In 2013, a lifetime ago it seems, a bunch of orthodox rabbi clergy were accused of the unthinkable: kidnapping men of their own clan and tribe and torturing them into submission. These men, apparently, were husbands to jewish women who wanted a divorce but the men refused to grant the divorce, thereby turning the women into “agunahs” or “chained wives.” In the orthodox community, chained wives are pariahs. They cannot remarry; they cannot have a normal relationship with another man; and any child they have post-marriage would be considered a “bastard” a fate almost worse than death. Because it would mean the child could only marry another “bastard.”
What even does this mean? It is unclear but according to a CNN report, it seems women in the Jewish community would prefer not to birth a child who is considered to be a “bastard.” Thus, when their husbands refused to grant them divorces, these women turned to their clergymen, men of the cloth in their community, for aid.
An FBI sting operation revealed that this aid was illegal because it allegedly involved kidnapping of these husbands and torturing them till they agreed to divorce their wives according to orthodox tradition and laws and the rabbis were paid handsomely for their work.
The rabbis were part of a ring accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars to orchestrate the kidnappings of Jewish husbands to persuade them through torture involving electric cattle prods and screwdrivers to grant “gets,” a document that Jewish law requires a husband to present to his wife in order to be issued a divorce, court papers said.
The men were arrested in October 2013 following an FBI sting operation that ended with Goldstein, Stimler and six other men with ski masks, surgical blades and a 30-foot nylon rope in a warehouse in Middlesex County, New Jersey.
Now that a conviction has been announced, it remains to be seen what their fate will be. CNN says these guys could spend the rest of their lives in prison, ostensibly. But hopefully it won’t come to that. It is not like they set out to be criminals. So the court should not treat this as an ordiinary kidnapping and torture case. They were just trying to help their helpless women folk, for chrissakes!