British Chief Rabbi Calls for Jewish Community to Shun Man Who Won't Grant Wife Divorce

London rabbinical court calls on London's Jewish community to publicly shun recalcitrant and prevent him from entering synagogues.

Eli Ballon

For the first time, London’s main rabbinical court and Britain’s chief rabbi have published the name and photo of a recalcitrant husband, and are calling for him to be banned from synagogues and publicly shunned.

In a notice published in the London Jewish Chronicle, the London Beth Din calls for congregations to bar John Abayahoudayan, who has refused his estranged wife Rivka a get, or Jewish divorce, for 15 years, the Jewish Chronicle reported Friday. The ad also asks Jewish individuals to “consider whether it is appropriate for them to have social or business contacts with him until the get is given.”

The Abayahoudayans had a civil divorce in 2002, but the lack of religious divorce makes Rivka Abayahoudayan an agunah, or chained women, who is unable under Jewish law to remarry.

The Sephardi Beth Din said it supported the London Beth Din’s decision. Approached by the Jewish Chronicle, John Abayahoudayan refused to comment.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said, “The Beth Din and I would like to send the strongest possible message that when individuals abuse the halachic process in a way which causes deep emotional and personal pain and suffering, we will do everything in our power to try to stop that abuse and support those affected.”

According to the Jewish Chronicle, the Beth Din 10 years ago placed an advertisement criticizing a recalcitrant husband, but did not publish his photo or call for any action against him.