Press Release

Sacred Support: Eastern Orthodox churches back Jewish school in court battle NJ Supreme Court will decide if Jewish school can select faithful teachers without government interference

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – A group of Eastern Orthodox Churches will be at the Supreme Court of New Jersey next week to support an Orthodox Jewish school’s freedom to choose who carries out its religious mission. In Hyman v. Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey, an Orthodox Jewish school announced it had parted ways with a rabbi who the Yeshiva said violated Jewish law by engaging in inappropriate conduct with his elementary-age female students. The rabbi then sued the school, arguing that he had been defamed. Becket filed a brief on behalf of Serbian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, and Antiochian Orthodox Church bodies to explain the importance of allowing religious groups to select, control, and discipline their leaders without the government butting in.  

Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey is a Jewish day school in River Edge, NJ. The school exists to help young Jewish men and women excel academically while remaining committed to Torah learning and Orthodox Jewish traditions. After concluding that one of its teachers, Rabbi Shlomo Hyman, allegedly made inappropriate contact with female students, the school ended his contract and wrote a letter to parents informing them of the Yeshiva’s decision. Hyman then filed a lawsuit in state court, claiming he was defamed, and that the Yeshiva should have to defend its religious decision to a state judge and jury.  

Becket’s brief explains which kinds of lawsuits are subject to the ministerial exception, a First Amendment protection that ensures that religious groups can select and govern their ministers free from any government interference. While some kinds of cases fall outside the exception—like a priest who sues a bishop for punching him in the face—it protects religious groups from defamation claims like those alleged by Rabbi Hyman, which do nothing more than ask a court to second-guess how a religious school chose to discipline one of its ministers. At the hearing next week, Becket attorney Laura Wolk Slavis will argue the case on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox churches. 

Oral Argument in Hyman v. Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey

Arguing before the court:
Laura Wolk Slavis, counsel at Becket for amici curiae 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024, at 10 a.m. ET

Supreme Court of New Jersey
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex, 25 Market Street, 8th Floor
Trenton, NJ 08611

Becket attorneys will be available for comment following the hearing. 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.