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The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court decided on Thursday to publicize the identity of a recalcitrant husband who has refused for four years to give his wife a get (writ of divorce).
"Wanted" notices have been published on the Rabbinical Courts' Web site. And the court system's spokeswoman has contacted Israeli media in an attempt to track down David Shem-Tov.
"In an unprecedented move the Rabbinical Court is asking for the public's help to track down a recalcitrant husband who has repeatedly refused to give his wife a get," the court said in a statement.
David Shem-Tov has refused to appear in court on several occasions, according to the statement. As a result the court has tried to use various sanctions against the husband to force him to give a get.
These sanctions include revoking Shem-Tov's driver's license, blocking his bank account, preventing him from leaving the country and preventing him from being employed in all public institutions. The court commissioned a private investigator who failed to locate Shem-Tov.
"I want to start a new life for myself, give birth to more children," Merav, David's wife, said on Thursday.
"And that basic right has been denied me by a man whom I do not wish to live with and all he is doing is motivated by revenge.
"My only hope is that someone out there will see the e-mails I have sent out with his picture and this news article and will want to help me," she said.
All weddings and divorces performed for Jewish Israelis are done in accordance with Orthodox Jewish law. According to Halacha a woman cannot divorce her husband until she receives his consent. Until she does she remains in a type of limbo. She cannot remarry and any child she gives birth to is considered a mamzer - a child born as the result of an illicit sexual relationship. Mamzerim are forbidden to marry.
Tamir Shem-Tov, David's brother, said that David is delaying the divorce because he is waging a war to retain at least partial custody of his daughter, who is now seven years old.
"During the four years that David and Merav were together David developed a strong connection with his daughter," said Tamir Shem-Tov.
"Although we come from a traditional family where the mother is expected to stay home, in David's case he was a mother figure and he allowed Merav to develop a career.
"But Merav refuses to give him joint custody and that is killing him. His only bargaining chip is the get," Tamir Shem-Tov said.
Tamir Shem-Tov said that he had no idea where David was hiding.
"I have not seen him for over a year, when he attended the brit of my son. I occasionally am updated on his well-being from people whom I do not know," he said.
Merav said that the Family Court, relying on the recommendation of a social worker it had appointed, had decided that custody of the daughter would be in the sole hands of the mother and that David could be in contact with his daughter only under supervision.
Merav added that her husband has been cynically using Halacha to keep her captive.
"It is not enough that I am a captive in my husband's hands. My situation is worse than a slave's. According to Halacha a slave can redeem himself. But I can't," she said.