On Thursday, neighborhoods in southern Tel Aviv were plastered with posters of women. The posters detailed the women's names and the years they have been agunas, "chained women" who are being held hostage by their husbands in abusive marriages. An aguna, or a Jewish woman being denied a get (divorce document) by her husband is not allowed to marry another man according to Halacha, Jewish law. "The pain in my heart is deep as I remain in a state of perpetual waiting," says Rivka, 41, one of the women featured on the posters.The rabbinic courts in Israel estimate that there are about 400 cases of 'get refusal' in one year, but Yad La'isha, a legal team from Ohr Torah Stone working to represent women in abusive marriages, believes that the number is much higher. "The world needs to know what they are up against," said Pnina Omer, director of Yad La'isha. The creative force behind the posters is Israeli street artist DODO. "Street art has the power to get people to connect to the subject matter, to stop for a moment and think, and then decide to act in a positive way to change our environment and make a real change in society," he said.
The protests took place on the annual Aguna Day, intentionally set last Thursday, on the Fast of Esther, to draw a connection between the Jewish heroine of the Purim holiday and the heroic acts that these women are forced to perform, sometimes for years on end. "Just as Queen Esther sacrificed and worked to transform the legacy of her people, we are hopeful and confident that the pain of these modern-day women will pave a path to save others from future imprisonment in marriages imposed on them against their will," said Ohr Torah Stone president Rabbi Kenneth Brander. Brander called directly on today's rabbinic leadership to "discover and implement lasting halachic solutions that will end the disgrace of get refusal." "The challenge of the aguna is one which deserves the attention of our entire Jewish community," he said. Added Omer, As a society, we need to ask ourselves how we allow such an injustice to continue."Added Rivka, "I awake and think that perhaps today is the moment where the news will come my way. It is that sense of hope that I extend to you... I have been waiting for 17 and a half years but my hope has still not been extinguished."