Tel Aviv University Won't Renew Contract of Man Who Refused to Grant Wife Divorce

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File photo of students at Tel Aviv University, March 2013.Credit: David Bachar

Tel Aviv University will not extend the contract of Dr. Oded Gez, who has refused grant his wife a get for four years despite being ordered by the rabbinical courts to do so.

The decision comes six weeks after the Supreme Rabbinical Court instructed Gez, a resident of Ra’anana, to divorce G., his wife. When he refused, the court called on the public to avoid Gez and not do business with him until he grants the divorce. It also gave a green light to a social media campaign against Gez launched by a friend of G.’s which went viral and was reported widely in the mainstream media.

Gez has been doing post-doctoral work in TAU’s earth sciences department for over a year and had been receiving a stipend. Last month, when Haaretz asked the university about Gez, TAU denied that he was working there. Gez has also been dismissed from Bar-Ilan University, where he had been part of the physics department and a member of its Institute for Advanced Torah Studies.

Immediately after the rabbinical court ruling, Gez petitioned the High Court of Justice on grounds that the Supreme Rabbinical Court had exceeded its authority when it permitted him to be shamed in public. This week the High Court decided to hear his petition with an expanded panel, which will also deal with another case of public sanctions against a recalcitrant husband.

The Supreme Rabbinical Court, headed by Chief Rabbi David Lau, ruled in February that until Gez divorced his wife, he would be subject to sanctions known as the “Rabbeinu Tam shunning,” which the court said includes not doing business with him, not hosting him in homes, not visiting him if he’s sick, not to allow him into synagogues or calling him to the Torah or to lead prayers, not greeting him or giving him any honor “until he retreats from his stubbornness and harkens to the rabbis, and gives a divorce to his wife in the tradition of Moses and Israel, and releases her from her chained state.”

A few months before the ruling, in an exceptional move that was approved by the High Court, the Supreme Rabbinical Court summoned a number of lecturers from Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv universities to attend a hearing with Gez present in an effort to pressure him to divorce his wife.

According to Prof Benjamin Svetitsky, who attend the hearing for Tel Aviv University, the rabbinical court judges said they had the authority to order Gez dismissed from his positions, although legal experts say that is probably not the case. In any event, both universities chose to disassociate themselves from Gez without such an order.

Prof. Aviad Cohen, dean of the Academic Center of Law and Science, who has also represented several women who have been refused divorces, said it’s too early to guess how the High Court would rule on Gez’s petition.

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