On Thursday, the Ohr Torah Stone, a Modern Orthodox network of institutions working to create the next generation of Jewish leaders, held its third annual “Women Moving Mountains” – or “Eshet Hamidbar” – hike of 300 women to show support for agunot, women trapped unwillingly in their marriages by Jewish law.
Thousands of agunot live in Israel and across the world, waiting to be freed from their marriages. The Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La'isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center is the largest support center for agunot, providing them with representation in both rabbinical and legal courts, hiring private investigators to look for missing husbands, and providing social workers for the women and their children.
Yad La’isha strives to raise awareness both publicly and politically about agunot and their situations, while working to prevent more chained marriages from occurring in the future.
“The plight of agunot is a social issue which affects us all. As a society, we must march alongside them in every possible manner, literally and figuratively, and show our support for setting them free,” said Pina Omer, director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La'isha.
This year’s march took place in the desert from February 20 to February 21. The march was 24 kilometers long and took 24 hours to complete, with overnight accommodations in the Arava desert’s Antelope ranch. This event also included a refreshment station and a concert by Israeli singer, Ronit Shachar.
The walk even included a discussion circle with agunot and Yad La’isha staff of rabbinical court advocates, lawyers and social workers, with the purpose of raising funds for Yad La'isha.
“I’m proud that our institution has taken the leadership role in advocating on behalf of agunot; even more so that we’ve been able to create a movement within Israel advocating on behalf of all chained women,” said Ohr Torah Stone president and rosh yeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander.