November 28, 2018

Comments of Decalogue President Jonathan Lubin 

I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for the Council on American Islamic Relations, and particularly the Chicago branch of that organization, which promotes civil rights for all people. Over the weekend Hussam Ayloush, Director of CAIR – Greater Los Angeles, published a statement on Twitter that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. The death of respectful discourse in this country is, as always, distressing. This kind of language does not advance CAIR’simportant message, or forward its important work.

The Decalogue Society of Lawyers, America’s oldest Jewish bar association, has always striven to build bridges, not tear them down. We look forward to continuing that important work, particularly given how clear the common ground is between our organization, and one, such as CAIR, that is dedicated to the advancement of human rights at home and around the world. I am therefore personally disappointed in the unhelpful and, frankly, unhealthy rhetoric out of Mr. Ayloush. As president of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, I call upon him, and upon CAIR, to disavow such rhetoric.

 

October 28, 2018

Comments of Decalogue President Jonathan Lubin on Yesterday’s Events in Pittsburgh

The news of the eleven martyrs, and the injured, in Pittsburgh sent the entire Jewish community into mourning. That these individuals were taken from us solely due to their Jewish identity gives us pause, and compels us to speak.

For my part, I feel wholly inadequate to the task of finding meaning in these savage acts, or to somehow comfort those who, like me, were so saddened by them. Personally, I’ve taken great comfort in the outpouring of support that I’ve seen from so many who have sought to console the Community of Israel in this trying time. Our tradition teaches that when someone dies, it is left to the living to do good deeds in their merit. See Sefer Chassidim, Siman 1171.

In the language of the Chassidic masters, we seek to push away the darkness by adding in light. The most obvious manifestation of that light is the light of the Shabbos candles; and I think it would be a very good thing to commemorate these kedoshim, who were martyred on Shabbos, to increase in light through the lighting of Shabbos candles. Indeed, this coming Shabbos will be the last one in some time in which lighting Shabbos candles will be easy to do, given the busy schedules of so many of our membership. The time to light candles this week will be 5:23 pm. By next week, after the clocks change, it will be much earlier.

Another manifestation of that light could be in increasing in acts of goodness and kindness, including by giving tzedakah. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe frequently reminded us, the word tzedakah – traditionally rendered ‘charity’ in English – truly means justice. For those of us who have the ability to give – whether of our money or of our time and skills – it is incumbent upon us to do so. We were given what we have so that we could use it to heal this broken world.

And this world is in great need of healing.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the martyrs, the wounded, and their families. May their memory be a blessing, and may the True Judge bring justice to those who mean harm to peaceful people.

Comments of 2018-2019 President Jonathan Lubin, 84th Annual Installation & Awards Dinner, June 27, 2018

Thank you Judge Evans, and to the honorees, Madame Attorney General, dear guests, thank you all for being here. A special thank you to my wife, Chana Raizel Lubin for coming to this dinner, and for supporting all that I do and have done for this organization. A special thank you to my mother, Dona Spain, who is in town from Coral Gables, Florida – my old stomping ground. And to everyone else who has come here, who has purchased ads, or sponsored this dinner, thank you, thank you for supporting our work.

This week, we read from the Torah Portion called Parashas Balak, from Numbers, which tells the story of the evil prophet Bilaam, and his failed attempts to curse the Jewish people. Our sages, in Ethics of our Fathers, learn certain lessons from Bilaam. They say that there are three traits that are common to students of Abraham our Father: A kind eye, a lowly spirit, and muted passions. By contrast, the evil Bilaam’s students are characterized by having an evil eye, a haughty spirit, and expansive desires. The Chassidic Master, the Sefas Emes asks the obvious question: what have I learned from this? Any fool could figure it out. And he answers that many people think that dedication, in and of itself, is praiseworthy. Come our sages and say that one must have a kind eye – he needs to see the good in others, and seek out their benefit. She needs to have a humble spirit – the willingness to subjugate even her own goals for the sake of her fellow. Finally, such a person must be extrinsically motivated.

Dedication alone may not be sufficient. Ours is merely to be tools in the hands of the Most High. Our sages continue that students of Abraham eat in this world, but they inherit the world to come. The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, says that ‘inherit’ here doesn’t refer to some eschatological future, but rather it refers to the here and now. When your motivations are to serve the Master of the Universe, you draw the world to come into this world, and make it holy. This is true leadership.

This dinner is a celebration of leaders, people who I and many others hold up as heroes. People like our honorees, and our keynote speaker, here tonight. People like Rabbi Ahron Wolf, who makes sure that no Jew in Chicagoland is ever alone to fend for himself or herself, particularly in hospitals and retirement homes. Rabbi Baruch Hertz is, for me and for many others in Chicago, a leader and hero of the highest caliber. Rabbi Hertz would give the shirt off of his back, and with him that isn’t a figure of speech.  Aviva Patt, our Executive Director. She’s the real leader of the Decalogue Society.

With a rise in anti-Semitic incidents and other forms of nativist bigotry, leaders are a precious commodity today. And any Economics student knows that what makes a commodity precious is its scarcity. The Decalogue society was one of the many organizations that filed an Amicus Brief before the United States Supreme Court earlier this term, pointing out the striking similarities between what has been called the Muslim ban and nativist bans against Jewish immigration that we faced in the flight from Hitler’s Europe. I was proud to be one of its co-authors. And I’d like to recognize Gail Eisenberg, one of the other co-authors, for her leadership on that score.

While I personally was disappointed in the decision that was handed down yesterday in that matter, I’m proud of the work of so many attorneys who stood up for what is right, and at the very least caused the president to amend the travel ban so that it would comport, however slightly, with the Constitution.

We organized an immediate response to the events in Charlottesville earlier this year that brought together leaders from many of the affinity bar associations. I can see many of you here today, and I’m happy that we’re all on the same team. We’re a good team. And we’ll do great things.

Bigotry is more and more an equal opportunity employer. As Jews, we’ve learned through the wisdom that comes from unfortunate experience that in order to confront hate, it is simply not enough to look across the political aisle and point out the iniquities of those on the other side. Indeed, our influence is usually the strongest among those who are closest to us.

But with every challenge comes an opportunity. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was wont to say that the light shines brightest in the darkness. The Decalogue Society has always been a light. And if current events have cast a cold shadow over our great nation, know that our light will shine brighter and brighter, with all of your help.

As I wrote in the Tablets last Spring, alternative media – internet chat boards, and social media – have not only created new forums for bigotry, but they’ve given us new tools to fight it. We aren’t going to stop people from speaking – nor should we try. As Justice Brandeis articulated it, “those who won our independence believed that the final end of the State was to make men free to develop their faculties.” We aren’t going to be able to scare bigots into their basements. In many cases, they’re already there. We know, as Brandeis continues “that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; … and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.” At the investiture of Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. that I attended on behalf of this Society recently, more than one of the speakers referred to the words inscribed on the wall of our Illinois Supreme Court: Audi Alteram Partem, hear the other side. That dedication to equanimity in the face of competing narratives may be the secret to American liberty. Free speech doesn’t give hatred the freedom to grow. It gives hatred the freedom to die, and die it should.

And nobody has dedicated himself to that vision, or has fought hatred with greater ferocity, and with more poise than Mitchell Goldberg; you’ve left big shoes to fill. I feel wholly inadequate to the challenge. But thankfully, working alongside you these few years, you’ve also given me important lessons in what it means to be a leader, and a statesman. There is so much I’d like to say to you about how grateful I am to have been given the time we’ve spent together, working for this organization. But, as words wouldn’t do justice, I can only say thanks. With your model as a guide, and with G-d’s help, this Society will grow, resting on the strong foundations that have been laid for it, but with the conviction that FOR US the sky truly is the only limit. Thank you, and G-d bless you.

May 8, 2018

The Decalogue Society of Lawyers strongly condemns the anti-Semitic attack against a Jewish man yesterday afternoon in downtown Skokie, IL.  The yarmulke-wearing, Jewish man wasaccosted by a perpetrator using anti-Semitic epithets.  The attacker pursued the victim and caused damage to the victim’s car, in which he sought refuge.  The victim was targeted because he wore a yarmulke.  This is the second overtly anti-Semitic crime committed in the Chicagoland area in days. That this incident occurred in Skokie, home to a large Jewish community that includes holocaust victims, and which has historically been targeted by hate groups, is alarming.

All people in our community, our state and our nation have the right to live in safety and free from any hate crimes or other discriminatory behavior.  The Decalogue Society applauds the Skokie Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney for taking decisive action.  And Decalogue looks forward to working with them and with other groups to make sure that the Jewish community’s safety concerns are being addressed. And we look forward to appropriate charges being brought against the perpetrator of this hate crime.

Hate is one of the greatest evils that all societies must confront. And they must confront it decisively.  For over eight decades, Decalogue has stood at the forefront of battling against all forms of hate and discrimination and to ensure that our nation remains free for all of its inhabitants. Over its existence, Decalogue has fought to defend the dignity and inherent rights of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, creed, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation.

Decalogue shall continue to proudly stand in support of all victims of hate, and among the voices opposing the evils of hate and intolerance.

May 4, 2018

The Decalogue Society of Lawyers strongly condemns the events of yesterday evening, when a Hebrew-speaking Uber passenger was ejected by the driver of an Uber car while driving on Lower Wacker Drive during rush hour traffic.  The passenger, Itay Milner, explained the event in a post on social media: “I was just thrown out of an Uber in the middle of the highway only because I answered my phone in my mother tongue.”

Apart from the extreme danger the Uber driver placed his passenger in, federal, state and local laws protect all people from the kind of discrimination described by Milner.

Though Uber has stated that it has suspended the driver, the Decalogue Society is working with other groups to investigate whether and to what extent federal, state and local laws were violated by the Uber driver and/or Uber.  All people in Chicago and Illinois deserve protection against the kind of discriminatory behavior on display last night.

Hate is one of the greatest evils that all societies must confront. And they must confront it decisively.  For over eight decades, Decalogue has stood at the forefront of battling against all forms of hate and discrimination and to ensure that our nation remains free for all of its inhabitants. Over its existence, Decalogue has fought to defend the dignity and inherent rights of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, creed, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation.

Decalogue shall continue to proudly stand among the voices opposing the evils of hate and intolerance.  And we look forward to Uber’s full cooperation in responding effectively to the events of yesterday.

September 2017

Decalogue files amicus brief in Travel Ban case

Read the brief here

It is with great sadness that Decalogue announces that Steven J. Rizzi,
Decalogue President 2011-2012, passed away Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Kent alumnus, Steve was recruited as a Decalogue member by Judge Ed Burr and served as a Board member and officer for several years prior to his election as President in June of 2011. Steve was always focused on what Decalogue could do for our members, whether helping them professionally or just making Decalogue more fun. He organized some great social outings to Bulls games and always encouraged us to innovate and bring something new to our programs each year. When he wanted to have music and an open bar at the Annual Dinner but was told there wasn't enough in the budget, he got on the phone and raised the needed funds. And our guests said it was the best Dinner ever.

The initiation of Decalogue's mentorship program, led at the time by Nancy Vizer, was one of Steve's proudest accomplishments as President, and earlier this year, with current President Mitch Goldberg, he revitalized the program, personally matching up more than a dozen mentors and mentees.

Steve was widely loved and admired for his kindness, generosity and good humor, and will be greatly missed.
May his memory be for a blessing.

Our condolences go to his wife Suzanne, daughter Rachael, parents Dom & Sema, and all his family.

 

To honor Steve Rizzi's memory and legacy, donations are being accepted by the Bright Start College Savings Plan on behalf of Rachael Rizzi.
Steve always placed great importance on education and higher learning, please help him bring his goals for Rachael to fruition.

To receive an invitation to make a tax free donation in Steve's name,
please send your email address to Stephanie Marcotte at: geman_marcotte@yahoo.com 

Remembering Steve

I worked with Riz decades ago as a young associate at what was then Williams & Montgomery. I had seen him on dozens of other occasions at court, at Decalogue events, and more recently on a few occasions after I moved to Northbrook. A terrific lawyer yes - but more important he was always friendly, a pleasure to talk to, and was a standup guy. My heart goes out to his family.
Shimon Kahan

I cannot contain my sorrow.  My fondest memory of Steve is when he used to set up his living room as a department store so my girls could "shop" for his daughter Rachel's clothes and toys as she grew out of them. After the "shopping" was done he used to chase down the ice cream man for blocks making sure all the girls had their treats. I feel heartbroken loosing Steve but his kindness and generosity will live forever in my mind as a constant reminder that the world can be a great place. 
James Goldberg

Steve's former partner, Steve Weinberg, wrote a lovely memorial for the Decalogue Tablets.

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On Tuesday, August 22, Decalogue, joined by the Cook County Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers Association, and Chicago Bar Association, hosted a press conference in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville. Following are the opening remarks of Decalogue President Mitchell Goldberg, with a link to the entire statement.

Thank you all for being here today. And thank you to Lee Zoldan, Loop Synagogue President, for your introductory remarks.

My name is Mitchell Goldberg and I am the president of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. I am also the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor who grew up in Germany, enduring the humiliations and pain of the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s.

Yesterday was the eclipse of the sun. Today we gather as a coalition of people willing to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to say in one voice that we must work to eclipse bigotry and hate. Hate is an evil that all societies must confront. And they must confront it decisively.

This is not a political issue. This is not a party issue. This is an American issue.

Represented here today are the following organizations (in alphabetical order):

Alliance of Illinois Judges

American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
Arab American Bar Association of Illinois
Asian American Bar Association
Asian American Bar Association Law Foundation
Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago
Chicago Bar Association
Chicago Loop Synagogue
Chinese American Bar Association
Cook County Bar Association
Decalogue Society of Lawyers
Filipino American Lawyers Association
Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois
Illinois State Bar Association
Jewish Judges Association of Illinois
Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago
Muslim Bar Association of Chicago
National Employment Lawyers Association of Illinois

South Asian Bar Association

Read the entire statement here

Read statement from the President of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville

February 6, 2017, Decalogue joined our colleagues from the Arab American Bar Association and the Muslim Bar Association in condemning President Trump’s immigration ban as irrational, discriminatory and unconstitutional, and his disparagement of a federal judge as an attack on the separation of powers. “No one is bigger; no president, nobody, is bigger than the Constitution of the United States,” declared Judge (ret.) William Haddad of the Arab American Bar Association.

Representatives of other bar associations and an array of Muslim and Arab American community and professional organizations also participated.

Statement by Decalogue President Curtis Ross:

I am Curtis Ross, the President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers.  We are honored to co-sponsor this press conference in support of Civil Rights and the Rule of Law.

Part of the Decalogue Constitution provides that we shall “Maintain Vigilance against Public and private practices which are Anti-Social, Discriminatory, Anti-Semitic or Oppressive and Join with Other Groups and Minorities to Protect legal rights and privileges.” That is exactly what we are all doing here today.

As Jews, we are particularly mindful of U.S. governmental actions taken against particular minorities.  During the 1930s Jews were often rejected for immigration based upon quotas in favor or those from certain countries and also based upon economic hardship issues. Americans in the 1930s were extremely concerned with the Depression and the economic impact of immigrants.  We can see parallels with our most recent Presidential election. At the same time, the United States and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt were concerned that the Nazis were sending spies and saboteurs to the U.S.  Jews were considered more likely to be spies as the Nazis  even though there were no facts to back up this theory. It was not until Secretary of the Treasury Robert Morgenthau, Jr. and his staff pressured President Roosevelt in January of 1944 with proof that the U.S. State Department had delayed even modest measures for rescue and relief, that U.S. policy began to change. 

At times our immigration laws have excluded all Chinese, almost all Japanese, almost all Asians and Africans. It has only been since the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1965 that all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin that the prior national origin based quota system was abolished under President Lyndon Johnson.

It is only through the Rule of Law that Civil Rights will be enforced.  Lawyers and Courts must stand up to partisan political interests and movements and each group must support the other whenever someone else’s rights are impaired.

See media coverage at
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2017/02/06/chicago-attorneys-team-up-to-fight-trump-travel-ban/
http://wgntv.com/2017/02/06/chicago-muslim-and-arab-american-organizations-speak-out-against-trump-travel-ban/

More News

John Marshall Law School Responds to anti-Semitic Vandalism

I’m saddened to share that yesterday afternoon we discovered an anti-Semitic act of vandalism in a library study room. Chief Diversity Officer Troy Riddle and Campus Safety and Security Manager Ali Haleem responded immediately to the scene. After photographing the evidence, the offensive symbol and words were removed immediately. Despite a full-day investigation that included reviewing several days of security-camera tapes, we have not been able to determine who is responsible for this offensive act.

I have also learned that on October 6 and 11, 2016, security received separate reports of a small swastika carved into the edge of a desk in room 420 and on the rubber edge of a table on the second-floor student commons. Both incidents were investigated, but the culprits were not identified.

We at John Marshall value inclusion. We are committed to providing an environment free from harassment and discrimination. We condemn hate. I personally condemn this act and ask you to join me in ensuring that we remain a community that welcomes individuals regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or other characteristic.

The fact that this despicable act occurred during Diversity Week disheartens me even more. Having participated in many events this week, I have observed our students’ spirit, kindness, and willingness to learn and venture outside their comfort zone. Thank you. These are the acts I want to celebrate.

As a community of legal professionals and scholars, we reaffirm our commitment to promote a culture and environment in which ideas may be shared and discussed civilly. And to the person or persons responsible for the vandalism: these acts were cowardly and small-minded, and will only strengthen our resolve to promote diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness.

Within every challenge lies opportunity. As a community, let’s take this opportunity to learn more about each other, to unite in the fight against bigotry and prejudice, and to live law in color.

Dean Darby Dickerson

Decalogue and the Polish Advocates Society Reject Anti-Semitism

"The Polish Advocates Society and the Decalogue Society of Lawyers,  representing  hundreds of lawyers and judges in and around the Chicagoland region, many of whom have  roots in Poland,  having  become aware of reports of recent anti-Semitic demonstrations in Lodz, Poland related to football, jointly call upon people of good faith, committed to the rule of law, to  categorically condemn such behavior. With great pride in our heritage and as proud members of the bar in the United States, we soundly reject racism in all its forms and look to leadership in our communities and in Poland to join in condemning anti-Semitism."

Martin Niemöller revisited

In America, Muslim communities are often refused permits to build new houses of worship, they are subjected to hateful insults, and hijabs are ripped off women’s heads on the street.

We aren’t Muslims – will we speak up?

American Sikhs, Hindus & Arab Christians receive the same abuse. They are presumed on sight to be radical Islamic terrorists, but they are not radicals, Islamic or terrorists.

We aren’t Sikhs, Hindus or Arab Christians– will we speak up?

In America, Latino legal US residents can be hunted by police and immigration officers where they work, where they live, when they travel, sometimes where they pray. Their families may be separated entering or leaving the US.

Most of us aren’t Latinos– will we speak up?

Many African-Americans have been pulled over by police under suspicion of driving nice cars a few blocks from their homes. Traffic stops for a broken turn signal can result in fatalities. Their children are taught to act with extreme caution around police. They question whether others believe black lives even matter.

The police usually treat us well - will we speak up?

In America, the LGBTQ community has long been subjected to intense verbal hatred, bullying, violence, exclusion from marriage, denial of public accommodations & commerce. Hospitals often refuse to allow them to comfort their partner or spouse’s dying days.

Will we speak up about the hatred against the LGBTQ community regardless of our own gender orientation?

In America, Jews have been subjected to periods of intense verbal and physical attacks. We are often blamed for hard economic times. Our houses of worship, schools, fraternities, businesses and homes have been tagged with large, hateful symbols, illustrations and vile insults. Windows were smashed and swastikas were posted on a synagogue in downtown Chicago – a few blocks away.

Will victims of hatred turn away from each other’s pain? If we don’t stand up for each other, if we are manipulated by haters into ignoring or opposing each other, G-d help us all.

Comments by Michael A. Strom, Decalogue Past President, at the “Let’s Talk About Hate” seminar at John Marshall Law School, Monday, March 27, 2017.