Kidnappings and cattle prods – rabbinical ‘courts’ have painful ways of enforcing divorce

UNDER Jewish law, if a husband refuses to grant his wife a religious divorce, known as a “get”, the woman has the right to request a rabbinical court to take action.

This can prove expensive – and very painful indeed, if this bizarre report is to be believed.

It revolves around the arrest of two orthodox rabbis and eight other men in an FBI sting in New Jersey and New York. They stand accused of plotting to kidnap and torture a man to force him to grant a religious divorce.

They suited up for the task at a New Jersey warehouse by donning Halloween masks and bandannas. One suspect wore a garbage bag over his clothes while another slipped on a Metallica T-shirt on top of his clothes.

Rabbis Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark charged Jewish women and their families thousands of dollars to extract “gets” from unwilling husbands, the FBI said.



Rabbi Mendel Epstein is a prominent ultra-Orthodox divorce mediator in Brooklyn, NY, who this summer published a Bill of Rights of a Jewish Wife, and Rabbi Martin “Mordachai” Wolmark is the head of Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Monsey, NY.

Assistant US Attorney Joseph Gribko told a judge on Thursday in a federal court hearing:

They didn’t do it out of religious conviction They did it for money.

The rabbis and the other men were arrested as a result of an undercover operation that began in August when two FBI agents, one posing as a woman trying to get a divorce, contacted the rabbis. According to the FBI, Epstein spoke about forcing compliance through “tough guys” who use electric cattle prods and even place plastic bags over the heads of husbands.

The organisation involved in the alleged plot had been involved in up to 20 kidnappings over the years.

The undercover agents, including a man posing as the woman’s brother, met with Epstein at his Ocean County home in August. Epstein is quoted as saying during the conversation, which was videotaped:

Basically what we are going to be doing is kidnapping a guy for a couple of hours and beating him up and torturing him and then getting him to give the get.

Epstein is also quoted saying he wanted to use a cattle prod to torture the reluctant husband.

If it can get a bull that weighs five tons to move … you put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute, the guy will know.

He said that his group did a kidnapping every year to year-and-a-half, and that the cost is $10,000 for a rabbinical court to approve the action and $50,000 to $60,000 for the enforcers.

In this report, Monsey Rabbi David Eldensohn, a rabbinical court member, said beating a man into signing a religious divorce makes the separation invalid.

I’m shocked that people who call themselves rabbis would get involved in coercion. If a woman obtains a get in such a manner and remarries, her marriage is not legal and she would be considered living in sin. If she has children, the children are considered born out of wedlock, and that’s considered a disgrace in the community.