September 14, 2019

Protesters Descend on Local Shivah Home of Man Who Refuses to Issue Wife a Get

Protesters outside Kin’s parents’ home on Aug. 23. Photo by Ryan Torok

On the morning of Aug. 23, Meir Kin and his siblings were sitting shivah for their recently deceased mother. But outside their home in the Fairfax district, close to 30 people gathered, determined to disrupt the quiet surrounding the house of mourning.

The protesters, shouting “Meir Kin, Stop the Abuse!” included Rabbis Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David-Judea and Kalman Topp of Beth Jacob Congregation, and Shalhevet High School students, among others. They were there to denounce Kin’s refusal to give his ex-wife, Lonna Kin, a get (Jewish divorce decree.)

The conflict between Kin, a physician’s assistant who now lives in Las Vegas, and Lonna, a real estate broker in Monsey, N.Y., has been going on for 15 years. The couple received a civil divorce in 2007, but to date Kin has refused to issue Lonna a get, which under rabbinic law can only be given by the male spouse. 

Even though Kin remarried in 2014, Lonna remains an agunah (chained woman), making it impossible for her to remarry under Jewish law. 

At Kin’s second wedding, members of the local Modern Orthodox community traveled to Las Vegas to protest. At the time, Kin claimed he had entered into the new marriage through heter meah rabbanim (the permission of 100 rabbis).

The issue of agunot, and the Kins’ case in particular, returned to the spotlight after Kin’s 81-year-old mother died on Aug. 18. The Kin family sent her body to Israel to be buried but Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau refused to move forward with the burial until Kin provided Lonna with a get. 

 “This is a case in which Jewish law is being mocked, ridiculed, dragged through the mud.”— Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky 

Kin allegedly agreed to Lau’s terms and his mother was buried in Israel. However, shortly thereafter, Kin said in a video posted on Aug. 22 on YouTube that he never made any agreement with Lau.

“The rabbinate … publicized that they withheld burial of my mother for reasons relating to a get and because of that I changed my mind and agreed to give a get immediately,” Kin said in the video. “This is all fake news. No one from the rabbinate … contacted me and nobody agreed to any conditions.”

Kin concluded the video by stating, “You should know that a get has been waiting for my wife for over 10 years at the Beit Din of Shaarey Mishpat [in Monsey].”

Kin made the same claim over a decade ago. The Journal covered the story in 2009, and then assistant director of the New York-based Organization for the Resolution for Agunot (ORA), Rabbi Jeremy Stern, told the Journal that particular beit din (Jewish court of law), run by Rabbi Tzvi Dov Abraham, is “universally reviled as extortionist.” 

WATCH: Protesters Chant, “Meir Kin, Stop the Abuse!”

And so, protesters in Los Angeles showed up early at the shivah house on Aug. 23 — around 7:30 a.m. — with Los Angeles Police Department officers arriving on the scene to ensure the protests remained peaceful.

Protesters pleaded with the mourners as they came and went from the shivah house. “What if it was your daughter?” one man asked. Later, the sprinklers on the front lawn came on, pushing the demonstrators farther back from the property. 

Outside the home, Kanefsky told the Journal, “This is a case in which Jewish law is being mocked, ridiculed, dragged through the mud. If you care about the integrity of Jewish law, it’s an outrageous abuse of everything we hold sacred.”

Speaking to the Journal by phone from Monsey, Lonna Kin said she was heartened that people in L.A. were taking up her cause.

“I am a symbol of other women, other women like me who are also waiting and suffering,” she said. “My reaction [to the demonstration] is mixed emotions, basically. I appreciate someone would go to those lengths to do that for someone else.”