Jewish Law Logo Jewish Law - Examining Halacha, Jewish Issues and Secular Law
Becher v. Becher
New York Supreme Court Appellate Division -- Second Department (1997)

Docket No. 97-03205



- against -






A. The Statutory Framework.....................2

B. The Problem.................................3

C. The Legislative Solution....................5



PURPOSE OF A DIVORCE DECREE...................10


A. The Challenged Laws Have the Secular Purpose
of Insuring That a Party to a Divorce Is Not
Inequitably Preventing His or Her Spouse From

B. The Primary Effect of the Challenged Laws
Is Not To Advance Religion But To Make Secular
Divorce Decrees Meaningful

C. The Challenged Laws Do Not Entangle
Government and Religion




Agostini v. Felton, 117 S. Ct.
1997 (1997)...............................16, 19

Board of Educ. v. Mergens, 496
U.S. 226 (1990)...............................13

Bowen v. Kendrick, 487 U.S. 589

Cappiello v. Cappiello, 110 A.D.
2d 608, 488 N.Y.S. 2d 399 (1st Dep't 1985)....21

Goldman v. Goldman, 554 N.E. 2d
1016 (Ill App.) appeal denied,
555 N.E. 2d 376 (Ill. 1990)...............11, 21

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602
(1971)....................................12, 17

Minkin v. Minkin, 434 A.2d 665 (N.J.
Super. 1981)..............................11, 21

Presbyterian Church v. Mary Elizabeth Blue
Hull Mem'l Presbyterian Church
, 393 U.S.
440 (1969)....................................18

Ralske v. Ralske, 85 A.D. 2d 598, 445
N.Y.S. 2d 9 (2d Dep't 1981)....................2

Serbian E. Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich,
426 U.S. 696 (1976)...........................19

Witters v. Washington Dep't of Servs.,
474 U.S. 481 (1986)...........................15

Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills Sch.
, 509 U.S. 1 (1993)......................15


Domestic Relations Law 10-12, 170,
235-236.....................................2, 7

New York Public Health Law 4210-c.............16

New York Executive Law 296(10)................16


I. Haut, Divorce in Jewish Law and Life........5

Rosenzweg v. Administrator, 9 Piskei
Din, 1995.....................................21


This amicus curiae brief is submitted on behalf of the current Speaker of the New York State Assembly who introduced and supported the enactment of amendments to the Domestic Relations Law in 1983 and 1992 that are under constitutional attack in this case. The State of New York is not a party to this case, and, to this point, the Attorney General has taken no position regarding these amendments. The Speaker is entirely satisfied -- as are the colleagues who supported the amendments -- that both laws are constitutionally valid. Speaker Silver is, therefore, submitting this brief to correct a host of misstatements regarding these amendments made in the briefs challenging their validity. A fair and dispassionate appraisal should be made of the laws in question, and inflammatory rhetoric regarding legally irrelevant internal religious disputes should be set aside. There can be no real doubt as to the constitutionality of these amendments.

A. The Statutory Framework

The laws of New York -- like those of 49 other States and the District of Columbia -- authorize an adult male and female to create the legal status of marriage by following certain prescribed procedures. See, e.g., Dom. Rel. Law 10-12. New York law also authorize courts to dissolve the legal marriage status by the process of annulment or divorce. See e.g., Dom. Rel. Law 170.

A judgment of annulment or divorce is an equitable remedy. The court that is asked to enter such a judgment must prescribe, as part of its divorce or annulment decree, conditions that fairly provide for the results of the parties' marital relationship -- i.e., custody and visitation of children, maintenance and support of a spouse who is equitably entitled to such support, and division of marital property. See Cappiello v. Cappiello, 110 A.D. 2d 608, 488 N.Y.S. 2d 399 (1st Dep't 1985), aff'd 66 N.Y. 2d 107, 495 N.Y.S. 2d 318 (1985), and Ralske v. Ralske, 85 A.D. 2d 598, 445 N.Y.S. 2d 9 (2d Dep't 1981).

The most important purpose of a decree of annulment or divorce is to enable each of the parties to the dissolved marriage to enter into a future marital relationship with another spouse. Since the laws of all States prohibit bigamy, no new marriage relationship may be created by an individual who is still, by reason of a previous marriage, legally bound to his or her spouse. A divorce decree must sever that relationship -- and must do so on an equitable and even-handed basis. It would plainly be inequitable and unfair to sever a marital relationship in a manner that would enable one spouse to remarry but would prevent the other spouse from doing so and ignore the consequences of such inability to remarry for that spouse.

B. The Problem

The laws of New York -- like those of 49 other States and the District of Columbia -- allow a marriage to be performed by clergymen under religious auspices. Section 11(1) of the Domestic Relations Law declares that a marriage may be "solemnized" in New York by a "clergymen or minister of any religion . . . ." The terms "clergymen or minister" are defined in Section 2 of the Religious Corporation Law as follows:

The term "clergyman" and the term "minister" include a duly authorized pastor, rector, priest, rabbi, and a person having authority from, or in accordance with, the rules and regulations of the governing ecclesiastical body of the denomination or order, if any, to which the church belongs, or otherwise from the church or synagogue to preside over and direct the spiritual affairs of the church or synagogue.

As a result of these provisions, marriages are routinely performed in New York under religious auspices. No party to this case or to any other reported decision has challenged the constitutionality of the delegation of this legal authority to religious functionaries. Two adults who voluntarily choose to enter into the legal relationship of marriage by this means -- i.e., by having a religious official perform the ceremony pursuant to which they become husband and wife -- can surely expect that their mutual decision to invoke religious authority will have legal consequences.

In 1983, when the New York Legislature enacted the first of the provisions being challenged in this case, it found that divorces were being obtained under existing law in New York although one spouse was still, by his or her own conduct, preventing the other spouse from remarrying after the entry of the divorce decree. The most typical situation involved the refusal of an individual who has chosen to participate in a religious marriage to take even the most minimal steps needed to sever the religious marriage -- i.e., to undo the consequences of the choice that he or she had voluntarily made by having the marriage "solemnized" before a religious functionary.

Specifically, a husband or wife married in a Jewish religious ceremony might refuse to participate in the writing and delivery of a get -- a Jewish religious divorce. Such a refusal could be the act of either the husband or the wife. Jewish law requires that both parties willingly participate. The husband must direct the writing and delivery of a "bill of divorce" and the wife must accept it personally or appoint an agent to receive it for her. If the husband refuses to instruct that the get be written and transmitted or if the wife refuses to accept the get, the religious marriage remains binding notwithstanding a civil divorce decree. 6 Encyclopedia Judaica 132 (1971).

The most notorious cases of such injustice involve women whose husbands refuse to participate in a religious divorce unless they are paid exorbitant sums of money. The number of women in New York subjected to this indignity and injustice has been estimated by one observer to exceed 15,000. I. Haut, Divorce in Jewish Law and Life 101 (1983). But the consequences are not limited to women. A man may be denied the opportunity to remarry if his spouse refuses to accept a get.

In either case, a spouse who no longer observes the faith in which the couple was married may choose to remarry without a religious divorce. Alternatively, one spouse may be willing to remain unmarried so long as the other spouse does not comply with his or her extortionate demand.

C. The Legislative Solution

In 1983 and again in 1992, the Legislature amended the Domestic Relations Law (1) to prevent spouses from receiving the benefits of a divorce decree while still maintaining a barrier to the other spouse's ability to remarry and (2) to take into account the financial consequences for the spouse who is arbitrarily prevented from remarrying. The 1983 law -- amended slightly to its present form in 1984 -- closed the courthouse door to any party seeking a divorce after a marriage "solemnized" in a religious ceremony unless he or she represented to the court under oath and subject to the penalty of perjury that he or she would not impose an inequitable barrier to the other spouse's remarriage by preventing the religious dissolution of the marriage. It provided a rational, sensible and wholly secular remedy. A party initiating a divorce proceeding must be ready to swear to the judge who is being asked to do equity that he or she will free his or her spouse to remarry. If he or she cannot or will not make such an oath, the complaint for divorce should not be heard. The intended consequence of this law is that he who seeks equity must do equity -- the spouse who wants to be free to remarry must file a solemn promise that he or she will make the other spouse equally free to remarry.

The 1992 law filled a gap left by the 1983 law. It extended the policy of the 1983 law to any divorce proceeding, regardless of who initiates it by explicitly authorizing a judge sitting as a court of equity in a divorce proceeding to consider the effect of a spouse's failure to free the other spouse for remarriage as one of several factors in fashioning an appropriate decree governing distribution of the marital assets and the setting of maintenance. In this manner, the 1992 law prescribed that a husband may choose to maintain an inequitable barrier to his wife's remarriage, but he then would provide compensation to her for this personal choice.

In this brief, we explain the constitutional basis for these laws. They raise no serious constitutional questions. If their rationale and their effect are carefully analyzed, it is clear that they offend no constitutional principle.



Since the appellant makes extravagant claims regarding the religious purpose and primary effect of the 1983 and 1992 laws, it is important to bear in mind the limited class affected by those laws. They have no impact whatever, by their own terms, on marriages performed by city officials (Dom. Rel. Law 11(2)) or by justices or judges (id. 11(3)). Nor do they affect any marriage solemnized according to Domestic Relations Law 11(4). Only a man and woman who choose to have their legal marriage relationship created by a clergyman are covered by 253 and, through incorporation by reference, by 236(b)(5)(h) and 236(B)(6)(d).

This is a critical fact in evaluating the constitutionality of these laws. The challenged amendments affect only instances in which the legal relationship of husband and wife was created and is recognized by secular law because the parties went through a religious ceremony that they both voluntarily chose. If, at some later date, one (or both) of the parties determines that he or she wishes to sever this voluntary relationship, the fact that they both chose, of their own free will, to enter into it through a religious ceremony is a relevant legal consideration for a court of equity in deciding when and under what circumstances to declare that the marriage is to be dissolved.

A court of equity should consider the ramifications of the religious wedding ceremony that the parties voluntarily undertook. It is surely not a violation of the Establishment Clause to direct the parties to undo, to the extent feasible, the religious consequences of the marriage ceremony that both parties selected (and that New York law adopts) insofar as those consequences affect the purpose of the divorce -- i.e., to free both parties for future remarriage.

Assume hypothetically, for example, that the religious ceremony that the parties chose required the husband to give the wife a wedding band and that under the rules of the faith by which the marriage was solemnized, the bond of marriage continues until the wife physically returns the wedding band. Would it be constitutionally impermissible for a court of equity to direct the wife, as a condition of obtaining a civil divorce, to return the wedding band so that the husband may remarry? Would not the direction to return the wedding band be an equitable means of insuring that the terms and conditions under which the parties voluntarily married -- which happen to be the rules of their religious faith -- are not manipulated by one party to the divorce to prevent his or her spouse from obtaining the benefits of the civil divorce?

The challenged laws have this limited effect. In both 1983 and 1992 the New York Legislature took steps to prevent inequitable and unjust refusals by one party to a religious ceremony to undo the marriage knot that he or she had jointly tied with his or her spouse and to ameliorate the consequences of such refusals. The fact that the particular knot may grow out of the religious doctrine that both affirmed when they were married does not, as a matter of constitutional law, prevent the legislature and the courts from making sure that the knot is undone in an equitable fashion before putting a judicial imprimatur on the dissolution of the marriage.


The appellant is entirely wrong in characterizing the 1983 and 1992 laws as efforts to correct a "religious inequity which exists as a result of religious law" (App't Br. 23). The Legislature was not interested in "religious inequities," and its purpose was not to alleviate "religious inequities." Its sole purpose was to make secular civil divorces effective and equitable -- to enable men and women who are divorced to be free to remarry -- and to adjust the financial circumstances when remarriage is prevented by the action or inaction of one party.

Jewish law denies the right to remarry to both parties unless the husband and wife go through the legal form of writing and receiving a bill of divorce. The participation of both husband and wife for a very limited time -- several hours at the most -- is needed to effectuate the Jewish divorce so that both parties may remarry. If either party refuses to participate in the conduct of writing and receiving a bill of divorce, that party is arbitrarily erecting a barrier to remarriage by his or her divorced spouse.

In order to make the civil divorce effective, the first of the challenged laws requires the plaintiff to submit an affidavit declaring a readiness to cooperate in all steps necessary to dissolve the marriage. The later amendments also authorize a judge to take into account, in dividing marital property and in awarding maintenance, whether either party has been improperly maintaining a barrier to his or her spouse's remarriage and to adjust the couple's marital assets and future financial relationship to reflect the choice made by the party who refuses to sever the religious marital tie.

No judge is empowered by these laws to render any decision that incorporates or rests upon religious law. The challenged laws do not compel any person to perform a religious act.(1) The entire procedure is as religiously neutral as would be the return of a wedding band in the hypothetical previously discussed.

Requiring a party who seeks a divorce following a marriage solemnized by a religious ceremony to take all steps in his or her power to remove religious restrictions on the spouse's remarriage as a precondition to receiving an annulment or divorce is consistent with, if not required by, the secular purpose of an annulment or divorce. A court should not permit a party to benefit from a decree severing the legal ties of marriage if it knows that the party seeking that relief is continuing, by his or her voluntary action or inaction, to prevent the other party from remarrying. It is just and proper to ask the party seeking a divorce whether he or she is maintaining any barrier to the other's remarriage. And it is permissible, for secular reasons, to refuse to entertain the divorce proceeding -- or refuse to grant the requested relief -- unless, as Section 253 prescribes, adequate assurances are received. It is also appropriate for the court to adjust the distribution of marital property (regardless of who initiates the proceeding) or to adjust a financial award to compensate for the existence of a barrier to remarriage, as Section 236(B)(5)(h) and 236(B)(6)(d) do. In this way, the court is insuring that the secular purpose of divorce -- freeing both husband and wife to remarry -- is truly being effectuated.


The appellant asserts that the most recent amendments and, by necessary inference, the 1983 law, violate the three-pronged Establishment Clause test of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). In fact, both the 1983 and 1992 laws clearly pass constitutional muster under Lemon.

A. The Challenged Laws Have the Secular Purpose of Insuring That a Party to a Divorce Is Not Inequitably Preventing His or Her Spouse From Remarrying.

We have discussed the overriding purpose of these laws in the earlier pages of the brief. The laws have a clear objective -- to ensure that individuals who are divorced by order of the New York courts will be free to remarry, and to prevent one party to a New York divorce from maintaining inequitable control over the future marital and financial status of the other party. These are patently just and sound secular goals. The New York Legislature was unquestionably entitled to ensure the efficacy of its divorce procedure and to prevent a husband or wife from taking unfair advantage of the divorce procedure to fetter the other party and to provide opportunities for extortion. See, e.g., Bowen v. Kendrick, 487 U.S. 589, 602-604 (1988); Board of Educ. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 248-249 (1990).

The appellant is simply wrong in declaring that the Legislature is disabled by the First Amendment from dealing with an "inability to remarry" that is "imposed by religion rather than by secular law" (App't Br. 24). Since the parties chose to be married pursuant to religious law, the State of New York may take measures to prevent one party to the marriage from exploiting and misusing religious law to undercut the secular civil dissolution of the marriage (and the attendant right to remarry) that is accomplished by judicial decree. Religious law is the tail wagged by the dog -- secular divorce law -- and it is relevant only because religious law may be exploited in these circumstances to prevent the civil divorce from being effective or to enable one spouse to extort money from the other.

When appellant Yehudah Becher chose to marry respondent Mina Becher in a religious ceremony on July 28, 1991 (R. 19), he may be deemed to have consented to take whatever measures were in his power to free her to remarry if they ever divorced. He cannot claim, in 1997, that subjecting him to the provisions of Sections 236(B)(5)(h) and 236(B)(6)(d) of the Domestic Relations Law because he refuses to remove a barrier to his spouse's remarriage is a violation of his rights under either the Establishment or Free Exercise Clause if he chose, in the first place, to create the legal marital relationship via a religious ceremony. A court may properly demand of him, as part of its secular civil objective of freeing both parties for remarriage, that he undertake to remove all barriers to remarriage by participating in the writing and delivery of a get. A court may also properly act to ensure that his spouse be left with the sufficient resources to maintain herself where she is precluded from combining her resources with another spouse in another marriage. And the Legislature, in enacting the laws prescribing those conditions, was acting for a secular purposes.

B. The Primary Effect of the Challenged Laws Is Not To Advance Religion But To Make Secular Divorce Decrees Meaningful.

The appellant contends that the primary effect of the challenged laws is to advance religion, and he argues that the laws have this effect in three ways (App't Br. 27-29). None of the three specifications is valid.

(1) There is no "incorporation" of Jewish law or "subordination" of state authority. -- Neither the 1983 or the 1992 amendment "incorporates" Jewish law in any manner. Couples who have been married secularly are not subjected to any requirement whatever. Couples who have been married religiously need only do whatever they can to remove barriers to remarriage. The law specifies no religious ceremony and incorporates none. Nor does it "facilitate the remarriage of observant Jews," as the appellant contends. It includes "observant Jews" in the entire universe of those for whom a civil divorce should be an effective legal measure that enables them to remarry.

By seeking to make secular divorce decrees effective for everyone and by including "observant Jews" among those who benefit from an effective divorce decree, the Legislature did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The fact that observant Jews may benefit from a policy that is designed generally to assist all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation, does not invalidate the law. In Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills Sch. Dist., 509 U.S. 1 (1993), a deaf Catholic student benefited directly from a state-employed sign-language interpreter who provided his services in a sectarian religious school. The Supreme Court held that the "primary effect" test of Lemon was satisfied because such assistance was given to all deaf students, notwithstanding the benefit to religion if a Catholic student received such assistance in his religious school. Similarly, in Witters v. Washington Dep't of Servs., 474 U.S. 481 (1986), the recipient of a vocational tuition grant was permitted to use the funds to study for a Christian ministry. These decisions were very recently reaffirmed in Agostini v. Felton, 117 S. Ct. 1997, 2014 (1997), where a majority of the Supreme Court squarely held that "placing full-time employees on parochial school campuses does not as a matter of law have the impermissible effect of advancing religion through indoctrination." It follows, a fortiori, that the very incidental benefit that religious observers obtain as a result of the challenged laws is not an impermissible advancement of religion.

(2) There is no religious preference or discrimination. -- The appellant alternatively argues that the fact that the challenged laws were principally designed to help Jews is their disqualifying feature. He maintains that the law "advances Orthodox Judaism over other religions such as Catholicism and Protestantism" (App't Br. 27-28). The law does not, on its face, engage in any religious favoritism. It is not invalidated merely because the principal evil sought to be prevented by the challenged laws usually arises in the context of observant Jews. If that consequence rendered a law unconstitutional, any law that protects consumers of kosher food would be automatically invalid. The same would be true of a law that bars unnecessary autopsies that violate religious convictions (New York Public Health Law 4210-c) and of a law that prohibits employment discrimination against Sabbath observers (New York Executive Law 296(10)).

"Primary effect" is not determined by whether a particular religious person or group may benefit from a challenged law. This prong of the Lemon test is designed to prohibit laws that actually encourage adherence to one religion or to all religions, not laws that accord to religious observers the same protections that the law gives everyone else.

No one will be encouraged to become an observant Jew because the religious scruples of observant Jews are taken into account in determining how to make a secular civil divorce effective. These challenged laws do not encourage or promote particular religious observances. They only give to certain religious observers the same protection that secular courts provide generally to anyone whose spouse seeks to misuse the divorce process.

(3) There is no coercion of a religious act. -- The appellant finally argues that the challenged laws "coerce a husband to perform the religious act of delivering a [g]et to his wife" (App't Br. 28). Assuming, arguendo, that participating in the writing and delivery of a get is a "religious act" (but see note 1, supra), the 1983 and 1992 amendments require only that either spouse undo what he or she has done by participating in a religious marriage ceremony. The "primary effect" of such a requirement is not to advance religion, but to make the court's divorce decree effective.

The appellant confuses the kidnapper with the hostage when he asserts that Section 253 "has unconstitutionally subjected the rights of a citizen to obtain a civil divorce hostage to the dictates of a religious divorce" (App't Br. 31-32). In fact, the rights of the spouse who needs a religious divorce in order to remarry were, prior to the enactment of these laws, hostage to the whims and demands of the spouse who is prepared to ignore the consequences of his or her religious marriage. The "primary effect" of Section 253 and of the 1992 amendments is to release the captive spouse's rights and give him or her the same benefits of a divorce that the non-observant spouse enjoys.

C. The Challenged Laws Do Not Entangle Government and Religion.

The appellant argues that the 1992 amendment entangles government in religious matters because, according to the appellant, some authorities in Jewish Law disapprove of the remedy provided by Sections 236(B)(5)(h) and 236(B)(6)(d). Appellant's discussion of this contention (App't Br. 37-42) is oblivious to the fact that the greatest and most clear "entanglement" in religious affairs is the argument the appellant is making. If this Court were to pay any attention whatever to an internal ecclesiastical dispute, it would plainly be violating the First Amendment rule that prohibits consideration of internal religious disputes by a secular court. See Presbyterian Church v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Mem'l Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 451 (1969) ("[t]o reach those questions would require the civil courts to engage in the forbidden process of interpreting and weighing church doctrine"); Serbian E. Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 696, 708-711 (1976). It is ironic that the appellant seeks to invalidate the law because, he asserts, it is opposed by "Jewish Halachic scholars, Rabbis and deans of the largest Orthodox [y]eshivas" (App't Br. 38). If this Court were to inquire into the religious acceptability of the 1992 law -- a subject as to which there may be substantial dispute -- it would be unconstitutionally interfering in internal religious disputes.

The 1992 amendment does not "entangle" government and religious institutions in any way. No court makes any religious judgment, no court calls on religious authorities for guidance, and no court or government official pries into or supervises any religious institution. A judge determines only whether a spouse is maintaining a barrier to remarriage and rules accordingly with respect to marital property and maintenance.

In its recent decision in Agostini v. Felton, 117 S. Ct. 1997 (1997), the Supreme Court clarified the "entanglement" test and explained that it was merely "an aspect of the inquiry into a statute's effect." 117 S. Ct. at 2015. The Court rejected in Agostini some of the extreme "entanglement" theories that had been suggested in earlier opinions, and it held that only "pervasive monitoring" of religious institutions -- which were absent in Agostini -- could violate the Establishment Clause. The laws that are challenged in this case require no "monitoring" whatever of religious institutions. They require only the submission of sworn statements, the participation in a short legal transaction that requires no religious blessing or other ritual observance, and a determination of the economic consequences of the inability to remarry. It is plainly not the kind of activity by a court that runs afoul of the "no entanglement" principle.


The appellant also contends that his rights under the Free Exercise Clause are violated by New York laws that effectively require him to give a get or "face a harsher distribution of property" (App't Br. 51). This argument is unsound for a number of reasons.

First, the appellant is not being subjected involuntarily, for the first time, to obligations of the Jewish faith. Whatever might be the merits of a Free Exercise claim by a person who had never previously knowingly taken any action that had consequences under Jewish religious law, the claim is not tenable when it comes from a party who has voluntarily subjected himself and his spouse to a religious marriage. The appellant is being asked only to undo what he voluntarily did in July 1991, when he married the respondent in a Jewish religious ceremony. Having entangled his spouse in a religious marriage, he cannot now hide behind the Free Exercise Clause when he is asked to resort to the same religious rules in order to release her.

Second, as we have previously noted, authorizing a get and having it delivered to his wife is not a religious act. Courts in other jurisdictions have held that participation in the get procedure is not a religious act and is, therefore, subject to the regulation of a secular court. Goldman v. Goldman, 554 N.E. 2d 1016, 1024 (Ill. App. 1990); Minkin v. Minkin, 434 A.2d 665, 667-68 (N.J. Super. 1981). Consequently, there is no Free Exercise right to be exempt from the court's jurisdiction in this regard.

Third, to the extent that the appellant is arguing that views of some authorities in Jewish Law would invalidate his get, he is improperly asking this Court to enter into an internal ecclesiastical dispute. See pp. 18-19, supra. The effect of the 1992 amendment on Jewish Law is a question to be decided within the religious community, and it should not affect a court decision on the issue of constitutionality.

This same flaw affects the concluding argument in appellant's brief (App't Br. 58-60). Appellant argues that the Equal Protection Clause is violated because the 1992 amendments "are halachically invalid" (App't Br. 59). There are, however, contrary views,(2) and the subject is not suitable for judicial determination. This Court surely cannot find the law unconstitutional because, in the view of some authorities, it is not halachically valid.


For the foregoing reasons, the judgment below should be affirmed.

Respectfully submitted,

2555 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
(202) 293-6400

135 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10020
(212) 641-8992

Attorneys for Amicus Curiae

September 1997


1. Indeed, even the writing or delivery of a get is not a religious act. It is not accompanied by any blessing or by any religious ceremony. A document is handwritten on the husband's authorization, is signed by two witnesses, and is delivered to the wife. See Goldman v. Goldman, 554 N.E. 2d 1016, 1024 (Ill. App.), appeal denied, 555 N.E. 2d 376 (Ill. 1990); Minkin v. Minkin, 434 A.2d 665, 667-68 (N.J. Super. 1981).

2. The subject was reviewed by the Supreme Court of Israel in Rosenzweig v. Administrator, 9 Piskei Din 1542 (1995). Justice Moshe Silberg, then the Court's expert on Talmudic Law, concluded that financial coercion on a husband is permissible under certain circumstances.

Page 1 of 1


Legal Briefs Index
Page 1 of 1