The Wrong Poster Couple

Elizabeth Berney, an attorney, posts to my site about Friday’s Wall Street Journal column on Jewish divorces and women who can’t receive one:

The refusal of certain individuals to give (or accept) a “Get” (Jewish divorce) and spousal abuse are important issues, deserving of attention.  However, Ms. Bari Weiss’s highly inaccurate article, “A Religious Split” (Aug. 24, 2007), used the wrong couple as its example.  Amusingly, the article mis-described 40 year- old Ms. Susan Rosenfeld as “in her mid-30s.”  (I’m now hoping that my age will be listed as 29 if I’m ever mentioned in a WSJ story!)  However, the article’s false portrayal of Mr. Ariel HaCohen as abusive was not so amusing.  During the many years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen Ariel act with less than the utmost kindness, gentleness and respect towards Susan (and towards everyone else).  By contrast, I overheard Susan constantly scream at Ariel when Ariel attempted to speak on the telephone.  During their marriage, Ariel became severely disabled with a back injury.  Even with high doses of pain medication, he is still unable to sit up.  He was obviously not in the physical condition to turn anyone into a punching bag.  (Susan’s real motivation for divorcing Ariel seems to be his disability and its financial consequences.  Incidentally, contrary to her claim, I usually saw Susan wearing short sleeves.)  As for the Get, Susan and Ariel’s civil divorce is not yet final.  According to Jewish law, a valid Get can only be issued after the civil issues are finalized.  Susan is thus not an “agunah.”  Moreover, Susan continues to refuse Ariel’s offer to come to either of two highly respected Jewish courts from which a fair result to all concerned can be expected.  It is unfortunate that Weiss chose such an inappropriate poster couple for her article.


…Dear "Theda Bara,"
I am a long-time friend of Ariel and the HaCohen family.  Among other things, the family took care of me after I was in a car accident years ago.  When I saw the defamatory WSJ article on Friday (which seems to have been fed to its young author by Ms. Rosenfeld and/or her attorneys), I was so upset that I could not sleep that night.  Many others who know Ariel and his family and the marital situation are similarly upset at this horrible character assassination of a disabled, extremely gentle man.  I am a lawyer by profession – but I wrote as an observer who feels that the truth needs to be known.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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