Jerusalem restaurants partner to raise awareness about chained women

Eucalyptus resturant (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eucalyptus resturant
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As a part of “Taste of Freedom” restaurant week, held from January 19-25, chefs from 12 of Jerusalem’s most popular restaurants have created a unique dish that shows their individual perception of freedom to raise awareness for women stuck in their Jewish marriages because their husbands refuse to grant them a divorce.
These women are called agunot, or chained women.
This awareness program, which includes restaurants ranging from small shuk joints to high-profile five-star restaurants, is organized by Ohr Torah Stone's Yad La'isha Legal Aid Center.
Ohr Torah Stone, a modern-Orthodox network of 27 institutions, was founded in 1983. The network works to shape Jewish life and learning in the ever-evolving modern world. One of the network's institutions is Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline. This organization is dedicated to helping and liberating agunot, representing 150 women in rabbinical courts each year as well as providing them with private investigators, social workers, personal coaches and emotional support.
“Yad La'isha is the largest, most comprehensive and most experienced support center for agunot in the world, and has been the leading organization these past two decades in representing and setting free women who are chained to marriage," said Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, president and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone.
"We never lose sight of this goal – giving the gift of freedom to women chained in the bonds of marriage. We will continue to be proactive and seek ways of preventing this terrible phenomenon, as well as raising public awareness of the problem, until get-denial is completely eradicated from our midst."
Pnina Omer, director of  Yad La'isha, said that the organization has freed approximately a thousand women.
"However, there are many women who still need our help – and are not even aware that we offer a helping hand to any woman who is faced with a recalcitrant husband, providing legal counsel and representation as well as emotional support," she said. 
The dishes created for this awareness campaign vary in flavor and style.
Chef Rachel ben Elul of restaurant Rachel Ba-Sdera has created “Arroz a la Cubana.” This Spanish rice dish is made with tomato sauce, tuna, bottarga, a fried egg, and topped with a brik filled with banana and a spicy salad dressing. Ben Elul’s mother used to prepare this dish for her on school holidays, reminding her of her days on vacation and freedom.
Another example is the dish prepared by chef Liron Keren of Rahmo: madias – stuffed zucchini.
This dish is made of halved zucchini that are stuffed with meat, cooked in a celery, coriander, potato and artichoke stew, served on white rice with a lemon-chili sauce. These boat-shaped zucchini halves remind Keren of the sea and boats sailing off into the horizon, his image of freedom.
There are many other dishes, like a Sri Lankan-inspired meal that reminds the chef of travel, and a dish inspired by the rainbow, which represents for the chef growth and beauty.
"In merit of events like 'A Taste of Freedom,' the public is exposed to the distress of these women and presented with the opportunity to refer women in such situations to us for help," Omer said.