Garvin: Don’t Tell Me Where to say Kaddish


marshall-garvinThe NY Daily News reports: A 65-year-old ” mensch ” who worked for a major Jewish women’s group says his supervisor harassed him for leaving work to pray when his mom died – and fired him when he kvetched to the boss.

Marshall Garvin, a religious Jew from Riverdale, the Bronx, says he was canned an hour after he complained to Na’amat USA President Elizabeth Raider about supervisor Susan Schwartz.

He filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the organization and Schwartz in the Bronx Tuesday, saying she “dictated” to him which nearby synagogues he could attend to say Kaddish – the traditional mourner’s prayer.

“No person of any religion should have to go through this,” Garvin told the Daily News. “It’s unconscionable for a religious Jewish woman to behave this way.”

Garvin said his religious duties required him to pray three times a day after his mother, Clara, died of cancer in January.

But instead of showing compassion, Schwartz phoned several local synagogues and told Garvin which ones he could attend, the suit alleges.

She harassed him for daily reports on his whereabouts, kept him from attending at least 15 services and had him fired in March, Garvin claims.

Na’amat, a social service organization that helps women in need, denies any discrimination.

“This gentleman was laid off in a reduction of force,” said Robert Schanzer, a lawyer for Na’amat.

Garvin, who worked as a mailman for more than 30 years, won two prior settlements for religious discrimination lawsuits against the U.S. Postal Service, records show.

“He’s a mensch , and he fights discrimination wherever he sees it,”said one of Garvin’s old post office colleagues.

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter}


  1. As long as there was a proper minyan nearby, it’s quite reasonable for an employer to demand that the employee go to a closer shul.

    We’re missing a lot of information here like the type of minyanim nearby and the amount of time it took him to travel, but while he has the right to make a minyan, he doesn’t have the right to travel an unreasonable distance while on the clock.

    It sounds like the employer was very accommodating – going to the trouble to inquire about several local minyanim and allowing the employee to say kaddish. How many employers would go to these lengths?

  2. Um, an employer needs to make a reasonable accomodation for an employees religious observances. With that said, if I wantto say kaddish an hour away from work or leave early to make a minyan, when a minyan is right near by, an employer does not have to accomodate that request.

  3. Chazal were very machmir on the work ethic as any type of break taking is gezel. Abba Hilkia even refused to return shalom because of that (Taanit 23b). On the other hand, as in all monetary matters minhag hamedina overrides. Thus, if there is a law requiring employers to accomodate tefilla baminyan three times a day an employer would be halachically required to do so. If not, not (Chazal exempted workers from their mitzvot in such cases – see, for example, Shulchan Aruch Orech Haim 191:1-2).

    It would seem to me that by giving him an opportunity to daven with a minyan on work time (I presume that he could not find one during his lunch break – which, of course, would be the first chpice) they were lifnim mishurat hadin. He should have thanked them and accomodated their reasonable demands.


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