New York Rabbi in Jewish Divorce Torture Ring Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison

Martin Wolmark was one of nine people, two of them Orthodox rabbis, convicted for their roles in the ring, which kidnapped and tortured recalcitrant husbands.

"Marriage is not a prison": A religious couple walks by a demonstrator protesting Jewish religious divorce policy in Jerusalem.
Alex Levak

A New York rabbi who participated in a ring that violently attempted to coerce Jewish men to grant their wives religious divorces has been sentenced to 38 months in prison.

Martin Wolmark, 57, of Monsey, was sentenced Monday in a U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey, The Associated Press reported.

Wolmark was one of nine people, two of them Orthodox rabbis, convicted for their roles in the ring, which kidnapped and tortured recalcitrant husbands.

According to halachah, or Jewish law, a woman cannot remarry without receiving a Jewish divorce, or get, from her husband. The women who are trapped in such marriages are called agunot, or “chained women.”

The group’s members were busted in an FBI sting operation in 2013. The other rabbi involved in the ring, Mendel Epstein, 70, is scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday.

In November, five participants in the ring, all from New York, were sentenced to prison. Simcha Blumash and Moshe Goldstein, both 32, received the longest sentences, four years.