New Jersey school faces off with teacher in legal battle



(The Center Square) – A Jewish school has been taken to the New Jersey Supreme Court fighting a legal challenge that could have significant implications for religious schools.

A New Jersey Orthodox Jewish school fired a teacher it said broke practices of the faith when interacting with female students. The teacher, Shlomo Hyman, sued the school saying he had been defamed.

The court heard arguments this week and is considering religious schools’ right to choose its ministers and teachers. If the case is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, it could have major implications for religious schools.

“New Jersey courts have no business meddling in decisions about who is best to serve as a Jewish Rabbi or an Orthodox Christian priest,” Laura Slavis, a lawyer at Becket, a religious liberty legal group working on the case, said in a statement. “This bedrock religious freedom has existed since the founding and should not even be in question.”

The ministerial exception, a provision that codifies religious schools’ right to choose ministers that are aligned with their beliefs, is a provision Hyman says does not apply to him since he filed a civil misconduct claim.

A ruling is anticipated later this year.

A group of Eastern Orthodox churches weighed in to the court on the side of the Jewish plaintiff.

“Religious groups should have the power to make decisions that seek to protect the children in their care,” Slavis said. “We asked the justices to protect that commonsense right for Rosenbaum Yeshiva and all other faith-based institutions in New Jersey.”

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