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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Worship, Conversion, Intermarriage (5/12)
Section - Question 9.3: Do you need a rabbi for a divorce?

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                                  Answer:
   
   The appropriate answer to this depends on the movement with which you
   are involved, and whether or not you had a "Jewish" wedding. In this
   context, a "Jewish Wedding" is a marriage that was recognized as being
   under the laws of Moses and Israel. Intermarriages, regardless of the
   amount of Judaism practiced in the household or who performed the
   ceremony are not "Jewish" weddings because halacha (traditional Jewish
   law) does not recognize marriages between Jews and non-Jews. There are
   other types of marriages that are not recognized; consult your local
   rabbi for information.
   
   Conservative and Orthodox Judaism require (and Reform recommends) that
   if you have a Jewish wedding, you should get a Jewish divorce, which
   is called a "get". This is because Judaism regards marriage as a
   special relationship between a man and a woman that begins with a holy
   bond. Just as that relationship is created through a religious act of
   marriage, it can only be abrogated through a Jewish act, the "get".
   
   Note that a "get" is required even if you already have a civil divorce
   (with one exception: Reform, but not the other movements, accepts the
   civil divorce papers as equivalent to a "get"). According to Jewish
   law, a marriage is not dissolved until a bill of divorce (get) is
   exchanged between husband and wife. Most Non-Reform American Rabbis,
   and all Rabbis in Israel, will not officiate at a wedding if either
   party has been divorced without the benefit of a get.
   
   Regardless of one's personal convictions or practices, or one's
   movemental affiliation, obtaining a "get" is important. This simple
   procedure does more than just assure the couple that they will be free
   to remarry should they so desire. It also prevents a tragic problem: a
   child born to a Jewish woman whose previous marriage did not terminate
   with a "get" may be considered illegitimate. Any Jew, whether
   observant or non-observant, needs to share in the concern for Jewish
   unity and in providing their children with a clean slate for the
   future.
   
   A Jewish divorce is similar to many present-day legal transactions. A
   divorce contract (get) is drawn up under expert Rabbinical staff
   (consult your local Rabbi to find an appropriate party to do this) and
   signed by witnesses. The husband and wife are not subject to personal
   questions. If they choose to, they need not be present together.
   
   A Jewish divorce usually takes an hour or two, during which time the
   get is prepared and executed. The parties are expected to provide
   proof of identification, and will be asked some formal questions to
   make it clear that the get is being executed on their behalf without
   coercion. Costs may vary in different cases, but on the average, a get
   costs US$350.00.
   
   Note that we should add here that many rabbis will not issue a get
   until the civil divorce has been finalized in order to avoid problems.

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Worship, Conversion, Intermarriage (5/12)
Previous Document: Question 9.2: Do you need a rabbi for a wedding?
Next Document: Question 9.4: How do Jews pray?

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