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Brooklyn, NY - Teachers And Administrators Continue Dispute Over Salaries Owed At Jewish Girls’ School

Published on: August 31, 2016 09:45 PM
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Brooklyn, NY - Hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages are at the center of a years’ old court case as teachers at a Brooklyn girls’ school allege that they are owed salaries from the year 2010.

The dispute stems from a reorganization at Brooklyn’s Shulamith School for Girls which six years ago split into two different branches, one in Midwood and one in the Five Towns, as reported by The Jewish Week. 

Experiencing financial difficulties at the time of the split which also involved the sale of the Brooklyn campus, the school suspended pay to 80 teachers for an eight month period, leaving educators to deal with crushing financial burdens.

“Two friends of mine lost their houses,” said science teacher Shoshana Kimmel, one of 29 teachers who is named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the school.  “One teacher wasn’t able to pay for her child’s wedding. The few of us who had pension plans lost those.”

The staff’s health insurance plan was discontinued without notice, said Kimmel, who added that the school continued to deduct monthly premiums from teachers’ salaries.

The school promised teachers that they would be receive back pay once the sale of the building was completed, a process that ultimately took four years.  In the interim, teachers said they continued to report to work daily.


“We didn’t want to take it out on the kids by now showing up to class, or not filing their grades,” explained English teacher Barbara Stern, another plaintiff in the case.

Stern said that teachers were afraid to speak out publicly about the problem, concerned about retribution from the school.  A letter faxed to teachers in May, 2011 criticized teachers for taking their case to a secular court instead of going to a beis din.

Teachers were hopeful that their situation would improve when a judge approved a $550,000 settlement in April, an amount that included the salaries owed as well as accrued interest, statutory penalties and four years of legal fees. 

Shulamith rejected the settlement with attorney Robert Tolchin saying that the school owed only the unpaid salaries and would not be extorted by the teachers or cover legal costs that he described as “excessive.”

Tolchin said that the teachers in question were paid several weeks ago, with $312,000, including payroll taxes, deposited directly into plaintiffs’ accounts. 

But teachers said that they received no prior notice of the payout and that the amount, which did not cover any of the associated costs of the years’ old debt, fell short of the salaries owed.

A motion to enforce the April settlement was to be argued in Brooklyn Supreme Court last week, but those legal proceedings have been rescheduled at the request of the school’s lawyers.

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Read Comments (18)  —  Post Yours »


 Aug 31, 2016 at 09:54 PM Ina Says:

Surely, Shulamis made enough money with the sale of their Midwood campus to cover their obligations. They should not be allowed to get away with what they have done! It's not a free for all. Some people are lining their pockets at the expense of those who were loyal and devoted to the students. For shame!


 Aug 31, 2016 at 11:10 PM Anonymous Says:

Withholding wages is a Lav in the Torah - and the teachers must be compensated. I don't understand how this has dragged on so long. Another issue is taking money that is not actually owed halachically. Lawyer's fees and interest may fall under that category. Being that the court can enforce such a payment, if it is not sanctioned by Halacha, it would be considered theft (gezel).

I can understand why they went to court (while I still disagree). In today's day and age, people may have lost faith in Beis Din, since the rulings are sometimes ignored with little repercussions.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 12:36 AM HA! Says:

Shulamith isn't the only school ripping off the teachers. My girls school isn't opening on time, it never does, because they haven't paid the teachers since January! they did a crowdsourcing appeal last school year that raised $1M +. I'm so angry and no, I can't take my girls out because the school follows our hashkafa. I hope Shulamith teachers flatten the admin and get everything they are owed and I wish our teachers do the same thing. The only ones who arent suffering are the adninistrators who are doing very well - no mortgages on houses worth $2M, country homes and other properties. makes you think.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 12:57 AM Frish Says:

Aha! So litvaks are'nt so halachik sensitive. They are worse screwballs then tge onestgey point their fingers on.
They know the beis din balougni better then us
Shame shame


 Sep 01, 2016 at 12:59 AM Dave Says:

We work in a sefardi school in brooklyn very very very wealthy owner just got paid for MAY still owes for june have not got a raise in over a decade not even inflation rate.tuition goes up EVERY year and whoever is nit on time does get in
So WHERE exactly is the money???? The owner has parks and shuls named after him but his own staff he couldnt care less for!!!!!


 Sep 01, 2016 at 01:03 AM Dave Says:

One more thing when people complain they say go to a gemach what nerve! Let me see him not pay his fancy car lease for a month
We have to treat teachersand rebbes a little better then maybe they will influence your kids a little better


 Sep 01, 2016 at 01:10 AM Anonymous Says:

There were three main classes of unpaid salaries.

The teachers that did not sue got paid 100% as soon as money was received from the sale. It was within a week or two.

The second group had gone to the Department of Labor. They were offered 100% of every penny owed. They agreed to take their salaries with no hard feelings. The paperwork took maybe a month or so.

The third group had gotten a lawyer. They were offered the same 100% and coverage of their out of pocket legal fees. They turned it down. Hard to say what legal advice was received or what axe there is to grind.

The building was sold the summer of 2014. No one's pockets were "lined", and reckless ignorant statements should not be made.

The schools made a good faith effort to put the acrimony in the past, and made everyone whole. EVERYONE that was owed anything outstanding was made whole within a few months of the building being sold. This is the only group to refuse a good faith offer of 100%.

Ask anyone but this group if they are owed anything. Everyone got paid.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 05:10 AM volfie Says:



 Sep 01, 2016 at 07:36 AM Anonymous Says:

Of all schools known to the frum community, this one has achieved the record for the most impossible tactics being used by the administrators. I have no clue about the academics, but their business practices have long been known to be worse that questionable. This report is of no shock.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 08:11 AM Aron1 Says:

I feel for the teachers' predicament (I too am a teacher, I too need to pay a mortgage, I too made a wedding recently). However, for people who consider themselves Orthodox Jews, going to a secular court is a matter that should not be taken lightly. Just because you could, does not mean you should.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 08:17 AM Butterfly Says:

Sure they made money, but they spent money also and did not care who got hurt in the process!!


 Sep 01, 2016 at 08:32 AM shimonyehuda Says:

it is all about money and power. The "rabbi's" want and need to control all.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 08:50 AM Lets_get_Real Says:

The Spinker Rav yertziet was yesterday and when he left this world he left his yeshiva to one of his sons. The son after 3-years realized that he could not keep the yeshiva going because he did not have enough financial backing. He was also told by others to connect with Government programs to basically "steal" a bit of money here and there. The son decided to close the yeshiva and send boys to another yeshiva that can pay the Rebbis salary. He made a decision that to not pay Rabanims and to steal was not away to do business and not the Torah way. Kol Hakavod to him for understanding that lying and stealing is never and will never be the way of Torah !


 Sep 01, 2016 at 09:08 AM Teacher Says:

The entire issue at Shulamis was caused by short minded people who did not share the vision of the administration and the board to move the school to long island. Teachers did not get paid because enrollment plummeted when families started moving out of flatbush. The ended up losing millions on the sale because this group used every trick to stop the sale. Ultimately the sale went through and the teachers got every penny they deserved. Everyone would have been much better off if the original plan was implemented and salaries and pensions would have been paid.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 09:52 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
volfie Says:


Unfortunatly that is not correct in a school setting since tge person hiring has to be in charge of the money
But here usually the principal does the hiring and owner pays so they can get away with it
However it should be noted that some yeshivos are obbsessed with paying on time no matter what and that is amazing!!!


 Sep 01, 2016 at 10:11 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Aron1 Says:

I feel for the teachers' predicament (I too am a teacher, I too need to pay a mortgage, I too made a wedding recently). However, for people who consider themselves Orthodox Jews, going to a secular court is a matter that should not be taken lightly. Just because you could, does not mean you should.

Aside from painfully legitimate complaints about our batei din, there have been issues over the past many years in which there were complaints that might have gone to a beis din to resolve. The problem is that nearly every beis din approached refused to pasken a din Torah involving a yeshiva. Taking a yeshiva to beis din is either impossible, or is a guarantee to lose a case regardless of its merits. This leaves the litigant in a quandary. I favor going to beis din instead of secular court, but it is often impossible because of the flaws in the system.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 03:48 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Aron1 Says:

I feel for the teachers' predicament (I too am a teacher, I too need to pay a mortgage, I too made a wedding recently). However, for people who consider themselves Orthodox Jews, going to a secular court is a matter that should not be taken lightly. Just because you could, does not mean you should.

Tell that to Aron and Zalman. They've been embroiled in a dispute in secular court for years.


 Sep 01, 2016 at 05:43 PM Dr_Bert_Miller Says:

I was so upset about aggrieved frum persons litigating in secular court, I wrote a sefer, Guide to Bais Din. Perhaps the teachers who sued in secular court had a heter arcaos (permission to do so).


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