Abstract

Kidushin—betrothal—the central legal act that creates a binding relationship between a Jewish man and a Jewish woman, is ritually and legally a unilateral act, performed by the male participant, and the inequity of Jewish divorce law (the get process) is a function and mirror of this imbalance. In this article, I will consider and provide a halakhic analysis of the following questions: Can kidushin be reformed to become an egalitarian, or more egalitarian, process? Could we, from within the current halakhic structure, address and change the unilateral nature of kidushin and its undoing—divorce? If that is not possible, could Jewish law provide for, or at least accommodate, alternative means of marriage and divorce that sidestep kidushin? If so, what mechanisms might we find within the traditional legal sources for structuring an egalitarian marital commitment between two persons and for undoing such a commitment? What kind of ceremony would create such a commitment, and how would such marriage be terminated? I will survey a number of proposals, encountered in my research or through personal connections, that I believe offer plausible alternatives to kidushin and get, from both a legal and a ritual point of view.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1565-5288
Print ISSN
0793-8934
Pages
pp. 91-122
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-17
Open Access
No
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