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Student Successfully Appeals Lawsuit Against Synagogue for Injuries Sustained During Study Abroad Program
Key point 10-11. A church may be legally responsible on the basis of negligent supervision for injuries resulting from a failure to exercise adequate supervision of its programs and activities.

A New York court declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a 19-year-old student against her synagogue seeking compensation for injuries she suffered while on a study abroad program in Israel sponsored by the synagogue. A 19-year-old female member of a Jewish synagogue (the "plaintiff") was a participant in her synagogue's Nativ Program, in which first-year, college-level students live, study, and perform volunteer work in Israel for nine or ten months. The program provided the plaintiff with medical insurance and an insurance card. The plaintiff was also told that program staff would contact doctors, set up appointments, and attend them with her, should the need arise.

In September 2007, while studying at a university in Jerusalem during the first semester of the program, the plaintiff twisted her right knee. She was treated by a doctor who told her that she should return in two weeks if the knee was still bothering her. The pain lasted for one to two weeks, and the plaintiff did not return. This was not the first time the plaintiff had experienced a problem with her knees. In her medical forms for the program, she disclosed that she had arthritis and had worn a knee brace for sore joints "years ago."

For the second semester, the plaintiff lived in Yerucham, a small town in southern Israel, an hour and a half away from Jerusalem, where she performed volunteer work. Still, the plaintiff was not completely on her own. She had a host family in the town, relatives in Jerusalem, and a cell phone that she could use to contact her parents.

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