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Four rabbis indicted : Mendel Epstein, Martin Wolmark, Binyamin Stimler and Jay Goldstein
Four Rabbis Indicted in Brutal Jewish-Divorce Scheme

Four rabbis indicted : Mendel Epstein, Martin Wolmark, Binyamin Stimler and Jay Goldstein

Four Orthodox Jewish rabbis and one of their sons conspired to kidnap and force Jewish men into granting their wives religious divorces, according to a federal indictment handed up on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said several of the men charged Thursday are among a larger group previously charged in the alleged plot.

Rabbi Mendel Epstein and his son, David Epstein, both of Lakewood, New Jersey, Rabbi Martin Wolmark of Monsey, New York, and Rabbis Jay Goldstein and Binyamin Stimler, both of Brooklyn, New York, are charged with kidnapping conspiracy and related charges.

The U.S. attorney’s office alleges the rabbis charged Jewish women and their families tens of thousands of dollars to obtain religious divorces, known as “gets,” from unwilling husbands through the threat of force.

According to documents filed in the case, David Epstein and Jay Goldstein were being investigated by the FBI after an undercover investigation found that they were involved in kidnapping and assaulting Orthodox Jewish men to force them to grant “gets.”

According to the New South Wales Board of Jewish Education, a civil divorce alone is not valid in Jewish law and any future marriage of either partner will not be recognized within Judaism. Therefore, without a “get,” a Jewish person cannot remarry within Judaism, and any children conceived through future unions would be considered the offspring of adultery.

During the investigation, Mendel Epstein and Wolmark were recorded by an undercover agent on Aug. 14, 2013. In the face-to-face conversation, they were allegedly discussing plans to kidnap and torture particular targets by trapping them in a van and assaulting them with an electric cattle prod, according to the documents.

Authorities tracked down additional phone calls between the group that discussed tactics and payment plans for the operation. Mendel Epstein and Jay Goldstein were also seen at a warehouse in Middlesex, a place they planned to hold the victims. On Oct. 9, 2013, the group was seen traveling from New York to the warehouse in an attempt to execute the kidnapping.

The group arrived at the warehouse around 8 p.m. when they entered the establishment with one of the undercover agents. Among the group, they carried rope, surgical blades, a screwdriver, plastic bags, and items to be used to ceremonially record a “get.”

Before they could begin, law enforcement entered the warehouse and arrested the eight-man team, including the undercover agent.

Each count the defendants face carries a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. All five of the Rabbis are facing charges that could sentence them to life in prison.

On May 6, New Jersey Rabbi David Wax pleaded guilty to conspiring to kidnap an Israeli man to coerce him to consent to a “get.” According to court documents, a woman’s family paid Wax approximately $100,000 to force her husband to issue his wife a religious divorce.

The Rabbinical Assembly, the international member organization for Conservative
rabbis, said the following in a statement following Wax’s plea: “The Rabbinical
Assembly condemns the actions of [rabbis who engage in] kidnapping and
extortion…Judaism embodies many examples of how we can both preserve tradition and
[peacefully] resolve fundamental problems that affect people’s lives, including
personal status issues such as marriage and divorce…It is the duty of Jewish
communities to affirm the priority of human dignity within our tradition.”

Agencies/Canadajournal




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    2 comments

    1. These people distort Jewish law and are a threat to it. Since Takanas Rabbeinu Gershom, over 1,000 years ago, both men and women can refuse a divorce because marriage is sacred and should be protected. These are criminals and Rav Elyashiv Of Blessed Memory and now Rav Chaim Kanievsky, may he live long, and the Eida HaChareidis have ruled that such coerced divorces are invalid and the children of such second marriages could be mamzerim. Epstein is nothing more than a thug who has disgraced Judaism in ways that Judaism’s worst enemy could not. The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot and their leader Hershel Schachter have done similar things, in tandem with the Beth Din of America, both are being investigated by the FBI, together with a so-called rabbi in the South, Rabbi David Lehrfield, whose gittin have been ruled to be highly questionable and his conversions are not accepted. (the local rabbonim advise using Rabbi Mendel Senderovic, Rabbi Twersky’s Rosh Kollel, who travels to the South every month instead). Schachter and Lehrfield are facing similar investigations and have been derided as having broken the foundations of Jewish religious law.

    2. Another example of the toll religion takes on society.

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