Grapevine, September 6, 2020: Re-working the pre-nup

The movers and shakers of Israeli society.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN Minister Bogdan Aurescu with President Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
ROMANIAN FOREIGN Minister Bogdan Aurescu with President Reuven Rivlin
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Though fairly common now, pre-nuptial agreements in Jewish circles have actually been around for the better part of a century, and in general probably date back to ancient times when a bride was a chattal, and her father and the groom and his family, haggled over the price.
One of the leading figures in formulating pre-nuptial agreements in Israel is Dr. Rachel Levmore of the Israel Young Israel Movement, who also runs a post-nuptial agreement project, in which she explains to married couples, how important it is to maintain mutual respect, even if the marriage ends in divorce.
Although pre-nups in modern times essentially protect the interests of the wife, to ensure that she will not be left in an anchored marriage in the event that her husband disappears without giving her a Jewish bill of divorce, Levmore is also conscious of situations involving men whose wives refuse to accept a divorce. While such men can, under certain provisions, remarry under Jewish law, they risk being charged with bigamy under civil law.
Levmore has also worked out a proxy arrangement in such cases where husband and wife live in different countries, and it seems to work.
She may now have to put her mind to drafting a pre-nup that ensures that in the event of divorce, fathers will not be deprived of access to their children, and will be permitted to see them as often as they like, so as to guarantee that they will not become estranged from them.
There is something wrong with a system that forces a man to pay alimony to his ex-wife and child support for his children, yet denies him the right to see his children on a regular, frequent basis.
This has once again come to light following the defection of former Bayit Yehudi MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli to Likud. In an interview on Reshet Bet with former MKs Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) and Yigal Guetta (Shas), Moalem-Refaeli said that she made the decision after the realization that she could achieve the things she believes in only if she is a member of the ruling party. Thus, if a previously defeated bill for amendments to the divorce law that would give divorced men greater access to the children comes up again in the next Knesset in which Moalem-Refaeli may be a member, there is a strong possibility that it will again be defeated.
However, if Levmore and others engaged in drafting pre-nup agreements, work out a pre-nup giving prospective fathers greater accessibility, such agreements will carry a lot of weight.
■ DURING THE lockdown period in which museums, galleries and national parks were closed to the public, many people found respite by taking walks in open spaces. But this luxury was not accessible to all. As restrictions eased people gradually returned to the outdoors to observe and to breathe. For some, who had previously considered themselves creatures of the concrete jungle, the opportunity to go outside in the fresh air, this was the first time that they consciously felt an intense yearning for the outdoors.
Unless the Health Ministry imposes new restrictive measures, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens will next week open a “Return to Nature” exhibition of 15 sculptures by leading Israeli artists, for visitors to enjoy as they walk around the gardens.
The exhibits are in both exposed and hidden areas.
Curated by Hadas Maor, thee exhibition includes works by Eitan Ben Moshe, Yaakov Dorchin, Maya Dunietz, Tsibi Geva, Eli Gur Arie, Menashe Kadishman, Dani Karavan, Sigalit Landau, Ella Littwitz, Saher Miari, Moshe Roas, Yehudit Sasportas, Yaara Zach and Guy Zagursky.
This is a dual opportunity for parents to give their children an appreciation of art and the bounty of nature.
■ IT’S NOT surprising that Genesis Prize laureate Natan Sharansky is donating his prize money for tech solutions to conquer COVID-19. One of the conditions of the Genesis Prize is that the person to whom the prize is awarded uses the prize money for the common good. Under ordinary circumstances, Sharansky, a former long-time chairman of the Jewish Agency, might have used the money to promote Jewish learning and Jewish identity among young Jews in the former Soviet Union, or he might have used it to encourage aliyah. But in the Five Books of Moses, Genesis is followed by Exodus, and what the world wants to see is the exodus of COVID-19, so it was a given that Sharansky would make the choice that he has, and that hopefully, this choice will result in the eradication of COVID-19.
■ LEADERS OF Arab-Israeli communities find it difficult to persuade the twenty-something age group to follow the guidelines set down by the Health Ministry, as a result of which in some Arab towns the rate of infection is very high. This is attributed by and large to three-day wedding celebrations at which there are huge crowds, no separation and lots of dancing. There’s also lots of shooting that sometimes result in injuries and also in fatalities.
Umm el-Fahm mayor Samir Sobhi Mahamed has proposed that people holding large weddings which endanger public health should be find NIS 50,000. If such fines were improved, which ministry would receive the money, and how would collection of the fines be implemented? Arab mayors in general are concerned about the proliferation of illegal weapons in their communities, and there is consensus that the police are not doing enough to find and confiscate such weapons. Most of the residents of these communities are peaceful, law abiding citizens, who live in fear of the criminal elements amongst them. The weapons complaint has been going on for years, and it is inexcusable that the situation has become worse instead of better.
■ ROMANIAN FOREIGN Minister Bogdan Aurescu held a working meeting last Thursday with President Reuven Rivlin, who told him that he still hoped to visit Romania during what is left of his term of office. Rivlin had been scheduled to visit earlier this year, but plans had been postponed due to coronavirus. Dignitaries from the US and several European countries have come to Israel in recent weeks, with Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman currently in the country, and Israeli officials have traveled abroad, so there should really be no reason for the president not to catch up on his overseas trips, especially if he has a chance to leave before winter.
■ WHETHER OR not we argue with our mothers and are sometimes embarrassed by them, the older we get, the more we remember the things we loved most about them. Some of us had mothers who were also public personalities, but nonetheless occupied a special role within the family.
One such daughter of a famous mother is Ella Wasserman Gaffen, formerly of Canada, who is a veteran immigrant and the daughter of the late Dora Wasserman, the doyenne of the Yiddish Theater in Canada. Gaffen who is now retired after working in the travel and convention business, has been doing a little writing, and has begun to think more seriously of what her mother meant to her, and not just who she was in terms of an actress and theater director. This caused her to think further about what her friends’ mothers meant to them and how people she doesn’t even know perceive their mothers.
All this reflection led to a desire to put together an anthology about mothers. Submissions can be in either prose or poetry, and will provide a vehicle for sharing memories of mothers with relatives and friends.
The digital project is on a volunteer basis. No one gets paid, but everyone gets a chance to honor his or her mother.
Gaffen anticipates great variety in the stories and poems as they will be written by people of different generations, often coming from different parts of the world, with different life styles and traditions. Some of the older writers may have been caught up with mothers in war-torn countries. Others may have been raised in opulence and wealth. Stories should not exceed two typed pages.
The closing date for submissions is the first week of December.
In the end, says Gaffen, “It will be a good read for everyone. It will produce some tears, some laughter, some joy, some pride.” What she has omitted to say is that it could also lead to family reunions and reunions between friends who have been out of touch for years, but who knew each other’s mothers.
People who are interested should post their queries on the Ella Gaffen Facebook page, and she will be happy to share ideas.
■ WILL WE ever get back to a non-Zoom reality? Zoom is increasingly taking over our lives. Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf, who jointly authored The War of Return in which they contend that western indulgence of the Palestinian Dream has obstructed the path to peace – a book that New York Times columnist and former Jerusalem Post editor in chief Bret Stephens called “convincing and essential” – were geared for a global book tour. They had looked forward to interaction with audiences in different countries around the world, but of course that couldn’t quite happen. They have been interacting via Zoom, but it’s not the same. It’s like putting people in boxes. The Zoom launch from their respective homes has so far taken them to the Zionist Federation of Australia, the UK Friends of Magen David Adom, the Friends of Israel in Scotland, various American organizations and in Israel to the Jerusalem Press Club. There will be further launches after Rosh Hashanah.
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