Couples may not marry at Young Israel of Toco Hills without signing a halachic prenuptial agreement in which each spouse promises to grant the other a get (Jewish divorce) if they should ever part ways.
Refusal by either spouse to take that halachic step to accompany a civil divorce would result in financial penalties.
Such agreements are an important, increasingly common way to prevent the problem of agunot (chained women). They are stuck in Jewish limbo after divorce when their husbands refuse to grant them their freedom under Jewish law to get on with their lives. Without a get, an observant Jew may not remarry.
The halachic prenup was little known a quarter-century ago, but in September the Rabbinical Council of America, the leading organization of Orthodox rabbis in the United States, passed a resolution requiring its members to follow the practice of Young Israel and others and require halachic prenups.
To emphasize the importance of such agreements, Young Israel hosted Rabbi Jeremy Stern, the executive director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, as a scholar in residence in mid-December with the support of the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta. After that Shabbat, the synagogue held a postnup party — a chance for couples who married without halachic prenups to address that oversight.
The event was not meant to protect against a rash of divorces in Toco Hills but to offer a fun way, including cake and music, to raise awareness of the importance of halachic prenups, Rabbi Adam Starr said. “They should become a standard part of all Jewish weddings.”
His own parents signed a postnup at a similar event in Maryland in 2013 after 42 years of marriage.
Get refusal is a longtime issue, Rabbi Starr said, but prenups and postnups are an effective way to make it a decreasing problem.
Photos by Eli Gray