Gittin – Jewish Divorce
Under Jewish law, couples who separate and then civilly divorce are not permitted to remarry until they receive a GET (writ). The Jewish divorce procedure is performed in accordance with the relevant Halachic rules governing the divorce system.
The members of the Beth Din are acutely aware of the emotional challenges of divorce and do their utmost to serve all parties involved with sensitivity and compassion.
In the following paragraphs, we endeavor to explain the basic concepts and steps of a GET.
Registration for a GET
The GET is written specifically for the couple that is to be divorced, by the husband or his appointed agent, for this purpose. This agent, called the scribe, is chosen before the Beth Din and must verbally express his intention to write the GET for the couple.
At the first contact with the secretary of the Beth Din, various questions will be asked, which may include whether a divorce agreement regarding finance or child custody has been reached. Additionally, questions may be asked pertaining to how long the couple has been separated and whether they have been in contact with a Rabbi or if they have tried counselling. A request may be made by a Beth Din representative that the parties meet with one of the judges to explore the possibility for reconciliation.
Once it has become clear to the secretary of the Beth Din that their divorce decision is final, an appointment for the enactment of the GET will be arranged. The process of a GET takes at least two hours and it is incumbent upon all parties to be available during this time.
To open a file, an application for a GET must be downloaded and completed in writing by each party. Application
The application must be emailed along with a current photo of each party. These items should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One cannot email the above address for an appointment. This can only be done by calling the Beth Din directly (514.739.6363). At the appointed time for the enactment of the GET, both parties must appear at the Beth Din at the appointed time.
When the couple presents themselves at the appointment, the following items should be prepared:
1) A current and valid photo ID of each party, i.e. Driver’s license, passport, or Medicare card
2) The Ketuba (Jewish marriage document).
The regular fee for a GET is $800.00 payable prior to the GET commencing. However, various circumstances may alter this amount.
The name of both the man and the woman, in addition to their father’s names, must be clearly detailed as well as any additional nicknames, terms of endearment or shortened names.
As well, the Rabbinical judges will require the names of how the person is called up to the Torah.
Importance is placed upon the exact pronunciation of the names. All of this is required to ensure that the correct name of both parties appears in the GET. At this point the Beth Din will request photo ID (i.e. identity documents) of the parties.
Out of respect for the Orthodox Rabbis involved in the process, modest attire is requested and a yarmulke must be worn during the process.
Basic Procedure Overview
Besides the husband and the wife, three Rabbinical judges, two witnesses and the scribe who writes the GET will be present.
At times, a secretary of the Beth Din is also in attendance. Should the parties wish to be accompanied by an additional person or friend during the GET procedure, they are welcome to do so. The process is over when the husband places the GET in his wife’s cupped hand.
Giving the Get of One’s Own Free Will
An important condition of the GET is that it must be executed with the free will of both parties. Forcing any of the parties to give or receive the GET may affect the validity of the document.
It is with this point in mind that the Rabbinical judges will ask questions of the parties to clarify that the GET is being handed over and received by the respective parties of their own free will without any compulsion, forced divorce contract or agreement, or court order.
The Rabbinical judges will ask the participants whether any oaths or promises were made to give or not to give the GET. To avoid the possibility of an oath having been made and the parties having forgotten that they may have made the oath, the Beth Din will annul all oaths that may have been made.
Furthermore, the husband will be asked to annul any statement that may have been stated which may affect the validity of the GET.
Appointing the Scribe & Witnesses
It is incumbent upon the husband to write the GET. However, as only an expert scribe knows how to do this, it is necessary that a scribe be appointed as a messenger of the husband to write the Get.
Included in this precept is that all writing equipment, instruments and paper must belong to the husband.
The scribe will thereafter take the paper and all writing instruments and give them as a gift to the husband, who will then lift these above his head, showing that he has acquired them and that they now belong to him. The husband will hand the items, instruments, equipment, as well as the paper to the scribe in order that the GET be written on that paper and with items that belong to the husband.
The husband will then appoint the witnesses to sign the GET on his behalf, as well as instruct the witnesses that they witness him handing over the GET to the wife.
Writing the Get
Writing of the GET takes approximately 1 hour. The couple will be asked to wait outside the chamber of the Beth Din, until the GET has been completed and signed. During this time, the parties should remain on the premises of the Beth Din and should refrain from any discussion pertaining to the GET between themselves or with anyone else lest anything being said affect the validity of the GET.
On very rare occasions, the writing of the GET can take somewhat longer. The parties are requested to exercise patience until they are called into the Beth Din for the handing over of the GET.
Handing Over the Get
The final step in the process is for the husband to hand the GET to the wife.
When the parties return to the inner chamber of the Beth Din, the woman will be asked a few questions, enabling the Beth Din to confirm that she is willing to accept the GET. The husband will also be asked to revoke anything which he may have said, which may affect the Kosher status of the GET.
The couple are asked to face one another in the presence of the two witnesses and the Beth Din. The woman removes all rings and jewelry from her hands and lifts up her sleeves slightly so that they won’t interfere with her receiving of the GET. She then stretches out her hands next to each other with the palms facing upwards.
The husband will say a few words whilst the GET is being held in his hand, above her hands. Once the husband has recited the obligatory sentences, declaring that his wife is divorced from him, he will place the GET carefully in her hand.
Whilst the husband is going through this process the woman remains facing him. She does not offer any assistance to receive the GET. Once called upon, the woman will then close her hands, cupping the GET between them and lifting it over her head indicating she has taken ownership. (This is called a Kinyan in Hebrew. It is an act in which something that was foreign to you now belongs to you.)
After accepting the GET, she will be required to walk a few steps with the Get positioned under her arm and then return to place the GET on the table. Again, this is to show that she has taken full ownership of the get.
The original GET document remains with the Beth Din. Both parties will receive a certificate confirming that they are divorced under Jewish law. All three members of the Beth Din sign this certificate in addition to the parties themselves.
Following the divorce, there are two restrictions that the woman must uphold. She may not marry a Kohen and she cannot remarry for 91 days.
If you have any questions, need emotional support or wish to review the process, we encourage you to contact your rabbi. If you do not have a rabbi, we will contact one of the Rabbis to assist you and/or provide support.
May Hashem give you the strength and fortitude to put this period behind you and start a new chapter in your lives, looking forward to a bright and happy future.