Delayed Jewish burial: rabbi accused of a ‘heinous crime’

Delayed Jewish burial: rabbi accused of a ‘heinous crime’ August 24, 2019

OUR report on August 20 that Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau had warned a man that he would not be allowed to bury his mother unless he granted a religious divorce – a get – to his ‘chained wife’ has taken a bizarre new turn.

The man who was accused of withholding the get – Yisrael Meir Kin, above – has issued a video statement in which he claims that he had, in fact, already granted the woman a get, and that reports of his recalcitrant behaviour was “fake news”.

Kin said he provided a get for his wife at the Beit Din of Shaarey Mishpat, which is headed by Rabbi Tzvi Dov Abraham of Monsey.

This outfit is not recognised by any rabbinical organisation in North America nor by the chief rabbinate in Israel.

The body of Kin’s mother’s body arrived in Israel on Monday night. A Tuesday morning burial was scheduled, but did not take place until hours later, after the religious divorce was reportedly granted. Kin did not travel to Israel for the burial because he could have been arrested for get refusal.

The rabbinical court of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada had asked Lau to withhold the burial and and noted in a letter to the Chief Rabbinate that the man’s mother had supported him in his decision to keep his wife an agunah, or chained woman. Lau in a statement on Tuesday announced that he would comply with the request to delay the burial.

Lau later said that Kin’s family had placed a $20,000 bond to ensure that he would produce the get for his wife in front of a rabbinical court when one was arranged.

But Kin says in the video that neither Lau nor anyone from the chief rabbinate contacted him nor did he or his family place a deposit to insure the get. He also pointed out that he is related to Lau by marriage through his wife. Thus Lau had:

An interest in doing this heinous crime against my mother.

And he accuses the chief rabbinate of “corrupt activities” and “going against tradition to fulfill its evil deed”.

The New York Times in 2014 reported that Kim, who had remarried, was demanding $500,000 and full custody of their then-12-year-old son in exchange for the divorce.

Earlier, in 2009, 200 people rallied outside Kin’s home in the US and chanted “Stop abuse” and “Free your wife”.

Kin and his wife, Lonna, the parents of one child, had been separated for four years, and though a civil divorce had already been granted, he refused to appear before a recognised rabbinic court to grant her a get. Without it, she was unable remarry and was considered an agunah.

The Rabbinical Council of California (RCC) issued a seiruv, or letter of contempt, against Kin in March 2007 for refusing to appear before the beit din, a rabbinic judicial panel.

Kin comes from a prominent Los Angeles Orthodox family – both his parents are longtime educators in the Beverly-La Brea area, and his brother, Rabbi Elyahu Kin, is a leader at the outreach organisation Torah Ohr. Another brother is president of an Orthodox congregation.

The chief rabbinate denied Kin’s claims:

We regret that the refuser continues his crooked conduct and is now attacking the Beit Din (rabbinical court).

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jim Jones

    Judaism – just as f’d up as all the other religions.

  • WallofSleep

    “… and though a civil divorce had already been granted, he refused to appear before a recognised rabbinic court to grant her a get. Without it, she was unable remarry and was considered an agunah.”

    Here’s a thought Lonna, get out of that garbage superstition.

  • Erp

    There are repercussions if she remarries without a get in that any children she has from the subsequent marriage would be considered mamzer and therefore ineligible to marry most other Jews except converts or other mamzer (which is legally enforced for weddings in Israel though a couple could always wed outside Israel) and that status is hereditary. Note that her former husband is free to remarry without his subsequent children being labelled mamzer. Reform Judaism doesn’t recognize mamzer status and, I think, Conservative Judaism refuses to accept evidence that someone is a mamzer (i.e., the set of mamzer exists but it is an empty set). However, Orthodox Judaism does and it is Orthodox Judaism that administers the law for marriages and divorces in Israel for all Jews including secular Jews.

  • rubaxter

    Methinks the Wan&#8203ker doth protest too much …

  • persephone
  • John Thunderer

    But she lives in the US, not in Israel.
    She should just ignore all the nonsense – and go her own way.
    Life would much simpler if she did.

  • Cynthia

    Under US law she could, but she wouldn’t be able to get remarried within her religion and any children she may have would have issues within the religion. While hypothetically, you could just say that she could stop caring, the fact is that the husband knows full well that she cares, and is doing this deliberately as a form of coercion.

    In Ontario, Canada, the law allows the regular family courts a fair bit of power to deal with Jewish or Muslim spouses (often husbands) who try to withhold religious divorces as a bullying tactic. I’ve had cases where husbands makes these threats, and then we just produce the text messages and request that the court refuse to hear the husband’s side of the case until the religious divorce is given (my local court has a high number of both Jewish and Muslim litigants, so the judges know this law well). Once they are told by a judge that the wife will basically get whatever she wants if he doesn’t do it, husbands tend to cooperate. Unfortunately, New York doesn’t have the same law and some pretty awful stuff results.