A couple of Jewish rabbis are accused of pressuring Orthodox Jewish men into granting their unhappy wives a divorce in accordance with religious law, by violent means when necessary.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed today, four New Jersey men, including at least two rabbis, were arrested for coercing Jewish men into allowing their wives to divorce them. In the words of one clever Farker:
“According to Orthodox Jewish law, a woman cannot obtain a divorce unless her husband consents. But there’s nothing in the Torah that says the husband can’t be “persuaded” to consent by baseball bat-wielding rabbis.
Rabbis Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark are set to appear in federal court in Trenton on conspiracy charges after they were caught on tape with undercover agents posing as a wife who wanted a divorce and her brother. Epstein allegedly told the agents that they had ways of dealing with uncooperative husbands.
“Mendel Epstein talked about forcing compliance through the use of ‘tough guys’ who utilize electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and place plastic bags of the heads of husbands,” said FBI Special Agent Bruce Kamerman.
The rabbi even “claimed that his organization kidnapped one recalcitrant husband approximately every year or year and a half,” said the complaint.
“I guarantee you that if you’re in the van, you’d give a ‘get’ to your wife. You probably love your wife, but you’d give a ‘get’ when they finish with you… And hopefully there won’t even be a mark on him,” Epstein said, according to the complaint.
The arrests are actually the result of a lengthy investigation that started over two years ago in the ultra-Orthodox Lakewood, New Jersey, reports ABC News. Agents worked tirelessly to penetrate the highly secretive community that doesn’t work with law enforcement authorities under threat of excommunication.
Still, the rabbi “thugs” justify that due to strict religious laws that only allow a man to divorce in the case of an unhappy marriage, abuse is commonplace. Women become desperate because they’re unable to escape sometimes-abusive situations and start fresh.