For decades different versions have circulated, the most prominent being the Heskem L'kavod Hadadi, the Agreement for Mutual Respect, published in 2000 by Rachel Levmore and rabbis Elyashiv Knohl and David Ben-Zazzon.
Levmore is a rabbinical court advocate and the coordinator of the Agunah and Get-Refusal Prevention Project for the International Young Israel Movement in Israel and the Jewish Agency.
literally wrote the book on halachic prenups: Spare Your Eyes Tears: Complete Guide to Orthodox Jewish Pre-Nuptial Agreements (Hebrew), published in 2009 by Mosdot Ariel.
That book, Levmore
said, "was sent to 1,000 rabbis - all the Tzohar rabbi members at the time, marriage registrars, all the roshei yeshivot of hesder mechinot, midrashot, as well as all the judges in the Family Court, in the Supreme Court, ministers and members of Knesset and professors and university libraries."
But for nine years before that, the Agreement for Mutual Respect was disseminated "from the bottom up," she
"It was publicized, put up on the Internet and it worked," she
told the Post, noting that couples were able to decide autonomously if they wanted to sign it, and many did.
"We knew that this was completely halachic - we had taken it quietly to two dayanim [judges] in the Supreme Rabbinical Court," Levmore
two co-authors knew that, at least back in 2000, Israel's most prominent rabbis "are inherently conservative with a small 'c,' and they wouldn't relate to the question from a pure halachic stance."
At the time, Levmore recalls, she
knew - somewhat presciently - that it would take 15 years "to make its way into the rabbinic establishment, that it will recognize and do something about it - and I was right."
So the effort continued for years as a grassroots project; Levmore
lectured widely "in any venue, all over the world," to spread awareness.
"Young people started signing it, and as a result they started talking to their rabbis who were organizing their weddings," she
"At first the Israeli rabbis were extremely... - "reticent" is a mild word, because they didn't understand anything about it, and they didn't know anything about it."
The tide started to turn, she
said, as her
book gained a wider audience, and more couples were bringing along prenuptial agreements to their rabbis.
In 2009, Tzohar
embarked on the journey to create its own document.
"Many, many Tzohar rabbis were signing couples on the Heskem L'kavod Hadadi," Levmore
worked with rabbis from Tzohar
on the draft, she
says the final version is "OK, it's not the best, but it's OK" and certainly better than the organization's earlier drafts.
realizes the Agreement for Mutual Respect doesn't solve 100 percent of aguna problems, she
sees it as the best current solution.
"What the Heskem L'kavod Hadadi does is that it brings the couple to communicate," she