NYC Congregation Fires Employee for Having Pre-Marital Sex

Congregation Shearith Israel

The former program director of the oldest Jewish congregation in America, founded in 1654, apparently was fired from her job because she was pregnant…at the time of her wedding.

On Tuesday, Alana Shultz’s lawyers stated in a lawsuit filed with the federal court that her former place of employment, Congregation Shearith Israel, fired her after learning she was pregnant prior to her June wedding. According to Shultz, she informed her supervisor about her pregnancy as she left for her honeymoon. The supervisor then told the congregation’s rabbi, Meir Soloveichik, and a board member, Michael Lustig. When Shultz returned from her honeymoon, her position had apparently been eliminated due to “restructuring.” She was also asked to sign a release waiving litigation and agreeing not to give any negative statement regarding the synagogue–all for six weeks severance pay.

READ: I Was Shamed For Breastfeeding in a Synagogue

The tables turned, however, when Shultz hired a lawyer, which resulted in the congregation offering to “rehire” her. The lawsuit states, “Sadly, this attempt to ‘re-hire’ Ms. Shultz was not a decision made after reflection and atonement, but rather was thinly veiled attempt to mitigate [their] exposure for their blatant discriminatory and unlawful conduct.”

READ: The Firing of Jill Abramson is a Scary Wake-Up Call For All Working Women

Shultz told the New York Post how upset she is to have been put in this position at all–just for having premarital sex and actually starting a family with her husband:

“After working tirelessly at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue for the last 11 years, I am beyond saddened they’ve forced me to file this lawsuit, which I hope will help other women avoid what they did to me during what should be a time for celebration and joy.” 

What a way to dampen someone’s post-honeymoon bliss and pregnancy.

Joanna Valente

Joanna Valente (Editorial Assistant) is the author of Sirs & Madams and The Gods Are Dead and received her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Her full-length collection Marys of the Sea is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in 2016. In her free time, she is also the editor of Yes Poetry & Luna Luna Magazine. You can follow her @joannasaid and reach her at

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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