(Image courtesy The Jewish Week)
When it comes to searching for the real instigator in the sordid marriage annulment scandal we've been hearing about, it is clear that much of the finger pointing has been directed at Rabbis Kamenetsky, Greenblatt, and Dayan Fuerst. Although the reasons for that are well understood, we believe that much, if not most of the scrutiny should be placed elsewhere, and that is squarely opon the shoulders of ORA.
Who and what is ORA? The Organization For The Resolution Of Agunot was founded in 2002 under the aegis of rabbi Herschel Schachter, and led by the rabble-rousing rabbi Jeremy Stern. ORA has been busy fomenting a repugnant and bull-nosed feminist agenda from behind the scenes, pitting malcontented women against their husbands, and destroying marriages. This rent-a-mob has been busy tarring and feathering many of these men in Jewish neighborhoods all across America, under the battle cry, "Yankel, Berel, and Shmerel, give a get!"
ORA is an organization that was conceived in sin, is steeped in ignorance and confusion, and over the years has unfortunately given birth to many mamzeirim through exactly this type of thuggery. Evidence of it's fraudulent nature can be found right in it's very name: The halachic definition of an 'agunah' is a wife whose husband has gone missing, without knowing if he's alive or dead, not a woman who simply wants 'out' of her marriage. This ill-conceived and wrongheaded approach has actually undermined their very own purported mission statement. By squandering precious time and resources on abetting self-centered women to abandon their marriages in search of some ersatz freedom, they have knowingly neglected those real abandoned wives who are truly in need of help.
Another example of ORA's total lack of integrity can be seen in rabbi Schachter's infamous letter of January 2011 calling for Aharon Friedman to give a get to Tamar. The halacha is clear that coercion and shaming is not warranted in a case of "maus alay", the woman who "wants out." And sure enough the Baltimore bes din, the only halachic body with any jurisdiction in the matter, had paskened that giving a get was not warranted in Aharon's case. But rabbi Schachter's ORA mentality went into high gear, producing a Rashi-typesetted fatwa, which demanded force to be used against Aharon if he would not comply. It was based upon acceptance of the wizard-behind-the-curtain authority of rabbi Kamenetzky, who himself is on record for first supporting the coercion of a get, and failing that to approving annulment of the marriage, to finally denying having anything to do with it. Strangely enough, rabbi Schachter himself expressed disapproval of that same marriage annulment ruling, irrespective of the elder Kamenetsky's omniscience. Stranger still, Schachter's ORA cryptically announced in December 2013 that "Tamar is Free," even though no get was to be forthcoming from Aharon. This was allegedly referring to the self-same annulment ruling that rabbi Schachter himself had rejected!
ORA's hypocrosy and incredulity were fully on display at a rally against Aharon in his hometown of Silver Spring, MD on Dec 4, 2011. One of the featured speakers lecturing Aharon, and waxing poetic about the need to have the utmost respect for a woman's needs, was Barry Freundel. He is the once all-powerful and now discredited RCA member and D.C. pulpit rabbi who was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for voyeuring 52 women - mostly new converts and young students - in his shul mikvah's shower rooms by means of 3 hidden cameras. Another blowhard speaker at the rally was none other than Hirsh Chinn, the guy who married Avraham Rubin's wife Miriam Chaya Mund. Rubin was the fellow who was forced to give his wife a get after he was mercilessly beaten to within an inch of his life by the 'tough guys' of Mendel Epstein, the "Prodfather" who was sentenced in December of last year to 10 years in prison. The Edah Charedis had subsequently issued a letter questioning the validity of that coerced get, in an effort to verify the true facts of the case and prevent a tragedy of mamzeirus.
The origins of this climate of violence at ORA can be traced back to a rambling and disjointed lecture given by rabbi Schachter, wherein he advocates using baseball bats to beat up men who are going through divorces. It is precisely this sort of hyperbole that led to the horrific scene one Tisha B'Av day when Mendel's goons waylayed and beat up an unsuspecting Aharon who had come to pick up his daughter from his in-laws, almost overpowering him until thankfully he was able to get away.
So it is plain to see that ORA, far from being the benevelont Jewish advocacy group they want you to believe, is in reality a sleazy and dangerous rabble-rousing gang of thugs, and their unsuspecting do-gooder stooges, who thrive on intimidation while fomenting an atmosphere that is conducive to violence on whatever quiet and peaceful neighborhood street they plan to descend upon next as vultures to a carcass.
Now that Mendel Epstein and his cohorts have been put away, the men who were previously intimidated by the feminist rabbis are starting to feel empowered to stand up for their halachic rights again. The time has now come for ORA to be investigated for connections they may have had to Epstein's ring, and any other unlawful activities that infringe upon people's liberties, so that it too will disappear. When that day comes, the foundation will have been laid for a stronger Jewish society based opon proper marriage laws from the Shulchan Aruch. And Jeremy Stern will change from being a one trick pony into a more well rounded personality.