N.Y. woman sues rabbis over confidentiality breach

After she filed for a civil divorce in February 1996 and sought custody of her four children, the rabbis revealed her secrets to her husband's lawyers, according to her lawsuit.

Judge David Goldstein refused to dismiss the civil suit against Rabbis Tzvi Flaum and David Weinberger.

"No member of the clergy…would dare breach the sanctity of his or her office to make public the type of confidential, private disclosures at issue in this case," the judge wrote in a ruling released Thursday of last week.

"Moreover, to do so under the guise of religious necessity, conviction or the protection of the Torah is not only wrong, it is outrageous."

Flaum and Weinberger were said to have provided written statements to the husband's lawyers that Chani Lightman had stopped monthly visits to the mikvah for ritual purification.

She also told Flaum, according to the affidavit he submitted to the court, that she had seen another man socially.

The rabbis' lawyer, Frank Snitow, said he will appeal the ruling. Snitow contends that the rabbis had a religious obligation to share the information with the divorce court, because it dealt with Chani Lightman's ability to raise the children in accordance with Orthodox law and customs.

While the Lightman divorce is pending, a judge has granted her husband, Dr. Hylton Lightman, temporary child custody.

Her husband has refused to give her a get, a religious divorce required under Jewish law.

Chani Lightman, a 38-year-old nurse, told the New York Post that she had been betrayed by the rabbis and estranged from the Orthodox community.

"I don't exist anymore. I'm invisible. I feel like I'm dead," she said. "I don't have a life now."