Herd mentality is an interesting thing. It basically describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, or purchase certain items. While typically anthropologists thought of this as a survival instinct – i.e. people in groups who espouse common goals may survive longer in pre-industrialized society – it has gotten a bad reputation more recently. Think about when your teenager comes home and asks you to buy her the $100 pair of boots that she just saw 10 other friends wearing – this is herd mentality – and you probably hate it.
But think about the flip side. Humans have a need to fit in with their surroundings and with one another; to be an accepted part of a community. This need could also encourage socially advantageous and morally accepted behaviors.
When I heard late Wednesday night that Avrohom Meir Weiss, the man responsible for Gital Dodelson’s status as an Agunah – a chained woman who has yet to receive a “Get” to grant her religious divorce – finally gave Gital a Get, herd mentality came to mind – but in a good way.
In the first articles that broke about the story on Wednesday, the victory was attributed to the community pressure that was unrelentingly placed on Mr. Weiss to give Gital her Get.
Shira Dicker, the publicist who has worked with the Dodelson family in their public campaign to compel Weiss to give the Get agreed. “The community pressure really just began to multiply, and then something changed,” Dicker stated.
It is clear that in Weiss’ close-knit Orthodox community, the pressure was a great motivator, and perhaps in the end, was the primary motivator in his decision to finally give Gital her long-awaited Get.
Dicker said Dodelson will continue to advocate for the Agunot that still remain in the Orthodox Jewish communities. Gital may be able to take lessons from her own story and use them to channel herd mentality to aid in her cause.
“The family wants to remain as agunah advocates,” Dicker said. “It doesn’t end with Gital’s get.”