Criminal Justice

NJ Rabbi and Wife Charged with Kidnapping Man in Effort to Force Religious Divorce

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A New Jersey rabbi and his wife are facing federal kidnapping charges after allegedly luring an Israeli man to their home in an effort to force him to grant his wife a religious divorce.

The claimed victim, Yisrael Briskman, was the subject of a High Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem ruling in 2008. It severely restricted his participation in the Jewish community, because he refused to give his wife a “get,” a religious divorce that permits her to remarry in the Orthodox faith, reports the Associated Press.

David Wax, 49, and Judy Wax, 47, allegedly went beyond the shunning anticipated in the Jerusalem ruling, and are accused of luring Briskman to their Lakewood home, where he was allegedly threatened and, according to the New York Post, beaten by “goons,” in an effort to force him to give his wife the religious divorce.

David Wax is accused of telling Briskman he would be buried alive if he didn’t give his wife the get and showing him a body bag. He also allegedly made a death threat to Briskman’s father, in a recorded international telephone call demanding that Briskman’s wife be paid $100,000.

Lawyers for both defendants say they will plead not guilty and David Wax’s attorney says he is married, with eight children, and has no prior record. Each was released on $500,000 bond following a hearing in federal court in Trenton.

“He has no history of any criminal or violent behavior,” says his lawyer, Mitchell Ansell. “We are confident, when all the facts are made public, he will be cleared of all the charges and his good and honorable name restored,” the Asbury Park Press reports.

CNN and Reuters also have stories.

Related coverage: “Tax Counsel to House Panel Is Targeted in Protest for Refusing Ex-Wife a Religious Divorce”

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