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New Documentary Gets Inside Issues of Jewish Divorce

New Documentary Gets Inside Issues of Jewish Divorce

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — February 10, 2012

For more information contact:

Betsy Gomberg
Spertus Director of Marketing & Communications or 312.322.1756


Chicago Film Premiere takes place
Sunday, March 11 at 2 pm at Spertus

Post-screening panel features filmmaker
and experts interviewed in the film

(CHICAGO) Spertus, Chicago’s center for Jewish learning and culture, presents the local premiere of Women Unchained, an important new documentary about the experiences of modern-day agunot, women whose husbands refuse to grant them a Jewish divorce. The screening takes place on Sunday, March 11 at 2 pm at Spertus, 610 S. Michigan Avenue.

Narrated by actress Mayim Bialik (Blossom, The Big Bang Theory), Women Unchained follows six women in their quest to receive a get, or Jewish divorce, from their husbands. The film interviews leading women’s rights advocates, rabbis, and experts in Jewish law. It explores the state of women’s rights in Judaism and details “get-o-nomics,” outlandish extortion schemes levied against some women.

At Spertus, the film’s Emmy-award-winning director, Beverly Siegel, will introduce the film and participate in a post-screening panel.

The panel will be led by Emily Soloff, Associate Director for Interreligious and Intergroup Relations for the American Jewish Committee, and will include eminent authority on halakha (Jewish law) Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz and international women’s rights lawyer Sharon Shenhav, both of whom are interviewed in the film, in addition to Ms. Siegel.

Rabbi Schwartz's opinion is frequently ought by both Jewish and secular sources on issues relating to Jewish law. He serves as the av beis din (head of the rabbinical court) of both the Beth Din of America and the Chicago Rabbinical Council. In 2002 he was appointed head of a three-judge panel which examined cases of agunot from the September 11 attacks, using DNA testing of remains to verify the death of their husbands.

Ms. Shenhav is the founder and director of the International Jewish Women's Rights Project, which seeks to end discrimination against women in marriage, divorce, and family law. She has been a member of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and currently serves as the only woman on the Commission to Appoint Religious Court Judges (Dayanim) in Israel.

Tickets for the screening and panel discussion are $18 ($8 for students) and can be purchased online at or by phone at 312.322.1773.

Beverly Siegel and co-producer Leta Lenik made Women Unchained as a way to increase awareness — and help find solutions — to the problem of women separated from their husbands but left in limbo without being able to move on or remarry. They see the film as a way for rabbis and laypersons, often pitted against each other on this issue, to hear each other’s points of view.

About the film’s topic, Beverly Siegel says, “The 'get' is a Jewish women's rights issue that knows no boundaries. Orthodox women are on the front lines of 'get' extortion, but Jewish women of all affiliations need to understand it to protect themselves and their daughters.”

Women Unchained, which premiered in March 2011 as the opening film of the Women and Religion Film Festival in Jerusalem, features an original score by guitarist C Lanzbom, lead singer of Soul Farm.

This program is the Norman Asher Memorial Lecture and the Alex and Klara Tulsky Symposium for 2012. Addressing pressing challenges facing the American Jewish community, it reflects the vision and communal interests of the donors of these long-standing endowed Spertus programs.

Discount parking for is available for $10 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, two blocks south of Spertus.

Spertus is a center for Jewish learning and culture that invites people of all backgrounds to explore the multifaceted Jewish experience. Spertus offers accredited graduate-level degree programs in areas that are critical to the Jewish and wider communities — including Jewish studies, leadership training, and nonprofit management. Recognizing that learning is sparked by many points of entry, programming at Spertus also includes cultural and continuing education offerings, such as lectures, seminars, exhibitions, concerts, and films.

For more information, visit

Spertus is a partner in serving the community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

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Women Unchained Screenshot Women Unchained Screenshot

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Image courtesy of The National Center for Jewish Film.


Beverley Siegel Film Director Beverley Siegel

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Emily Soloff Emily Soloff

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Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz

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Sharon Shenhav Sharon Shenhav

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