Shlomo Hyman Disappears from Ahavath Torah, Not with a Bang but a Whimper

In May, the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey announced the dismissal of long-time teacher, Rabbi Shlomo Hyman with a cryptic statement,

It was determined that Rabbi Hyman’s conduct had been neither acceptable nor consistent with how a rebbe in our Yeshiva should interact with students.

Congregation Ahavath Torah of Englewood was left in the lurch since they privately found out about the RYNJ’s investigation in February and had had him on leave  from his position as their Youth Rabbi but were left in the dark about the allegations or final findings. So they continued the suspension and conducted their own private investigation, in some cases talking to the same witnesses who spoke to RYNJ’s investigators. Eventually Hyman’s leave turned into his departure. Whether this was by resignation or firing is not known to me. But they finally removed his profile and listing from his website. He is now completely gone from their website.

Initially there was quite a furor in Bergen County with a number of locals absolutely defending Hyman and Hyman claiming he was going to sue. There was talk of his getting pro bono representation. In part that was fueled by support he was getting in back channels from OU-Koshers’ CEO, Rabbi Menachem Genack, a resident of Englewood and a rabbi of a small shul right up the block from Ahavath Torah. That seems to have died down. Hyman had threatened lawsuits over his dismissal.  A factor in these developments may have been Alan Fagin, Exec VP of the OU privately sharing his conclusion with others that there was more than one credible allegation of sexual misconduct against Hyman.

So the story ends as it started with Hyman out of work with no specific enough explanation and no more talk of lawsuits. The key institutions were more busy minimizing their legal and reputational risks than with providing a clear enough explanation to get support for their decision or to unambiguously put to rest the question of whether Hyman should ever work with children again.

Who knows, maybe he will find future kiddie work with his brother, (Sholom/Simon)’s party entertainment specialty as Simon Says. Personally I will trust the decision of RYNJ and Ahavath Torah.

P.S. Several people tell me that decades earlier, Shlomo Hyman worked at Camp Magen Avraham.

33 thoughts on “Shlomo Hyman Disappears from Ahavath Torah, Not with a Bang but a Whimper

  1. Give it a rest already!! And have the decency to let this one die. There’s been too much unsubstantiated guessing. Not you (even with your “sources”) and certainly not your commenters have any real information here. He’s moved on. They’ve moved on. Unfortunately (as you very well know) there’s plenty of other real stories, with proven criminality you can focus on. But leave this man alone already!!

    • More than not nice, was disgusted the author of this article mentioned him. Especially when nothing has been proven. And even if something is proven, Simon Hyman has nothing to do with it and the author of this article has effected his parnusa off here-say.

  2. Shlomo worked at Magen Av, yes I was there with him. Never saw or heard anything suspect. I hope he sues if he is innocent or it was just innuendo, but if it is true, chas veshalom, then that’s obviously a different story. Either way, RYNJ badly mishandled the situation. Board president resigned afterwards.

    • YNJ has been changing presidents every few years for a decade now. It’s a position someone holds for a couple of years and then makes room for the next guy. They are on their fifth president in my 12 years as a parent. Don’t insinuate that the change in board leadership was in any way connected to this unfortunate event.

      • Changes only started when Rabbi Price joined the team. In all my years at YNJ (1st -8th grade) though many years ago. There were no change in administration and very few on the board. From what I have heard from my friends with kids in the yeshiva Rabbi Price is the root of the constant turnover in his attempt to take control of the yeshiva. This is only my opinion. And I’m sure others have very different opinions.

  3. Let this die. Obviously since no one sued him he is innocent. There have been no lawsuits or criminal proceedings. None of the allegations have been made public. Leave his family alone. Honestly, you should be ashamed to continue this relentless attack on him and his family members. The man has a wife, children and family. Why continue to shake him when you have no knowledge of the allegations and who made them?

  4. Anonymous

    We tuition payers have the right to know about what was described as a serious matter involving someone we let supervise our children?
    If your gardner was let go for improprieties re clients you’d feel entitled to know what he did, why is this different??

    • The fact the Yeshiva has not given more details to the parents who deserve them is what leads me to believe there is more going on here than meets the eye. I think the yeshiva is covering up what they know was incorrect.

  5. Shlomo Hyman worked at Mogen Av and stood out as an engaging, dynamic, caring, brilliant counselor who actually cared about the children and not about napping and chilling out all day.

    • He did indeed. Whether he will prevail is another matter. Increasingly, one sees dismissed teachers using the tactic, particularly when others fund the effort. I am not yet aware of any such case where the plaintiff won at trial. It is hard to know about settlements, whther they are for nuisance amounts or real money. In the case of Yisroel Bodkins, he withdrew the suit the moment it would have required the deposition of key figures at Torah Umesorah who were backing him.

      • Nasty to bring in his brother. Wow. Unless you have something on his brother why would you mention that? You are doing great work but that is a bit overboard. You pretty much challenged Shlomo to sue “So the story ends…and no more talk of lawsuits…”

        Well I guess he isn’t yet ready for the story to end… so it seems that he actually has no case because noone before him did and especially because Bodkins didn’t ? I’m pretty sure the credible claims against Bodkins were a lot more public than the claims here. I’m sure we will find out soon enough – without invoking his brother’s parnassa.

  6. You have indicated in previous comments that you did not believe he would actually sue. You have also taken the position, based on the cumulative comments I’ve seen you make, that where there is smoke there is fire.

    My question is, what would it take for you to believe that this was a gross exaggeration of what any reasonable person would consider qualifies as abuse, and that the school destroyed the life a man and his family out of an abundance of misplaced caution?

    Please bear in mind that I think the world of Rabbi Hyman and I am overwhelmed with grief over this event. I personally would require a very high bar of evidence before believing he did anything remotely abusive. At the same time I understand that we have witnessed the downfall of many other community leaders, whom nobody ever imagined capable of doing the things that they ultimately were found guilty of doing.

    Unlike others on this and the other two threads regarding this good man, I believe you are doing what you believe to be correct, moral, ethical, and halachically appropriate. I also believe, that if he is exonerated in the end, that you will admit as much and not sweep it under the rug.

    • Thank you for crediting me with sincerity and integrity. Of course I can make mistakes. Sometimes, in spite of claims I have not seen enough to justify posting. If there were retractions by accusers or evidence of falsification I would certainly retract. That has not happened here.

  7. Actually no, RYNJ Parent-AM resigned after less than a year over this imbroglio.

    Not everything is rosy in idyllic Bergen County…

  8. Disgusting to ruin this Robbie’s reputation, livelihood, and dignity with no real facts. So far all that is known is he was terminated for conduct that wasn’t in line with the yeshiva.

    While the statement alludes to possible sexual misconduct, it is a very vague statement I would take with a grain of salt with out seeing more evidence or he is found guilty in a court of law. I had Rabbi Hyman as a Rebbe at YNJ and would trust him to teach my children. He is an incredible man.

    The new administration (since Rabbi Price joined the team) have used questionable tactics to restructure their administration. I am shocked this is the only lawsuit. From my understanding of Rabbi Goldstein’s leaving the yeshiva there should have seen a lawsuit as well.

    Time will tell, and maybe my judgment of character is incorrect. But if it is proven he is innocent, which I believe it will be, I hope he sues the school for clear reasons, the author of this article for slander, and everyone else who has caused him unimaginable pain by tarnishing his name, and making his like an unimaginable hell.

    If he is found guilty for any activity involving inappropriate contact with children, I hope he rots in Jail. But knowing the Rebbe and the yeshiva,I believe this will go to court (I believe the legal battle has actually already began) and the Rabbi will win or more likely than not RYNJ will settle and attempt to sweep this under the rug.

    If they should be firing anyone at RYNJ they should start with Rabbi Price. I loved RYNJ as they instilled great values in me as a child that have shaped who I am today. I highly considered sending my own children to this Yeshiva but would not until they get rid of Price.

  9. On June 8, 2020, the NJ Court denied RYNJ’s motion to dismiss Rabbi Hyman’s lawsuit for discrimination, breach of contract, defamation, and other claims. In other words, his lawsuit may go forward. Significant Update.

    • Actually it allowed some of the charges to go forward and rejected others unless they were shortly reformulated. It denied the RYNJ motion to move the case to binding arbitration before the Beth Din of America.

      • The Court only rejected three very minor claims (and even as to those, they are allowing him to re-plead and amend his complaint). The meat of the case goes forward. It’s significant because it now goes to the discovery stage when certain communications, documents and evidence will be public. You have any insights as to what is going on internally within RYNJ on this ?

        • Here are my SPECULATIONS based on what I do know.

          I found it interesting that the yeshiva wanted to go the Beth Din of America (BDA) but Hyman did not. The BDA has in past ruled against a yeshiva in the 5T and the MO yeshiva complied with the ruling. It involved a fired teacher. The BDA applies the Moshe Feinstein precedent of chodesh l’shana, that a fired teacher is entitled to a month of severance for every year worked. However, when the Yeshiva of Spring Valley fired Rabbi Abrahamson for molesting they were exempted from payment with a psak by rav Shmuel Kamenetsky (because he was fired for molesting). I assume the BDA would rule similarly if there were equally egregious findings, though I do not know that they would have ruled that way in Hyman’s case. The question is why Hyman did not accept that offer. It is certainly faster and less expensive (though I hear he is getting free legal services). I think Hyman wants to drag out the proceedings. As long as the suit continues, he can brandish the fact of the suit as proof of his innocence.

          I suspect the yeshiva wanted to go to BDA because the proceedings are not public and any ruling, even if there is a financial judgment against them would not include the details underlying the judgment.

          So what might the yeshiva want to keep private? Based on what I know, the yeshiva’s previous administration had also gotten complaints about Hyman. True there is a new and different administration. But revelations of that sort could open up the yeshiva to scandal. equally important, from a point of view of lawsuits by survivors, the change of the administration is irrelevant to liability. It is a continuous corporate entity with the new management being liable for the misconduct of the previous administration.

          The yeshiva hired a fancy, expensive law firm to justify their firing. I assume they got the ducks in a row to make the firing defensible in the event of a lawsuit. Having shared info with their firm, it is shielded with lawyer-client privilege. However, documents and facts they knew and shared with the firm exist independently of that sharing with the firm and are discoverable. However, they don’t enter the public domain until trial and only then if the judge approves them as relevant to the lawsuit. Discovery always creates risks of embarrassment but does not necessarily mean they have to settle to avoid disclosure. That is a calculation of reputation vs $ for both parties. Hyman is also vulnerable to embarrassment by the yield of discovery. There is also a spinoff effect on those who shared info with the Yeshiva that played a role in the decision. They too can exposed. In some cases the information is embarrassing to the witnesses. In other cases that is not the problem. It is just the problem of being harassed for having played a role in the firing. So another motive can be revenge and harassment.

          Ultimately, almost all such lawsuits get settled rather than going to trial. Trials are expensive, the outcomes are never certain (juries are unpredictable), reputations of both sides get bloodied, and there is usually some dollar amount that both sides agree is better than going to trial. That amount is ordinarily the amount that experienced lawyers think will usually be the outcome of a trial. But there is face saving in settlements which almost always include Non-disclosure agreements. Each side can claim they won. Hyman can say, you see they had to settle. The yeshiva can say, it was a tiny amount to get rid of a nonsense lawsuit. So either side can misrepresent the truth and most of the public just won’t know.

          Personally I wish more of these lawsuits would go to trial so we could all see the evidence ourselves. But that is just not how they usually end.

  10. On June 8, 2020, the NJ Court denied RYNJ’s motion to dismiss Rabbi Hyman’s lawsuit for discrimination, breach of contract, defamation, and other claims. The Court also flat out rejected RYNJ’s argument that the dispute belongs in Beth Din. In other words, his lawsuit may go forward in Court. This is a significant legal development.

    Court: Rabbi’s defamation suit against River Edge yeshiva for ‘baseless’ claims can go forward

    Deena Yellin, Published 4:34 a.m. ET June 11, 2020

    A state court has quashed attempts by a private Jewish school in River Edge to dismiss a $10 million defamation lawsuit brought by a teacher who was fired last year amid allegations of misconduct.
    In a ruling last week, state Superior Court Judge Walter Skrod dismissed three counts in the lawsuit brought by Rabbi Shlomo Hyman against the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey, but he allowed the majority of the case to go forward.

    The suit stems from the yeshiva’s abrupt dismissal of Hyman in February 2019, and its subsequent letter to the school community asserting that the elementary school teacher was guilty of conduct “neither acceptable nor consistent with how a rebbe in our yeshiva should interact with students.”

    Rabbi Shlomo Hyman, a teacher at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey for 31 years, says the school destroyed his reputation, and did not allow him to defend himself against undisclosed accusations.

    Court filings have shed more light on the allegations, which the school had previously declined to detail. Hyman, 56, was accused of “massaging girls’ shoulders, touching them on clothed parts of the body that he should not have touched, placing stickers on or near their chests and creating classroom games” that allowed the teacher to touch them, the yeshiva said in a filing.

    Those actions violated the staff handbook of the Orthodox school, which forbids teachers from touching students of the opposite gender once children have reached third grade, according to the brief.

    Hyman, a 31-year veteran at Rosenbaum, taught fifth and sixth grade girls and second grade boys. He sued the school in December, asserting that the claims were “baseless,” and that he was not given an opportunity to defend himself against “anonymous claims” that were “over two decades old.”

    In a sign of his innocence, he said, the school never contacted law enforcement about the alleged misconduct.

    Judge Skrod last week allowed Hyman’s lawsuit to go forward on seven of 10 counts, including age discrimination and defamation. He dismissed charges that the school had inflicted emotional distress and damaged Hyman’s future economic opportunities but also said the teacher could attempt to refile them based on new legal arguments and evidence.

    The judge also denied the school’s motion to transfer the case to a Beit Din, a private rabbinical court.

    “We’re happy that the judge dismissed a number of the claims immediately and look forward to the discovery phase, which will show that RYNJ acted for the good of the school community and its students, and in accordance with legal and religious counsel, at every step of the way,” Akiva Shapiro, the school’s attorney, said in a statement.

    Hyman’s lawyer, Oleg Rivkin of Manhattan, said his client was pleased with the judge’s “well-reasoned ruling…Our goal from the beginning has been to vindicate Rabbi Hyman’s rights and restore his reputation. We are one step closer to having a jury do just that.”
    The lawsuit said the letter sent to the school community “ripped the Hymans from the communal, professional, educational and social “worlds” they had lived in for decades.” Shlomo Hyman “became an unemployable pariah” in his close-knit Orthodox community, and his wife, Freidi, was “the object of stares, whispers and gossip” even as she was left as the family’s sole breadwinner, according to the suit.
    According to the complaint, “RYNJ administrators and board members decided that manufacturing a false crisis and then pretending to resolve it publicly to boost their tarnished image was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

    The firing was part of a wider effort to remove senior staff, Hyman alleged.

    In its filings, the yeshiva said Hyman was terminated based on reports from former students. Arnold & Porter, a national law firm retained to investigate the allegations, “interviewed numerous witnesses, including former students of Hyman, parents and other relatives of former students, and Hyman himself with counsel present,” the school said.

    “As discovery will show, neither the timeframe nor the characterizations of the events provided by Rabbi Hyman’s attorney is accurate” said Shapiro, the school counsel.

  12. “I found it interesting that the yeshiva wanted to go the Beth Din of America (BDA) but Hyman did not. ”

    This is not true. Initially R. Hyman DID GO to the BDA but they inexplicably refused to hear his case. After he sued in court, RYNJ asked BDA to take the case and they approached R. Hyman, who at that point, understandably, said no.

  13. At this point, the parties need to come up with a dollar number that is fair to everyone, and settle this. Taking a case like this through the Discovery process will not be good for the community.

  14. I personally can attest that Rabbi Hyman was my second grade Rebbe and was my best rebbe ever. I’m disgusted that RYNJ treated him this way over unsubstantiated claims and that it is both unfair and unjust to treat a veteran member of the yeshiva’s faculty who was without a doubt the most dynamic and well liked rebbe of his time this way.

  15. I don’t know why my previous comments disappeared. Rabbi Hyman and the rest of his family (including his siblings, wife and children) are of the highest caliber human beings and Jews. I have known Rabbi Hyman and his family over fifty years. I don’t believe any of these vague and sketchy allegations, none of which rise to the level of humiliating him. He has done untold numbers of acts of chessed including anonymous acts of chessed. Before you throw stones at a good Jew, get your facts right. I hope he wins his lawsuit which should be made public so no one else has to go through this booshah.

    • I do not remove approved comments. I have not rejected any comments related to Hyman in a long time.

      I get that you have seen R. Hyman’s good side. But to assert his innocence with such confidence you would have to literally been with him full time (and paid attention throughout). So please consider the possibility that he is a man with a good side and with a problematic/inappropriate side. Thus, notwithstanding his good side, it would be irresponsible for the yeshiva and shul to keep him on.

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