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Orthodox Jews Look to Prenuptial Contracts

March 16, 2012

A superb article for the New York Times. 

By MARK OPPENHEIMER

Extract: “During a discussion after “Women Unchained,” Ms. Siegel urged Jewish couples to sign the prenuptial agreement devised 20 years ago by the Beth Din of America, a leading Orthodox religious court Couples who sign the Beth Din of America halakhic prenuptial agreement — “halakhah” means Jewish law — agree to have all religious aspects of their divorce decided by a Jewish court. More important, the husband agrees that if the couple separates, he will pay his wife $150 per day until they are religiously divorced, adjustable for inflation. In other words, he will support his wife until he gives her a get.There are many versions of the religious prenuptial agreement, but the one promoted by the Beth Din of America, which is based in New York, seems most widely used. Asked how many couples sign the agreement, Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann, the court’s director, said not enough.n 2006, the Rabbinical Council of America, a separate organization affiliated with the Beth Din of America, passed a resolution encouraging rabbis not to perform a wedding without a halakhic prenuptial agreement. About two years ago, Rabbi Weissmann said, a Beth Din of America survey found that about 70 percent of its affiliated rabbis required or encouraged couples to use the document.There certainly are segments of the Orthodox Jewish community that have not embraced it,” Rabbi Weissmann said. “When we talk about wedding practices, these are ancient and sacred practices, and when you start tinkering with them, people start getting nervous.”

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