Trenton, NJ- New Jersey Rabbi David Wax, the mastermind behind a plan to kidnap and threaten an Israeli man into granting his wife an Orthodox Jewish divorce called a “get,” pleaded guilty Tuesday to several federal charges Tuesday and now faces life in prison.
In the Orthodox Jewish world, a woman is not allowed to be with another man or re-marry for the rest of her life unless her husband presents her with divorce documents otherwise she will be labeled an adulterer. Only men can request a divorce and, for whatever reasons, some spouses refuse to grant a “get,” thus leaving their spouse in a sort of limbo with no chance of finding a more suitable partner. One New Jersey family feared this was the fate of their daughter so they enlisted the help of Rabbi David Wax to forcibly obtain the “get.”
According to the federal indictment, Wax, 51, was paid $100,000 by the woman’s family to obtain divorce documents from the Israeli man whose identity has not been revealed. Wax enlisted the help of others who were paid $50,000 for their participation. And what he and his thugs did to obtain the “get” sounds like plot line from a gangster film, proving once again that life is truly stranger than fiction.
In October of 2010, Wax went to pick up the Israeli man from his cousin’s house in Brooklyn where he was staying after immigrating to the U.S. under the pretense of getting help with Talmudic books that Wax was publishing, the complaint said.
Once the men arrived to Wax’s home in Lakewood, New Jersey, he lured the husband upstairs where he was bound and forced to lie down on the floor face-first where he was covered with a body bag. The complaint alleges that Wax and the tough guys he hired beat the husband for several hours. The men also threatened to bury the husband somewhere in if he didn’t sign the “get” and grant custody of the couple’s children to the wife, the New Jersey Star Ledger reported.
After several hours of torture, Wax’s wife drove the man back to Brooklyn. She is also facing charges, but her case is still pending.
The man finally relented to the “get” but Wax wasn’t done with the threats. The Rabbi called the husband’s father in Israel and told him to transfer $100, 000 to the wife’s family otherwise he would get a bullet to the head.
Wax was charged in 2011 after and FBI investigation. He is due to be sentenced in August and faces life in prison along with a $250,000 fine.
Obtaining a “get” is complicated if one spouse refuses is possible but very difficult. It’s not something your typical divorce attorney can help with since it is handled within in rabbinical courts. However once a divorce is granted, a divorce lawyer will be instrumental in obtaining a favorable divorce settlement and child custody arrangements.