• Gett: The trial of Viviann Amsalem, 2014. (Courtesy Everett Collection)

    UNHAPPILY EVER AFTER

    Trapped In A Jewish Marriage

    Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem spends two dreary hours in a cramped courtroom, but this galling battle for a divorce can move audiences to outrage and grief.

    “It’s easy to blame the one who yells. The one who whispers venom is innocent.” This line is uttered with such disdain by Viviane Amsalem—played by Ronit Elkabetz with exquisite emotional restraint that allows for this perfect burst of contained anger—that it hits you like a sharp, fast switch to the face.

    By this point in Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, the title protagonist has been appearing before the beit din, rabbinic court, for years trying to obtain a gett, the Jewish divorce papers that a wife can only receive with her husband’s permission. Viviane can barely hold eye contact with her estranged—and that’s putting it mildly—husband, Elisha, who exudes the sliminess of a snake oil salesman with a dose of irritating cowardice thanks to Simon Abkarian (better known to American audiences as Alex Dimitrios from Casino Royale).

    Permalink
  • Shutterstock

    Femme Finance

    Divvying Up the Cash? Don't Hide a Thing

    Financial transparency is crucial to divorce in the digital era.

    A client I’ll call Blair was the stay-at-home wife of a highly successful corporate executive—call him Doug—who spent a great deal of time traveling on business. Doug’s frequent, prolonged absences may have been one reason their marriage was unraveling, but Blair found another when she noticed a charge on the couple’s AmEx bill for $2,799, paid at what she knew to be a very fashionable women’s clothing store in New York.

    Blair hadn’t been to New York in years, but Doug had been there precisely when the purchase was made. So Blair phoned AmEx customer service, identified herself as the joint holder of the account and the wife of the purchaser, and asked the agent to “remind” her what the transaction in New York was all about. It was for a single item, she was told: a Chanel clutch bag. Certainly a classic in the world of fashion accessories, but not exactly Doug’s sort of thing, and he clearly hadn’t bought it for his wife.

    Permalink
  • November/Corbis

    Get Me Out

    Israeli Women Stuck in Defunct Marriages

    One in five who seek divorce is rebuked.

    Divorce is hard to come by in Israel: to obtain it, both parties must consent and sign a religious document, called a get, for a rabbi. Many husbands refuse this rite, and when they do, the marriage cannot be dissolved. This applies to all Jewish Israelis: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox; religious and secular alike. This especially hurts women, and the process has been upheld “even in cases,” reports the L.A. Times, “where a man has abused his wife, disappeared, lied about his sexuality or molested their children.” However, in some cases when a husband flees, the court hires a spy to find him and place him in custody until he’ll agree to the divorce.

    Permalink