TRENTON, N.J., May 23 (UPI) –
Four Orthodox Jewish rabbis allegedly involved in a scheme to force men to give their wives divorces have been charged with kidnapping, federal prosecutors say.
An indictment handed up Thursday charged Mendel Epstein, 68, of Lakewood, N.J.; Martin Wolmark, 56, of Monsey, N.Y.; Jay “Yaakov ” Goldstein, 60, of Brooklyn in New York City; and Binyamin Stimler, 38, also of Brooklyn, with a kidnapping conspiracy. David Epstein, 39, of Lakewood, Rabbi Epstein’s son, was also named as a defendant.
Under Orthodox Jewish law, women must receive a document known as a “get” for a divorce to be valid. This can leave ex-wives in limbo, divorced under civil law but unable to contract a marriage recognized by their religion.
The five were arrested in October at a warehouse in Middlesex, N.J., after an undercover FBI investigation. They allegedly planned to hold recalcitrant husbands at the warehouse, torturing them with cattle prods.
Four men, including two of Goldstein’s sons, have pleaded guilty in the case.