Synopsis by Mark Deming
While Israel is a modern nation that's part of the 21st century, in many respects it is still a country bound by religious orthodoxy, and there are few areas in which this is more evident than in Israeli's laws regarding divorce. In Israel, a woman is unable to obtain a divorce without the consent of her husband, regardless of mitigating factors such as spousal abuse or criminal behavior. Until a man gives his consent, a separation cannot become a divorce, leaving many Israeli women in a legal and moral limbo where they cannot remarry, establish their own financial arrangements, or even date until their often-missing spouses deign to agree. Filmmaker Anat Zuria profiles three woman trapped by Israel's Draconian divorce laws in this documentary. Tamara left her husband, who frequently beat her, and before she left he took her savings; now she struggles to support herself with her limited resources. Rachel is a radio producer specializing in religious programming who is struggling to negotiate the Byzantine Israeli divorce court system. And Michelle is trying to feed and care for her three children after her husband left her; paradoxically, while he's living with another woman who has given him children, he is still unwilling to grant Michelle a divorce. Zuria also interviews Reut Giat, a female rabbi who helps women struggling with the divorce system and is also an activist for changes in Israeli family law. Mekudeshet (aka Sentenced to Marriage) received its North American premiere as part of the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival.