Getting a Get in Boston Is Not Like in the Movies

By Layah Kranz Lipsker

Published March 16, 2015, issue of March 12, 2015.

The recently released film, “GETT: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem,” focuses on Viviane’s painful divorce process in Israel’s Rabbinical courts. In most Rabbinical courts outside of Israel, however, the situation is vastly different.

I have been part of the Rabbinical Court team at the Boston Bet Din for several months now and have witnessed firsthand the determination of our local Rabbinate to ensure the dignity of women seeking a Get. My position there, sponsored by the newly formed Boston Agunah Taskforce, has enabled me to provide women with education and support throughout the Get process. Contrary to what you see in the film, the Boston Rabbis are compassionate and relentless in finding creative ways to assure the participation of both parties. Rabbi J. Polak, head of the Boston Rabbinical Court, recently told a woman that receiving a Get is testimony to the importance Judaism places on individual freedom.

Jewish law is called “Halacha,” which comes from the Hebrew word “to move.” Halacha is not static; it is a moving, breathing, body of law that has proven flexible enough to meet the needs of the modern world. I have faith in open-minded and compassionate leaders to help us navigate this growing problem in accordance with Jewish values. Our Boston Jewish community is leading the way by creating a position for a female presence within the Rabbinical Court, one of only three courts worldwide that provide this service. If you know of someone who is seeking a Get, please email me at, or find us online at

Layah Kranz Lipsker is a Jewish educator currently teaching at the Jewish Learning Institute and Eim Chai. She is the creator of, a website that supports women seeking Jewish divorce, and part of the newly formed Boston Agunah Taskforce. Layah is also co-founder and educational director at Chabad of the North Shore. She lives with her husband and six children in Swampscott.

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