Smart 'get'

Mavoi Satum teams up with Beit Agnon to help agunot.

Mavoi Satum  58 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Mavoi Satum 58
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Before she discovered the nonprofit organization Mavoi Satum three years ago, Sarah was about to give up on her eight-year plight to end her marriage.
“I just left the case alone because I didn’t know what to do next. I found them through the Internet and talked with them,” says Sarah (not her real name), who is grateful for the moral support she has received from her counselor, Giti. “They told me how to continue my case against my husband through the court.
Now I am getting through,” she says.
“Giti guided me through goals, how to continue my case – I am getting to the end of my case because of the support. They encouraged me to stand my ground and to continue my work against the other side and also to be strong in the [rabbinical] court,” she adds.
Mavoi Satum (which means “dead end”) is a 16-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating the plight of agunot – chained women, so to speak, or women denied a religious divorce by their husbands and thus unable to remarry. The organization provides legal aid, social services and direct emotional support to women. On March 29, the organization will be hosting a sale of designer fashions, held at Beit Agnon in Talpiot – one of S.Y. Agnon’s first stories was about an aguna – where 10 percent of the proceeds will go to Mavoi Satum. Two local fashion designers will be launching their summer lines at this venue.
Mavoi Satum aims to tackle the law that “gives absolute authority over marriage and divorce to the religious courts and empowers men as the sole executors of the divorce process, systematically leaving women vulnerable to extortion” by helping women achieve according to the organization’s mission statement.
“I think it’s the biggest abuse of Jewish women’s human rights, and there has to be a stop to this. We can’t stop till every woman has a right to exit a marriage when she wants to,” says Judith Garson Djemal, a former Mavoi Satum chair, who helped get the organization off the ground with founder Leah Ayn Globe. Garson Djemal urges every Israeli woman to sign a prenuptial agreement.
Thus far, Mavoi Satum has helped hundreds of women receive a get – religious divorce – says Michal Waller, the organization’s chair, who became involved a decade ago. “We take on all the hard cases that some organizations might not be willing to take,” she adds, citing cases such as those in which husbands have fled the country and other complicated circumstances. “What’s different from other organizations is that we also have a social support structure, not just legal support.”
But despite their efforts, not all cases are success stories. For example, an aguna to whom Waller was a companion for years recently gave up after a 15-year battle.
“In most cases, a lawyer fights till the end,” Waller says. “But this particular case was very, very difficult and the woman herself, who was in her late 50s, thought she wouldn’t get married again.”
Yet by bringing attention to the issue through events like the upcoming designer sale, Mavoi Satum’s leaders have faith that the situation will continue to improve.
Says Sarah, “I’m optimistic, and the optimism came through Mavoi Satum.”
To learn more about Mavoi Satum, visit