it’s extraordinary and sad to read reports of the alleged thuggery in the obtaining of divorce in the Jewish world. However, I cannot say I am surprised. In working on my book about agunot, Orthodox women whose husbands withhold divorces, often with extortionist demands or blackmailing threats, I know the resort to violence to be one aspect of the phenomenon. For those who want to see my work on this problem, you can read my article about an attempt to solve this problem with prenuptial agreements; my work on a woman whose husband works on Capitol Hill, for Rep. Dave Kamp (R-Mi.), and will not grant her a divorce; and my review of a book on this divorcer problem in Israel. You can also read about a New Haven woman who used a civil prenuptial agreement to get out of her marriage, when her husband initially refused (I did not write that last piece).
As it happens, I interviewed Mendel Epstein, the main rabbi arrested by the FBI, last January. I am busy transcribing that interview right now.