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Last Editedkarin1492  Mar 27, 2012 10:43am
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News DateTuesday, March 27, 2012 04:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionRep. Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is Roman Catholic, and he represents a district, the Michigan 4th, with few Jews. But as anyone with access to Twitter, Facebook, or the rest of the Internet can learn, Rep. Camp has a big Jewish problem. And it’s one he may be powerless to solve.

The congressman is under attack because of his aide, Aharon Friedman, an Orthodox Jewish graduate of Harvard Law School. Friedman has been legally divorced from another Orthodox Jew, Tamar Epstein, since 2010—but has refused to give his ex-wife a get. In Orthodox Judaism, this is the document that a man must give to his wife in order for a religious divorce to go into effect. So long as Friedman refuses to give a get, Epstein cannot remarry within the faith and is considered an agunah, or chained wife.

Epstein’s limbo status has sparked an outcry in the Orthodox world. The chained wife has been a problem throughout Jewish history—inspiring much literature, including a classic Yiddish novel—and in the last decade Jewish women’s activists have made progress in spreading awareness of the agunah’s plight. Epstein’s supporters include a bunch of especially Internet-savvy New Yorkers in their 20s who have turned their attention on Rep. Camp. Insisting that Friedman’s conduct amounts to domestic abuse, they have used the Internet, including social media and the petition site change.org, and the national media to demand that Rep. Camp pressure Friedman to religiously divorce Epstein.
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