Helping agunot in times of need

Avivit Moskovitch is a family law lawyer and entrepreneur of the first international center that aims to liberate agunot.

By EFRAT L. COHEN
November 12, 2014 17:17
agunot

Avivit Moskovitch is an entrepreneur of the first international center that aims to liberate agunot. . (photo credit: OFIR HAREL)

 
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Avivit Moskovitch is a lawyer who deals with complicated cases of family law and sees it as her mission to help agunot and people locked in unhappy marriages. As a wife and mother of two girls aged three and 12, she seeks to strike a balance in her own life. 


“From the beginning of my married life, it was clear to me that both my husband and I were going to have a career.” 
 “I got married at the early age of 23, and both my husband and I are self-employed. We always knew what kind of home we were going to have,” she says. 


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Moskovitch knew very well what her career path would be. For the past 17 years she has been a lawyer specializing in family law. 


She is the entrepreneur of the first international center whose aim is to liberate agunot, or women bound in marriages by husbands who refuse to grant them a divorce or are missing and not proven to be dead. Her vision is pragmatic. It is based on the desire to help resolve family and business disputes in a way that provides a multi-level solution quickly and effectively. 


Are there other centers such as yours in the world?
Not that I know of. Certainly not in Israel. I have a lawyer in New York who works with the civil aspect, while I do the Jewish one. 


Is it a coincidence that all your five employees are women? 
I enjoy the company of women. I like their way of thinking, their feelings. I feel comfortable with them. However, with my clients I am not pro men or women on a personal level. Sometimes I meet a man who is right, and sometimes a woman. First and foremost, I connect with the person.  


Do you think the rabbinical courts are still relevant in Israel?
We are a country of religion and state together, and this situation is not going to change. Most of the population here is Jewish, and they choose to marry according to Jewish laws and, in a way, have to get divorced according to the same laws. That is what differentiates Jews from other people in the world. But there is a dissonance. If a couple want to get divorced because they don’t love each other anymore, the Jewish religion does not see that as a valid enough reason to permit a divorce. 




How do these laws represent women?
Many women complain that they lose a lot in the rabbinical courts, but they have a lot of protection from the halacha. For example, the ketuba (Jewish marriage contract) is a halachic matter, and its purpose is to protect the woman. Alimony protects women, and its origin is from the halacha. We can complain about the rabbinical courts, but in many ways they stand for the women. When you go to court, you never know how you’ll end up, and it is the same with the rabbinical courts. 


What is unique in family law? 
Aside from divorces, there are inheritances, wills and estates. Family laws are very subjective. When we talk about emotional matters, every person sees it through his own eyes. Some families fall apart, siblings fight, grandparents dispute. These things break my heart.  
I love everything that is involved with family law because I love people and I want to know what they are going through. We need to help every person get out of a conflict and return to normal life with a minimum of pain for him/her and the family. 
During divorces, there are often situations that involve exposing minors, and that is heart-breaking for me. The clients want their children near them and have good reasons for that. 


What other situations do you face?
Capital agreements between couples in their early life together to prevent future crisis. This is a delicate situation, and every word is sensitive. When a couple wants to get married and they come and sit with a lawyer, it is fragile. Sometimes the parents want the agreement. I have to do it gently so they won’t start fighting after they leave my office. 
Many times I deal with couples who come to get a divorce but there is still hope for their relationship, so I offer them a ‘domestic peace/divorce.’ It is an agreement that gives them a second chance, with Chapter Two for the option of a divorce. In this situation, each side can be a bit more generous with the other side. It is easier and helps in the new way together. 


Do the cases ever enter your home life? 
Yes and no. Yes, since I am also just a human being and have feelings. Sometimes I have cases where my heart goes out to the clients. Nevertheless, I manage to maintain a balanced way of life and know how to make the necessary separation from work to home. When I come home, I make every effort to spend time with my kids. Sometimes I apply the lessons I learned from what I have seen during the day. I learn to appreciate the simple things I have. 
If I debate all day and return home with a smart-alec attitude, I will not get what I need emotionally. I know it, and from that place I take two deep breaths before I walk into the house. 


How do you balance career and family? 
If I come home and think of all the troubles I have seen during the day, some of them are frightening, and it will not be okay. When talking about balance, I pay attention to how much my children need me. My kids don’t have to be victims of my professional success and vice versa. If I want happy, well-adjusted kids, they must receive ‘vitamin mom.’ 

There is no doubt that I chose to have a career, but I try not to have many victims of it. My oldest daughter is 12. She is a teenager and needs me a lot. She calls me whenever she needs me, and she knows that even if I have an important meeting I will stop it because she is on the line. I believe that this is where that balance occurs. 
I grew up in a home where my mother was present. She was invested in us, the kids, with all her heart. I will always remember coming home to hot meals and a smiling mother. 

But in today’s generation it is not always like that. Life has changed, and we need to find how to inject into the relationship with our kids something meaningful, something that gives them an awareness of the anchors in their surroundings. With all the smartphones and gadgets, we have to give them the personal sphere. 


What is your mission? 
I have to be there for my clients in the moments of truth and give them a blanket of resilience. That is very important for a person involved in a legal process. Deep down we are all little children, and I want to help give my clients peace of mind. 








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