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Fisher v. Congregation B'nai Yitzhok

Pennsylvania Superior Court
110 A.2d 881 (1955)


Rabbi Herman Fisher (plaintiff) was an orthodox Hebrew rabbi. Congregation B’nai Yitzhok (Congregation) (defendant) was an orthodox Hebrew congregation. Fisher contracted with the Congregation to officiate as cantor in the Congregation’s synagogue for six services during the High Holiday Season. Under the Torah and other orthodox Jewish law, men and women are not allowed to sit together during services in the synagogue. This religious custom was not written in the contract. After the contract was signed, the Congregation changed its policy as to men and women sitting together in synagogue, for the first time allowing them to sit together. When Fisher learned of this new policy, he told the Congregation that he would no longer be able to officiate as cantor because the Congregation’s new seating practice would violate his beliefs. Given the late notice he received of the change in seating policy, it was too late for Fisher to obtain other officiating jobs during the Holiday season. Accordingly, Fisher brought suit against the Congregation to recover what he would have received from the contract. At trial, Fisher presented testimony of the Congregation’s rabbi who stated that he told Fisher before the contract was signed that the Congregation followed the segregated seating tradition. The trial court ruled in favor of Fisher. The Congregation appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hirt, J.)

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