Contemporary Activism to Save Agunot

An activist for agunot traces her development from demonstrator to promoter of prenuptial agreements that help protect women in the event of a divorce.

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I talked and wrote about MPAs everywhere I could, but the best place was brides' classes. But how could I possibly convince a starry-eyed engaged girl to sign an agreement about divorce just weeks before the big day? I used many arguments. Firstly, I pointed out, the ketubah [marriage contract] that many couples read under the huppah [marriage canopy] is a similar agreement, describing what financial provisions the husband promises in the event of divorce or widowhood, and no one balks at that! Secondly, each of us has a responsibility to our community. Just as on Yom Kippur we confess to sins we would never commit, acknowledging our responsibility for our fellow sinners, so too here with the MPA. If all marrying couples sign the agreement as a matter of course, no one will feel uncomfortable asking his or her spouse to do so, and the woman who will need it one day (and no one knows who that might be) will have it.

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Viva Hammer

Viva Hammer is a tax attorney in Washington, D.C. She was the co-founder and director of the Wedding Resource Center, which was established with the goal that no Jewish marriage take place without a Marriage Protection Agreement. She has written for The Washingtonian, Lilith, Jewish Action, Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and many other places.