Rabbi Mendel Epstein’s heart may have been in the right place when he tried to help Jewish women get a divorce from their unwilling husbands. However, the methods he allegedly used to “convince” the husbands to consent to the divorce have placed him on the wrong side of the law.
In Orthodox Jewish communities, a divorce will not be recognized unless the husband provides the wife with a “get.” If the husband refuses to provide the get, the Jewish couple can be divorced through the state court system, but they will remain married in the eyes of Jewish law.
With nowhere else to go for help in acquiring a get, an unknown number of Jewish women turned to Rabbi Epstein to apply his particular set of skills. Prosecutors allege that the Rabbi’s team used brutal methods and tools, including handcuffs and an electric cattle prod to torture the husbands into granting divorces. The Rabbi, who is based in Lakewood, New Jersey, charged as much as $60,000 for each effort. He was arrested in 2013 after offering his services to two undercover FBI agents.
Rabbi Epstein’s trial commenced on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 in the Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton, New Jersey. He has been charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping.
Blog authored by Kelsey Mulholland, Esq.