Brooklyn, NY - First And Oldest Orthodox Girl School Faces Law Suit
Brooklyn, NY - ‘Rivka Schwartz” does not know where she would educate her daughters if not for Shulamith School for Girls, the first Orthodox school for girls in the nation, which has been located in Brooklyn since 1930.
But Schwartz may be facing a dilemma when Shulamith sells its building, as is being planned by the school’s administration, and potentially closes its doors for good.
“There aren’t any options; there is no school like Shulamith in Brooklyn,” said Schwartz of the school her daughters attend and where she herself went. (Neither Schwartz nor any other parent contacted for this story permitted their name to be used, for fear of retribution by school officials.
In an effort to hold on to what they see as a unique school — Orthodox but Zionist, religiously fervent but engaged with the wider, secular world — Shulamith parents are fighting the proposed sale of the Brooklyn campus. They have hired an attorney and are exploring the possibility of a lawsuit.
The fight over Shulamith points to the changing character of Midwood’s Jewish community as it is being pulled to the right religiously and as Sephardic Jews increasingly buy up real estate in the area. And it is emblematic of other struggles within Orthodoxy pitting centrists against more right-leaning elements.
Shulamith has a long history in Brooklyn, first in the Borough Park section and later in Midwood.
Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, head of Jewish studies at Shulamith in Brooklyn, gave weight to the argument around population shift.
“Demographics have changed tremendously. The Modern Orthodox community in Brooklyn is not what it once was; it’s more a yeshiva world. Flatbush has now moved more to the right and most of our constituency is in Long Island and Teaneck. Some are still here but not enough to make a big impact,” said Rabbi Lieberman.
Still, he added, rumors that the school will close entirely are unfounded.
“Closing the school in Brooklyn is not an issue. They might move to a different location, but too much is invested here and too many people care about this Brooklyn school for it to close.”
Many of the parents who don’t buy the numbers presented by Rabbi Zwick have banded together and hired an attorney, Robert Tolchin of Jaroslawicz & Jaros, LLC. At least 60 parents have so far signed authorizations for Tolchin to represent them. The parents’ group is considering a lawsuit against the school, which they say has not been transparent in the proposed sale of the building, election of board members and general school issues.
“They’re trying to use the excuse of not being viable, but we have 364 children from nursery to eighth grade,” said Schwartz. “Who decides what viable is? To us, every Jewish child is viable.”
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