Protesters urge Maryland man to grant his wife a Jewish divorce

About 50 people rallied in front of a United States House of Representatives office building to protest a government employee’s refusal to grant his wife a Jewish divorce.

Aharon Friedman from Maryland, who works in the Longworth Office building as a senior advisor to Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), has refused to grant his ex-wife, Tamar Epstein, a Jewish divorce, or get, although they have been separated since 2008.

The two were divorced in civil court in April 2010 but Epstein cannot remarry in a Jewish ceremony and is considered a chained woman, or aguna, until she is granted a get.

Friedman has said his wife moved with their 5-year-old daughter to outside of Philadelphia without notice, and also has noted that an initial custodial agreement necessitated his violating the Jewish sabbath. The court has since amended that agreement.

Friedman also has alleged that he was attacked last July after returning his daughter to his wife's custody. Police are investigating that incident.

For slightly more than an hour on Feb. 28, the protesters waved signs and chanted slogans in support of Epstein. The group consisted of at least three rabbis as well as about 20 seniors from Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Md.

Also protesting was Epstein’s mother who said her daughter “is a remarkably strong young woman with very deep faith, and she has the capacity to go through with this without allowing it to affect her.” She also noted that her granddaughter is doing “amazingly well” even though she has “has grown up all her life with this.”

Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, led the rally and used a microphone to get the group to recite such slogans as “Aharon Friedman give Tamar a get” and “Aharon Friedman shame on you.”

Stern vowed to hold as many rallies as necessary until Friedman relents. Last September, his organization sponsored a large billboard featuring Friedman’s face and the words “Aharon Friedman Give A Get Now” in a metro train station near where he lives.