in the rabbinical
courts, "in that sphere, all our training and experience is useless, because the rabbis
view our case through a completely different lens and speak in a different tongue," she
explains. "Yad L'isha is letting us peek through that prism, and teaching us the
rudiments of that language."

Her enthusiasm was echoed by Mordechai Gidron; an attorney with 30 years of
experience in family law, he signed up for the Tel Aviv seminar knowing that he was
lacking the practical tools he needed to effectively represent his clients in the rabbinic
courts.  By the second week, Gidron had brought along another lawyer, and by the
third week the Gidron firm was represented at the seminar by no less than three
advocates. "Already at the first meeting I realized that this was no ordinary seminar,"
he says. "The sessions were on such a high level that I felt compelled to bring the
lawyers who work for me. The knowledge they would acquire would benefit them and,
of course, their clients."

Learning a New Language
"Knowledge is power," says Yad L'isha advocate Osnat Sharon, who addressed
attendees in the sixth session. "There is no question that these lawyers have their
clients' best interest at heart, they just haven't been trained in the intricacies of
halacha or the workings of the rabbinical courts. We are teaching them the
procedures, the laws, the framework and the language."

Says Kedem: "It was extremely beneficial to hear from Sharon, an actual rabbinical
court advocate, who provided us with functional approaches toward building cases
and grounds for appeals. I also gained a lot from the session with [rabbinical court
judge] Rabbi Yair Ben Menachem, which really hammered home the practical
ramifications of an halachic outlook, which is so different from ours - both as civil
lawyers and as secular people living in the Western world."

In addition to being professionally useful, participants also agreed that the seminar
was eye-opening and thought-provoking which, according to Sherman-Shani, was
another of the seminar's goals: "The more lawyers are aware of the dissonance
between the two court systems the more they will challenge and debate the current
system. Our primary aim is to arm them with the tools they need to release agunot,
but our secondary aim is to raise the public discourse to an even higher level."

This was particularly evident at "The Rabbinical Court vs. the Civil Family Courts:
Closing Arguments," a one-day seminar Yad L'isha ran in Jerusalem which drew
family court judges in addition to civil lawyers. "The session on get-annulment, given
by a rabbinical court judge, was of special interest to the civil judges," relates
Sherman-Shani. "The perspective of the rabbis on retroactive annulment generated
great debate and in fact, in accordance with what the rabbinical court justice said, a
prominent legal professor sent an email calling upon all family lawyers to add a clause
to their clients' divorce agreements that would help prevent the phenomenon," she
reports.

"In an ideal world, there would be no agunot," Sherman-Shani continues. "Until then,
Yad L'isha will continue the struggle for justice by freeing as many women as possible
from their chains.  And if we can't represent each one individually, at least we can try
to share our expertise and knowledge with others, for the benefit of agunot
everywhere."

 
 

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