Jewish gets – divorce decrees that, after a marriage fails, can only be provided by the husband – have been the subject of much controversy and even violent crime for years. A woman cannot get remarried under Jewish law unless she can produce a get. But after a marriage goes bad, husbands often withhold the prized document out of spite; or they use it as a bargaining chip in child-custody or alimony disputes. To spur them into compliance, a little extrajudicial persuasion (read: violence, or the threat thereof) may have to be applied.
In 2013, a Brooklyn rabbi named Mendel Epstein was arrested for having organized, in exchange for a king’s ransom, the kidnapping and torture of men who wouldn’t otherwise agree to their wives’ requests for a get.
Two years earlier, New Jersey rabbi David Wax and his wife Judy had been nabbed for allegedly kidnapping and assaulting an Israeli national from whom they were trying to extract a get. The prosecution said that the Waxes administered hours of beatings, breaking the man’s nose; and that they showed their victim a body bag, promising that they would bury him alive if he did not do as instructed.
Epstein and his thugs — including his son David – are now facing the music in secular court.