After Two Years, Israeli Who Refused to Grant His Wife a Divorce Finally Relents

Yaron Attias had been jailed for driving despite confiscation of his license, a sanction imposed for his refusal to grant a bill of divorce

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Image of Yaron Attias found on his Facebook page.
Image of Yaron Attias found on his Facebook page. Credit: Facebook
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

Yaron Attias, who refused for the past two years to give his wife a Jewish religious bill of divorce, on Sunday finally granted his wife, Mazal, the divorce in the rabbinical court in Haifa.

Last week, Attias was sent to prison for driving after the court confiscated his driver's license. He was brought from prison to court on Sunday, where the divorce agreement was signed. Matters of marriage and divorce among Jews in Israel are governed by Jewish religious law, halakha, which require a bill of divorce issued by the husband for a divorce to take effect.

Knesset member Yehudah Glick (Likud) has been working in recent weeks to resolve the matter, and even invited Attias to the Knesset for a meeting, a move that Glick was criticized for by fellow legislators, both male and female. Through Glick's mediation efforts, however, substantial progress on the case was made. After the agreement was signed Sunday, Glick tweeted congratulations to Attias and his now ex-wife and their children.

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Last week, the rabbinical court sentenced Attias to a week in jail for contempt of court after he was found driving despite the confiscation of his license, a sanction imposed for his refusal to grant the bill of divorce. The rabbinical judges warned him that stiffer punishment, in the form of a jail sentence that would last until he relented, would be imposed if he continued to refuse.

On Thursday, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut approved the court's sentence, writing: "After reviewing both sides' arguments, I came to the conclusion that there is no basis for intervening in the decision by the court, which was exercising its authority. This is not a trivial phenomenon. For a very long time, the respondent refrained from fulfilling the sentence handed down in his case, and he was ordered to grant the petitioner a divorce." Hayut added that the seriousness of Attias's behavior and its ramifications were clear and that the courts had decided to treat such cases with the utmost severity.

On Friday, the rabbinical courts' legal counsel and their department dealing with women stuck in this predicament mediated between Attias and his wife in an attempt to formulate an agreement and convince him to comply. The rabbinical court was prepared to arrange the divorce before the weekend, but Attias refused to budge.

Last month, the rabbinical court took a number of steps to convince Attias to comply, including publication and publicizing of his picture. The rabbis wrote in their decision that Attias must not be seated in a synagogue, be allowed to read from the Torah before a congregation, or to say Kaddish.   

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