International Agunah Day 2023

International Agunah Day is traditionally commemorated on Ta’anit Esther, the Fast of Esther, the day before Purim. This year, considering the current situation in Israel vis a vis the impending changes to the judiciary, we must be especially mindful of the plight of Agunot. It appears that the Beth Din in Israel will gain increased powers, which will disadvantage woman generally and Agunot in particular.

Jewish communities around the world recite the Mi She-Berach prayer for Agunot on Shabbat Zachor (the Shabbat before Purim), uniting with communities worldwide in praying for their welfare and freedom.

We cannot stand idly by while women are trapped in marriages against their will. We must increase awareness of this issue. We cannot overestimate the power of the community and our ability to unite, advocate and support.

Susie Ivany OAM,
Co – Chair Status of Women in Jewish Law

Prayer for Agunot

He Who Blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and our foremothers Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, may He remember and consider favorably all the women who are agunot and who are denied a writ of divorce (mesorvot get), help, shield and save them, and release them from their confinement to grant them a new life this day.

God who answers in times of trouble, who redeems and rescues in times of woe, may He answer the women who are bound in living widowhood, hear their outcries, and nullify the intentions of those husbands who refuse to give their wives a writ of divorce. For He is the God of all flesh, nothing is too wondrous for Him.

Our sisters, the daughters of Israel, who are in distress and bondage, may the Omnipresent One have mercy upon them, and deliver them from distress to relief, and from darkness to light.
May God who releases prisoners from their chains, place in the hearts of the judges of Israel the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and valor, the spirit of devotion and fear of God, that they may free from their fetters all the agunot and women who have been refused a writ of divorce by their husbands, so that the Divine Presence will rise from her dust since whoever frees one agunah it is as though he built one of the ruins of supernal Jerusalem.  And may the biblical verse be fulfilled in them, “And call upon Me on a day of distress, I will rescue you and you will honor Me” (Psalms 91:15).

May the King of Kings stand at their side, exalt them, bring them recovery and healing, and may they endure no more despair and brokenheartedness. And may they merit to establish faithful homes in Israel. Because this entire holy congregation is praying on their behalf; now, speedily, and at a near time, and let us say, Amen.

“Mi she-Berakh Prayer for Agunot and Women who are Denied a Writ of Divorce (mesorvot get)” was written by Dr. Yael Levine in the summer of 2006 and first published in the journal De’ot in advance of Purim 2007. The Hebrew version of the prayer was subsequently reprinted in the monumental Sefer ha-Shabbat, edited by Yonadav Kaploun and issued by Yediot Aharonot in 2011 (p. 260). The English translation was first published in The Jerusalem Post 16 March 2016