Religion Magazine

Should "sarvan Get" Be Denied Personal Rights in Prison as Pressure?

By Gldmeier @gldmeier

Yesterday there was a crazy incident in beis din in Jerusalem. Beis Din was trying to persuade a sarvan get, someone who has refused to give his wife a halachic divorce, to issue a get. In order to evade the authorities, Shai Cohen, the sarvan get, jumped out of a second story window, and ran away. The police are still looking for him.

Shai Cohen, sarvan get

Shai Cohen, the sarvan, has been in jail since 2007 due to being classified as a sarvan get. His story started before that, as he was indicted for threatening his wife with murder, but the judge took into account circumstances and made it only a conditional arrest. Also, when he first refused to give the get, it was on ideological grounds with no actual demands - he simply refused to give the get. That makes his refusal worse in the eyes of the beis din and the courts. Only later did he include financial demands in his refusal.
I heard this morning on the radio an interview with MK Eli Ben Dahan. Ben Dahan had been in charge of the rabbinical courts before he entered the Knesset, and he is familiar with the case of Shai Cohen. He pointed to the fact that Cohen has been in jail for over 6 years refusing to give a get and for most cases of jail for refusal to give a get it takes just days or weeks, with extreme cases taking up to two months. Sitting in jail beyond that is very rare, as most people realize by then that this is not the way to go. The fact that Cohen has sat for 6 years and continues to refuse to give the get indicates that there is something unusual about him.

MK Rav Eli Ben Dahan

What was interesting is something else Ben Dahan said. He said that a judge had previously refused to grant Cohen mehadrin food and the ability to daven with a minyan in jail, despite the formal request. The judge wanted to harshen the conditions of Cohen, and how can he deserve to act as a religious man eating mehadrin when he is refusing to give a get. The judge was overruled by the Prison Authority because it goes against prisoners rights and is a legal problem to deny such things.
Ben Dahan said that he considers this absurd that someone who refuses a get can be considered religious with the right to demand mehadrin food and minyan. He said that he is proposing a law that would deal with this issue, though he did not go into detail as to what he is going to propose, as the idea is to make the conditions harsh enough to persuade the prisoner to give the get. I found on INN confirmation that Ben Dahan is proposing a law that will make conditions of sarvan get prisoners much more difficult for them, but it too does not give details of what would be denied to such people.

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