Welcome Heather Cevasco!
New BCBA Executive Director
BUCKS COUNTY ATTORNEYS SWORN IN WITH THE SUPREME COURT OPENING OF THE ASSIZES
Lawrence R. Scheetz, Jr.
Vice President/President Elect
R. Tyler Tomlinson
Melanie J. Wender Treasurer
Jeremy D. Puglia
Immediate Past President
Julie D. Goldstein
Past Presidents’ Representative
Jessica A. Pritchard
Board of Directors
Erin K. Aronson
Brendan M. Callahan
Jeffrey G. DiAmico
Christopher S. Mahoney
Jason R. Weiss
Melanie J. Wender
Bar Association Office
Heather Cevasco, Executive Director 135 East State Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
215.348.9413 • www.bucksbar.org
email submissions to WritsEditor@BucksBar.org
Hoffmann Publishing Group, Inc.
2669 Shillington Road, #438
Sinking Spring, PA 19608
Tracy Hoffmann 610-685-0914 x201 • email@example.com
Welcome Heather Cevasco
We are pleased to announce that Heather Cevasco has been selected as the Bucks County Bar Association
Legal Aid Of Southeastern PA
Names New Staff
Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP) Executive Director
We Asked, You Answered
A pet can be a great source of comfort and motivation. In many ways, pets can help us to live healthier lives.
Bucks County Attorneys Sworn in with The Supreme Court
On January 11, 2023, I had the pleasure along with
2023 Opening of the Assizes
I cannot believe that it is now 2023. How time flies by when you are dealing with a pandemic! For the Bucks
2022 Annual Meeting
On December 1, 2022, the Bar Association held its Annual Meeting in the Courthouse. As usual, it was
Mock Trial: Changing Students’ Lives
The Bucks County Justice Center welcomed back high school students from 17 different Bucks County
My Pilgrimage to The Holy Land
In early January, my wife Maureen and I embarked on a two-week trip to Israel arranged through Our
10% Post Consumer Waste Please Recycle The written and visual contents of this magazine are protected by copyright. Reproduction of print or digital articles without written permission from Hoffmann Publishing Group, Inc., and/ or the Bucks County Bar Association is forbidden. The opinions expressed in this publication are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific legal or other advice or recommendations for any individuals. Additionally, the placement of editorial content, opinions and paid advertising does not imply endorsement by the Bucks County Bar Association. SEE PAST ISSUES AT bucksbar.org/attorney-resources/the-writs OR BW.HoffmannPublishing.com SPREAD THE WORD #BucksWrits & #BucksBar
Also in This Issue: • BCBA President’s Letter 4 • BCBF President’s Letter 6 • From the Editor… 7 • New Member Highlights 10 • Pro Bono Honor Roll 25 • Lawyer-Therapist Happy Hour 28
Book Review 29
Phone Calls with Santa 30 • Orphans’ Court Section
Page 8 Page 12 Page 14 Page 17 Page 18 Page 22 Page 26 Page 32
CORDISCO & SAILE
ISSUE: 2302 ORG/PUB: Bucks Writs
Dear Fellow Members of the Bar,
It is with great pleasure and appreciation that I write my first President’s Message for the WRITS. The first several months of my presidency have been exciting and created many excellent opportunities for leaders to emerge and tough decisions to be made.
Lawrence R. Scheetz, Jr.
Bucks County Bar Association President
Shortly after I received the gavel in December, our Executive Director resigned. An Executive Director Search Committee was formed and we began the extensive search for our next great Executive Director. After reviewing more than fifty resumes and conducting nearly a dozen interviews, the Search Committee offered two excellent candidates to the Board of Directors for consideration.
Following additional Board of Directors’ interviews, we confirmed that we had an exceptional candidate who would make an excellent addition to the team. We extended an offer, which was graciously accepted. We are now thrilled to welcome our new Executive Director, Ms. Heather Cevasco.
I would like to extend a special thank you to each of the Board of Directors, as well as Search Committee Members Jessica Pritchard, Frank Sullivan, Jeff Leibmann, Grace Deon, Tyler Tomlinson and Carol Shelly for your tireless efforts to ensure that the Bar Association and Foundation selected an excellent candidate. In addition, thank you to the phenomenal BCBA staff for increasing your efforts to assist the membership during the search process and welcoming Ms. Cevasco into our BCBA/BCBF family.
In February, the BCBA members celebrated the Opening of Assizes with an excellent CLE on Civility within the BCBA, followed by a night of comradery and good cheer. This year’s Opening of Assizes had record attendance and is hopefully the beginning of a full year of in-person events at the BCBA.
The Opening of Assizes also kicked off our first service project of the year, a professional clothing drive for those experiencing barriers to employment and advancement. The clothing drive was a great success and will immediately benefit local individuals in need. Thank you for all your efforts and donations.
Additionally, our Young Lawyers’ Division hosted the annual Mock Trial Competition. I had the pleasure of serving as a juror and was again impressed with the dedication and talent of the students and their coaches. Thank you to all of our members for volunteering for this wonderful event. It is the time commitment of the coaches, jurors and judges that makes this such a powerful experience for young adults in the community. A special note of gratitude is given to Jennifer Pierce, Chair-Elect of the YLD, for coordinating the entire Competition.
Our various committees, sections and divisions are working hard planning programs and events for our membership, as well as diligently working on new policies and updating our strategic plan. These committees, sections and divisions are working together now more than ever to provide the right amount of programming to the most amount of people at every event. The BCBA is coming together as a unified organization to provide new member benefits and services to maximize the value of your membership.
Finally, we are thrilled to announce that our annual Bench-Bar Conference will be at Skytop Lodge in the beautiful Pocono Mountains from September 21st to the 23rd. We look forward to seeing everyone there in-person this year. We are also looking forward to the BCBF Golf Outing, Seasoned v. Young Lawyers’ Softball Game, Federal Courts Reception and numerous CLEs and events that will take place between now and the Bench-Bar Conference.
Thank you all for your support and assistance in finding a new Executive Director and kicking off what is sure to be an extraordinary year at the Bar Association. Please know that I welcome your input, suggestions and service this year.
Please contact me at any time with questions and new ideas. Thank you for choosing to be a member of the Bucks County Bar Association.
— Lawrence R. Scheetz, Jr., Esquire Bucks County Bar Association President
Thank you all for your support and assistance in finding a new Executive Director and kicking off what is sure to be an extraordinary year at the Bar Association.
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BCBF President’s Message
My Fellow Members of the Bar:
I am honored to be the new president of the Bucks County Bar Foundation. I would be remiss if I didn’t take my first opportunity as the new president to thank the outgoing president, Jessica Pritchard, for her three years of dedicated service to the Foundation. Her tenure as President of the Foundation was very challenging given the challenges of COVID. Amazingly, Jessica increased the Foundation’s gross revenue during that difficult period. Thank you, Jessica; we are forever indebted to you for your tireless service to the Bucks County Bar Foundation.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take my first opportunity as the new president to thank the outgoing president, Jessica Pritchard for her three years of dedicated service to the Foundation. Thank you, Jessica; we are forever indebted to you for your tireless service to the Bucks County Bar Foundation.
We have an exciting 2023 planned, which started with the St. Patrick’s Day Fundraiser on March 9th at the Station Tap House in Doylestown. The St. Patrick’s Day Fundraiser raises money to fund the Thomas E. Mellon, Jr. Scholarship and the William Penn Scholarship. The Foundation awards these scholarships to Bucks County residents with a record of academic excellence and a strong commitment to public service who are pursuing a career in law or a related field.
On June 12th we return to Jericho National Golf Club in New Hope for our golf outing fundraiser. A great excuse to blow off half a day of work, enjoy a round of golf on a fantastic course, and enjoy the company of good friends outside of the Courtroom. The golf outing benefits the Foundation’s veterans legal service programs, including the Veterans Treatment Court. The Veterans Treatment Court program is in need of dedicated social work services for
the Veterans going through the program. The program currently provides fantastic mental health treatment through programs such as Shamrock Reins and Healing Ajax. However, the Veterans often have other critical needs beyond the treatment of their mental health – needs that a dedicated social worker could enable. It is the goal of the Foundation in 2023 to raise the funding necessary for this additional service for the Veterans in this program.
On November 9th the Foundation is partnering with the Young Lawyer’s Division to put on a Quizzo Night Fundraiser. Quizzo, for those of you that do not know, is the wildly popular pub trivia game. This is your opportunity to help the Foundation raise money for our wonderful causes and show the rest of the Bar Association how smart you truly are.
I hope you will all dedicate yourselves in 2023 to helping see the Bucks County Bar Foundation grow, and to helping the Foundation promote access to justice through the programs we fund by attending the events, sponsoring the events, participating in the planned giving activities, and donating to the year-end Fundraising Smackdown (congratulations to the Family Law Section – the 2022 Smackdown Champion). I look forward to the possibilities of 2023 and to the 20th Anniversary of the Bucks County Bar Foundation in 2024.
— Jeffrey Liebmann, Esquire Bucks County Bar Foundation President
Thanks for your interest in theWRITS
send all comments, questions, submissions to: WritsEditor@BucksBar.org. We Welcome Your
I hope you will all dedicate yourselves in 2023 to helping see the Bucks County Bar Foundation grow. I look forward to the possibilities of 2023 and to the 20th Anniversary of the Bucks County Bar Foundation in 2024.
Bucks County Bar Foundation President
From the Editor…
Well, it’s winter, which is generally not that jolly once the holidays are over. What did I do to keep the merriment flowing? Well, I got myself a puppy at the end of October. My husband and I are the proud owners of an adorable little Shih Tzu named Pancakes. While potty training with a dog seems just as frustrating as doing it with a human, the good news is that puppies catch on pretty quickly.
Pancakes is now six months and is fully aware that outside is where she does her private business.
While Pancakes may be potty trained, we are hoping for her to get trained in other ways, such as sitting when told. To assist with that, we enrolled Miss Pancakes in puppy kindergarten through Doylestown Township. Suzie Danzis teaches the class and she has a way with dogs that is inexplicable. Pancakes is not the star student I would want her to be, mainly because she is more concerned with socializing then the tasks at hand. However, Suzie can get Pancakes to understand commands and improve her behavior. I highly recommend this class for anyone with a new puppy.
That is my personal update. Now, this edition of the WRITS magazine has plenty of exciting content. While your instinct may be to hibernate during the winter, that is not what happens at the Bucks County Bar Association. Instead, we get together even more often! In December, there was the annual meeting of the members of the Bar Association. That included well-deserving individuals receiving awards for their accomplishments and the election of a new executive board and new members to the board of directors. I am incredibly proud to now be serving as secretary of the Bucks County Bar Association, especially when it allows me to serve with such an outstanding executive board.
The events did not stop with the annual meeting. The Young Lawyer’s Division hosted Phone Calls with Santa, which is an adorable event and the opportunity to raise money for a worthy cause. Most recently, the Bar Association hosted the Opening of the Assizes, which is a great event to kick off the year and was also wildly successful.
Perhaps the main event to occur with the Bar Association recently is that we said good-bye to our beloved executive director, Greg Nardi. While our loss is someone else’s gain, he left big shoes to fill. However, I think we found the perfect person to do that and am so excited to announce our Bar Association’s new executive director, Heather Cevasco! I have no doubts that Heather will help the Bar Association grow and I am truly excited for what is to come.
Stay tuned everyone for what promises to be an exciting 2023 with the Bucks County Bar Association!
Need a Lawyer?
Welcome to the Bucks County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) serving all of Bucks County. The LRIS is a public service of the non-profit Bucks County Bar Association. Each year the LRIS responds to thousands of callers, referring them to attorneys with experience in the appropriate area of law or to area agencies able to provide assistance.
Persons identified as needing legal representation and who do not claim inability to pay an attorney will be referred by LRIS to a participating attorney. LRIS participation is open to all Bucks County Bar Association members having their primary office in Bucks County. You can contact the LRIS at 215-348-9413.
7 SPRING 2023
Melanie J. Wender
Editor, Bucks Writs
Perhaps the main event to occur with the Bar Association recently is that we said good-bye to our beloved executive director, Greg Nardi. While our loss is someone else’s gain, he left big shoes to fill. However, I think we found the perfect person to do that.
— Melanie J. Wender, Esquire
– Welcome –Heather Cevasco
We are pleased to announce that Heather Cevasco has been selected as the Bucks County Bar Association & Foundation’s new Executive Director, effective Monday, February 13th, 2023. This announcement follows a rigorous and thorough process conducted by the Search Committee & Board of Directors who reviewed many applications and held multiple stages of interviews with numerous well-qualified candidates.
Through both her professional career and volunteer activities, Heather Cevasco has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to building stronger communities across Bucks County and Pennsylvania.
For two decades, Heather worked in the public sector, first serving as District Director for State Representative Chuck McIlhinney and then moving on to become his Chief of Staff as he moved to the State Senate. In those roles, she helped guide a legislative agenda that focused on improving the lives of Pennsylvanians and included new laws to preserve open space, protect jobs in Bucks County, and improve programs and services for low-income state residents. Heather also oversaw a bustling constituent and community outreach and services operation that kept her actively involved with countless Bucks County organizations and residents, working to help them navigate through the maze of state government. She also worked closely with the Amputee Coalition of America to pass a Senate Resolution designating April as Limb Loss Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.
After leaving the public sector, Heather brought her skills to the healthcare industry where she served as Director of Community and Government Affairs for Doylestown Health and to the Bucks County Historical Society as Vice President of Advancement, while also operating her own successful consulting firm, helping small businesses and non-profits with fundraising, government affairs and community relations.
We are pleased to announce that Heather Cevasco has been selected as the Bucks County Bar Association & Foundation’s new Executive Director, effective Monday, February 13th, 2023.
The Intelligencer’s 40 Under 40 Award, which recognized some of
In addition to her professional career, Heather is an active volunteer for numerous community organiza tions. Some of her most impressive work is dedicated to helping individuals with mental health issues and disabilities through her service with the Lenape Valley Foundation as a member of the Board of Trustees. Her efforts on behalf of LVF helped secure funding and recognition for a number of Foundation programs and services. She previously served as Board President and was honored in 2002 as a recipient of the Lenape Valley Foundation President’s Award in recognition of her outstanding commitment as Co-Chair of Branching Out Capitol Campaign.
Heather also served as Chair of the Bucks County Historical Society Board of Trustees where she helped organize fundraising events to support the Mercer Museum and promote education programs for Fonthill Castle.
Her other current and past board and commission memberships through the years include the Greater BucksMont Chamber of Commerce, Bucks County Bar Foundation, Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, Network of Victims Assistance Selective Service Board, Bucks County Emergency Health Council, Bucks County Local Emergency Planning Committee, Children’s Cultural Center of Bucks County and Soroptimist International of Bucks County.
In 2014, Heather was honored as a recipient of the Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer’s 40 Under 40 Award, which recognized some of the community’s most dynamic individuals. She is a resident of Plumstead Township, where she lives with her husband, John.
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For more information call (215) 340-7655 or visit www.bcmac.org.
9 SPRING 2023
ISSUE: 2302 ORG/PUB: Bucks Writs BUCKS COUNTY MEDIATION AND 1711
In 2014, Heather was honored as a recipient of the Bucks
the community’s most dynamic individuals.
New Member Highlights
Zachary Breidenback, associate at Start & Stark, Attorneys at Law
• Practice areas: Commercial Litigation, Commercial Foreclosure, Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights, Bank Workouts
• Education: J.D., Barry University School of Law (Orlando, FL); B.S., Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA)
• Previous jobs: Associate at Ross, Quinn & Ploppert, P.C. in Pottstown, PA
• What you do for fun: Watch/attend Eagles games, travel, explore new bars/restaurants, binge movies/tv shows to an unhealthy degree
• Family: I am an only child, but hope to expand my family by adding a dog someday soon.
• Interesting fact about yourself: I have lots of travel experience. From going inside the pyramids to tubing down the Amazon River to African safaris, I have incredible stories and incredible memories. Feel free to reach out for recommendations!
Ainslie Rhoads, associate at Eastburn & Gray, PC
• Practice areas: Business Law, School Law, Civil Litigation
• Education: Drexel University (2016), BS in Sport Management, Minors in Business Administration and Legal Studies. I was a student-athlete on the field hockey team. Drexel University (2022), JD
• Previous Jobs: Community Relations Intern, Philadelphia Flyers. (2014-2016), Marketing Assistant, University of Pennsylvania Athletics Department (20162017), Marketing Manager/Director of Recruiting, Strive: How You Lead Matters (2017-2019), New Lane Finance
Company – Legal Intern (2021), Eastburn and Gray, PC –Summer Law Clerk (2021)
• What do you do for fun: In my free time, I coach field hockey at Swarthmore College. When I am not coaching, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, and posting up at a good brewery!
• Family: I am getting married in October to my wonderful fiancé, Eli Booge. We live in Chester County, but plan on moving to Bucks County sometime this year. We have a Bernedoodle puppy named Sadie who loves pinecones and long walks.
• Interesting fact: I am the fourth generation of my family to practice law. As you can imagine, our family debates get pretty heated.
Erik Taskin, associate at Antheil, Maslow & MacMinn, LLP
• Practice areas: Corporate and real estate law
• Education: B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a J.D. from James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University
• Previous job: Associate Attorney at Rabinovich Sokolov Law Group LLC
• What I do for fun: traveling, attending comedy shows, tennis, golf
• Family: First generation American. Family is from Ukraine. First person in family to have a higher education.
• Fun fact: I got married in Italy in 2022.
I am the fourth generation of my family to practice law. As you can imagine, our family debates get pretty heated.
From going inside the pyramids to tubing down the Amazon River to African safaris, I have incredible stories and incredible memories.
First generation American. Family is from Ukraine. First person in family to have a higher education.
11 SPRING 2023 ISSUE: 2302 ORG/PUB: Bucks Writs MINNESOTA Protecting Your Practice is Our Policy.® Conventional wisdom says, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” MLM thinks otherwise. Lawyers’ professional liability insurance is all we do. As a result of doing one thing, we do that one thing well. Get a Quote Today! Jody Campbell 215-827-8026 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mlmins.com MLM insures legal practices in 15 states, including Pennesylvania. Since 1997, we have been a stable, reliable source of risk management services and professional liability insurance for the lawyers of Pennsylvania. At MLM “here today, here tomorrow” is more than just a motto and our financial strength is your best defense. AD SIZE CONTRACTED: 1/2 H DIMENSIONS: 7.375 " w x 4.833 " h PDF EXPORT SETTINGS COMPATABILITY: Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) | STANDARDS COMPLIANCE: None | GENERAL: Optimize PDF: Off; Create Acrobat Layers: N/A; Export Layers: Visible and Printable Layers; Include Bookmarks: Off; Include Hyperlinks: Off; Export Nonprinting Objects: Off; Export Visible Guides and Baseline Grids: Off; Create Tagged PDF: Off; Interactive Elements: Do Not Include | COMPRESSION: COLOR IMAGES: Bicubic Downsample at: 300 ppi for images above: 450 ppi; Compression: ZIP; Tile Size: N/A; Quality: 8 Bit GRAYSCALE IMAGES: Bicubic Downsample at: 300 ppi for images above: 450 ppi; Compression: ZIP; Tile Size: N/A; Quality: 8 Bit MONOCHROME IMAGES: No Sampling Change for images above: 1250 ppi; Compression: CCITT Group 4; Compress Text and Line Art: On; Crop Image Data to Frames: On | OUTPUT: Color Conversion: Convert to Destination; Destination: Document CMYK - U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2; Profile Inclusion Policy: Don’t Include Profiles; Simulate Overprint: N/A; Output Intent Profile Name: N/A; Output Condition: N/A; Output Condition Identifier: N/A; Registry Name: N/A | ADVANCED: Subset Fonts Below: 0%; Omit PDF: Off; Omit EPS: Off; Omit Bitmap Images: Off; Transparency Flattener Preset: N/A ISSUE: 2302 ORG/PUB: Bucks Writs AD EXPORTED BY BECKY WEAVER DESIGN / BECKY@BECKYWEAVER.COM / 717-615-2243 CAMERA READY: 2302 ROXBOROUGH, SUBURBAN, & LOWER BUCKS F A S T Face Arm Speech Time
Legal Aid Of Southeastern PA
Names New Chief Counsel & Director of Community Engagement & Training
Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP) Executive Director
Shawn Boehringer announced that Carolyn E. Johnson, Esq., will be LASP’s new Chief Counsel, effective Feb. 1, 2023. Erica N. Briant, Esq., has been appointed Director of Community Engagement & Training and started in her new role in January.
Carolyn replaces Kesha James, who became Executive Director for Management Information Exchange (MIE). Kesha served as LASP’s Deputy Director for Advocacy from 2013-2022.
“As Chief Counsel, Carolyn’s focus will be to guide the overall service delivery of the organization and maximize the impact of LASP’s legal work,” Boehringer said. “Carolyn has been a leading legal services bankruptcy lawyer for a number of years and is one of the foremost consumer lawyers in the state.”
Most recently, Carolyn served as Interim Supervising Attorney for LASP’s Regional Housing Unit. The unit assists homeowners who face losing their homes to mortgage foreclosure or tax sale. She is a career legal aid attorney with experience advocating for the legal, financial, and health care service needs of low-income communities.
Carolyn stated, “I look at legal services from a broad perspective, asking, ‘How do we help the overall community as well as individuals?’ and what legal steps would be most impactful for our eligible clients, including their housing, their families, their finances and all the issues that impact them.”
She cited some of LASP’s newer areas of focus: expungements, disaster legal aid in response to Hurricane Ida, and veterans advocacy. “I’ve found this organization to be responsive to the community. I have been impressed by that,” she said. Looking forward, Carolyn anticipates an increased need for LASP services due to inflation and the end of pandemic programs that provided economic support to people with low incomes.
Carolyn is the former Executive Director of Community Impact Legal Services (CILS) and Legal Aid of Chester County, where she directed operations, fundraising, community outreach, messaging, events, and staffing. In 2022, she was an Honoree at LASP’s Fête for Justice. She also has received the Don’t Borrow Trouble Suburban Philadelphia Award and the United Way of Chester County Community Partner Award. Carolyn is significantly involved with community organizations in the Coatesville area. She was the co-founder, and is current President of, the Coatesville Center for Community Health and also serves as President of the Coatesville Area Public Library.
Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP) Executive Director Shawn Boehringer announced that Carolyn E. Johnson, Esq., will be LASP’s new Chief Counsel, effective Feb. 1, 2023. Erica N. Briant, Esq., has been appointed Director of Community Engagement & Training and started in her new role in January.
Erica Briant has been named LASP’s Director of Community Engagement and Training. In this new role, Erica will continue to take expungement cases and lead the Community Engagement Unit. In addition, she will coordinate LASP outreach efforts across Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties from a strategic perspective. Her role in directing staff training will include developing a staff training curriculum as well as identifying training opportunities outside the organization.
She also will work with community organizations and others who wish to have LASP staff provide a training about legal aid services.
Her prior roles at LASP have included Supervising Attorney of the Community Engagement Unit from 2019-22, Staff Attorney from 2016-19, and Equal Justice Works fellow from 2014-16. Erica’s legal work helps clients gain a fresh start through a practice focused on mitigating the collateral consequences of criminal records and legal name changes. While a student, Erica interned, providing legal services related to public benefits, immigration, anti-LGBT discrimination and domestic violence. Before law school Erica was a community organizer in Philadelphia and Peace Corps volunteer in Eswatini. She has traveled to 41 countries.
Erica holds a J.D. from Drexel University School of Law, where she taught the Justice Lawyering Seminar as an adjunct professor from 2016-18. She holds a B.A. from Reed College.
Carolyn can be reached at 484-681-2439 or email@example.com.
Erica can be reached at 484-322-6474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Representation, consultation and expert testimony in disciplinary matters and matters involving ethical issues, bar admissions and the Rules of Professional Conduct
James C. Schwartzman, Esq.
• Judge, Court of Judicial Discipline
• Former Chairman, Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania
• Former Chairman, Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
• Former Chairman, Continuing Legal Education Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
• Former Chairman, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers Trust Account Board
• Former Federal Prosecutor
• Selected by his peers as one of the top 100 Super Lawyers in PA and the top 100 Super Lawyers in Philadelphia
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13 SPRING 2023
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ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY AND ETHICS MATTERS STATEWIDE PENNSYLVANIA MATTERS NO CHARGE FOR INITIAL CONSULTATION ISSUE: 2302 ORG/PUB: Bucks Writs HOFFMAN HOUSE For Advertising Information & Opportunities Contact: Alicia Lee | Alicia@Ho Pubs.com | 610.685.0914 x210 WRITS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE BUCKS COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION the FALL 2016 Judges’ Portraits SPRING 2022 10 STOPS FOR A SPRING GETAWAY BCBA’S NEWEST BOARD MEMBERS WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT SPRING Member Events Are Back! Welcome to the Great Outdoors Publishing Group REACH 25,000+ Engaged Business and Community-minded Leaders Ho mannPublishing.com Advertise in the Writs, the O cial Publication of the Bucks Bar Association
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WE ASKED, YOU ANSWERED:
How does having a pet help your well-being?
A pet can be a great source of comfort and motivation. In many ways, pets can help us to live healthier lives. We asked our members, “How does having a pet help your well-being?” Here are some of our favorite stories and photos.
Our dog Hank was born around Thanksgiving in 2018. Every year when we celebrate his birthday, instead of saying, “Happy birthday,” we say, “Happy HANKSgiving!” We often get asked his breed. Hank is a Cavador, having the best of the qualities of the breeds of a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel (the kind of dog President Reagan had) and a Labrador Retriever. Once Hank gets to know you, he is a friend for life. and will show it with a lot of kisses. Hank is also incredibly intelligent and he often “tells” us
exactly what he wants. The main thing I would say about having a pet like Hank is that the love we receive from him is absolutely 100% unconditional — even when treats are not involved. The strange thing is that even though Hank has been a part of our family for only four years (the photo shows him when he was only about three months old), my wife and I both feel like he has always been in our lives. Many times, just by looking at him, he makes us smile.
– District Judge Gary Gambardella
This is Drake. He lives at HGSK and loves to help. Drake is the first to greet clients at the door to ease their minds and spends countless hours with everyone in the office. He is also quite adept at getting opposing counsel to let their guard down. Drake says adopt an office cat for better health.
– Jason Weiss
My husband, Alex, and I discussed getting a dog for several years. After dealing with some health issues in 2022, I finally decided we needed a puppy. We managed to find a perfectly adorable Shih Tzu that we picked up in October. We named her Pancakes, and we love her dearly. She’s become a regular at my office (now, one of her favorite places and I believe she wishes to be a corporate attorney when she grows up). If she is not at my office or my house, she is mostly likely at Jessica Pritchard’s house, which has become her adopted home and another one of her favorite places to be. Pancakes has definitely changed my life for the better. I will also add that she is incredibly social and loves everyone and all dogs. If anyone needs a dog friend, Pancakes will be the first to volunteer!
– Melanie Wender
Jessica Pritchard’s dog, Henry Danger. He’s dressed up for court, but he looks a little nervous. Danger might be his last name, but he does not live dangerously.
Our Mini Goldendoodle, Archie, not only keeps our family active, but always lightens up the mood with his playful and lovable personality!
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– Megan Weiler
– Susan Dardes with Miss Maisie on her lap
– Life on Jeremy Puglia’s farm
Riley is a bright light in what can be a stressful and demanding job. Her silly antics remind me not to take things too seriously, and she’s always up for a chance to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Riley is also an excellent “Legal Beagle” and is always willing to sit with me while I work, although her typing skills need a lot of improvement!
– Elaine Yandrisevits
As a Roxy Therapy Dog, our golden retriever Scarlett contributes to wellness on a full time basis. Scarlett and her fellow k-9 therapists “work” every day in the schools of the Central Bucks School system, the Justice Center and nursing homes throughout the area providing comfort, support and unconditional love to literally everyone she encounters. It is beautiful and inspirational to see. Nothing makes her happier than putting on her uniform and going to work and no one is ever as happy to see me as they are to see my dog.
– Tom Donnelly
Hello! My name is Dr. John Watson, best friend of Sherlock Holmes, Watson for short. I am a 7-year-old Bernese Mountain dog and I was hired by my mom, Sara Webster at Webster Law, at the very young age of 8 weeks old. At the time I assisted my coworkers with lots of exercise chasing me around the building and then after I graduated from Cambridge’s New Skete’s Dog training school I came back to the office with new skills which I forgot very quickly and continued with my mission of keeping my coworkers in shape and training tenants on how to best keep their food safe so that it’s not stolen by “certain” dogs. These days you will find me participating in all client meetings, not taking notes, but taking naps, asking for well-deserved snacks and belly rubbings or having lunch meetings with my coworker or my mom while taking a walk. There is always lots to discuss. I am called the therapy dog by many as I bring smiles and comfort to those who may be under a lot of stress. I surely enjoy my work very much and the snacks too! Smooches!
Bucks County Attorneys Sworn in with The Supreme Court
By Julie D. Goldstein, Esquire
ON JANUARY 11, 2023, I HAD THE PLEASURE ALONG WITH STEVEN L. ROVNER AND JEREMY D. PUGLIA OF BEING SWORN INTO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT.
This event was a long time coming as a result of the pandemic. We had the opportunity to be sworn in before the full Supreme Court on an argument session day. It was an especially special moment for me, because my father, Daniel Silver, made the motion to the full Supreme Court for our admission. We were each permitted to bring one guest, so we were able to share this special moment with family.
We also had the opportunity to watch oral argument before the Court. While it was not the most exciting case, it was a discussion of Puerto Rican sovereign immunity and an interpretation of PROMESA, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act. I am interested to see how the case is decided.
Interestingly, the security officer for Justice Scalia, who grew up in Bucks County, came down to visit us since he heard a contingent from Bucks
County was in the building. In a non-surprising coincidence, Jeremy and the security officer had many mutual Bucks County connections.
Overall, it was a really special day that I will remember forever. If anyone is interested in being sworn into the Supreme Court and missed the opportunity, please let me know and we can make arrangements for another swearing-in ceremony.
Interestingly, the security officer for Justice Scalia, who grew up in Bucks County, came down to visit us since he heard a contingent from Bucks County was in the building. In a non-surprising coincidence, Jeremy and the security officer had many mutual Bucks County connections.
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Opening of the Assizes
By Melanie J. Wender, Esquire
I cannot believe that it is now 2023. How time flies by when you are dealing with a pandemic! For the Bucks County Bar Association, 2023 was able to start off in a manner like pre-pandemic times. All of our members were able to gather together, once again, for the annual Opening of the Assizes.
Now, I’m sure you have the common question, which is, what is assizes? Well, it is a court that formerly sat at intervals in each county of England and Wales to administer justice for all civil and criminal matters. For the Bar Association, “assizes” basically means the opening of the court. We hold this event to celebrate another year with our Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County and our beloved bench.
This year, the celebration started off with a CLE regarding professionalism. President Judge Bateman and Judge Liller
presented on this topic and were able to give their opinions as to unprofessionalism that they see and how one should present him/herself in their courtrooms. The primary message from their presentation was to be respectful to the judge, his/her staff, your colleagues and anyone else in the courtroom.
Mindy Snyder, Esquire, then presented as chair of the Women’s Law Division. Ms. Snyder discussed issues that women specifically encounter in the profession, such as skewed views of their behavior, more attacks as to their appearance and other discriminatory behavior. Ms. Snyder presented examples of emails she’s received from opposing counsels in the past where she has been referred to as mean, cruel, and other derogatory statements. Ms. Snyder questioned whether she would have received these emails if she were a man and I thought it was interesting food for thought. I will say this, whoever sent those emails
does not know Mindy Snyder because “mean” is not an adjective one would use to describe her. She’s one of the best lawyers to have a case with and, overall, a truly lovely person.
Elaine Yandrisevits, Esquire, then presented as chair of the Young Lawyers Division and made some very interesting points about the experience of young lawyers. One important point that was made was the importance of mentorship and more experienced lawyers reaching out to those younger lawyers and providing guidance.
The last part of the presentation was by Tiffany ThomasSmith, Esquire, who is the chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Ms. Thomas-Smith stated that the Diversity & Inclusion Committee intends to change its name to include “equity” in the title. She made it very clear to us why “equity” should be included. As a Bar Association, one of our goals is to provide equal access to the law for all members. With the Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the bar association, its goal is to provide all members of the community with access to justice. Adding “equity” to the title of this committee allows the title to reflect the committee’s goals.
The Opening of the Assizes then moved to the festivities, which were Super Bowl themed. At that time, we were
all in the throws of Super Bowl fever, shouting “go birds” across the table. The excitement for the Super Bowl brought us all together and we will gather together again in our sadness over the loss. Just remember, this is Philly. We have lost before, but will spring up again.
Hopefully 2024 will bring a Super Bowl win, but it will be hard to top the 2023 Opening of the Assizes.
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Now, I’m sure you have the common question, which is, what is assizes? Well, it is a court that formerly sat at intervals in each county of England and Wales to administer justice for all civil and criminal matters. For the Bar Association, “assizes” basically means the opening of the
We hold this event to celebrate another year with our Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County and our beloved bench.
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2022 ANNUAL MEETING
By Julie D. Goldstein, Esquire
On December 1, 2022, the Bar Association held its Annual Meeting in the Courthouse. As usual, it was preceded by a swearing-in ceremony before the full Bucks County Bench. During the Annual Meeting, we had the pleasure of recognizing our 50-year members: Gordon Erdenberger, Robert Godwin, and William Gross. After our usual business, I had the pleasure of awarding the annual awards. I was happy to present the President’s Award to Elaine Yandrisevits for all of her hard work in helping to make the Association the special place that it continues to be. Michael Lorenz was the recipient of the Mark E. Goldberg Community Service award for outstanding service to his community. The Arthur B. Walsh, Jr. Pro Bono Publico Award was awarded to Amir Stark. Amir is a tireless volunteer for plaintiffs in protection from abuse cases. The William H. Eastburn III Award was presented to Roxy Therapy Dogs who provide an extraordinary service to our community by offering stability and a sense of calm for children who are victims of neglect or abuse as they appear before the court. Finally, the Harriet M. Mims Award was presented to Joanne Murray, who exemplified the award’s characteristics of strength, leadership, integrity, and serving as a mentor to young lawyers.
Following the awards, I had the pleasure to officially hand the gavel to incoming President Lawrence R. Scheetz, Jr.
Larry gave a meaningful speech that discussed his goals for this year as President. Following Larry’s speech, everyone returned to the Bar Association building for an open house reception. The reception was excellently attended and a good time was had by all. There were several “minute to win it” games that livened up the party a little bit. Finally, we were able to continue the tradition of having all of the Past Presidents come up and pass the gavel down from each Past President to Past President. It is a wonderful tradition and shows the continuity of our Bar Association. It was a great start to Larry’s presidency and I look forward to seeing all of the wonderful things that he will do this year. Mark your calendar for this year’s annual meeting, December 7, 2023.
Congratulations to all of our award winners. You make the Bar Association proud for all that you do for the Bar Association and the community as a whole.
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Pro Bono Honor Roll
4th Quarter 2022
THANK YOU for volunteering your valuable time to provide high quality legal representation to Bucks County residents. Your efforts help to ensure that there is justice for all. You obtained final Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders for victims of domestic violence, prepared wills for senior citizens, obtained bankruptcies and expungements to provide someone a second chance, and so much more. Thank you, too, to all those who provide financial assistance through donations and arbitration allowances. Your support increases access to justice. Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP) could not assist as many individuals without each of you.
Morris J. Kaplan
Larry H. Lefkowitz
Kimberly D. Litzke
Ian S. Abovitz
William A. Allen
Chloe M. Boudazin
H. Jeffrey Brahin
Christopher J. Brill
D. Keith Brown
Roger P. Cameron
John F. Cordisco
Susan L. Eisenberg
Maria M. Ferris
Elizabeth Wood Fritsch
Barbara N. Lyons
Amanda G. Malamud
Mary Beth McCabe
Nicholas S. Salter
John N. Schaeffer, III
Carol A. Shelly
Chris Little Simcox
Ronald J. Smolow
Mindy J. Snyder
Francis J. Sullivan
Edward R. Sutton
Stephanie Stecklair Tarantino
Yvette E. Taylor-Hachoose
Thomas J. Walsh
Richard P. Gennetti
Martin N. Ghen
Vincent A. Guarna
Garrett E. Gummer
Melanie J. Wender
Shari Gelfont Williams
25 SPRING 2023 community
— Megan Reinprecht, LASP Community Engagement Unit Staff Attorney & Bucks County Pro Bono Coordinator
MOCK TRIAL: Changing Students’ Lives
By Jennifer Pierce,
The Bucks County Justice Center welcomed back high school students from 17 different Bucks County schools who participated in this year’s High School Mock Trial Competition. The High School Mock Trial Competition, hosted by the Young Lawyers’ Division, was finally back in-person this year after it went virtual in 2021 due to the pandemic. Being back in-person allowed the students to highlight their talents and bring an energy that was sorely missed during the virtual competitions.
A dozen judges from the Bucks County Common Pleas bench and Bucks County’s magisterial district courts sat as presiding judges for 21 trials held between Jan. 10 and Feb. 15. They were supported by over 80 attorneys, paralegals and legal assistants from the Bucks County legal community who volunteered as jurors, bailiffs and judges. Well over 200 hours were donated throughout the competition to ensure that the students could experience presenting their case in-person before a judge and jury. Each judge was kind, patient and instructive, while the jurors were attentive and thoughtful in scoring and providing feedback to the students.
A dozen judges from the Bucks County Common Pleas bench and Bucks County’s magisterial district courts sat as presiding judges for 21 trials held between Jan. 10 and Feb. 15. They were supported by over 80 attorneys, paralegals and legal assistants from the Bucks County legal community who volunteered as jurors, bailiffs and judges.
After the first two rounds of competition, Bensalem High School, Central Bucks East High School, Central Bucks South High School’s two teams, and Council Rock South High School remained undefeated. The third and fourth rounds of competition featured high-caliber performances as Bensalem High School and Central Bucks South High School’s A Team edged out their competitors to reach the final trial of the competition.
Esq., Legal Aid of Southeastern PA Pro Bono
Attorney Stephanie Stecklair Tarantino, who volunteered for several nights of mock trial, explains why the competition is such an important program for many students. Stephanie grew up in a working-class family and was the first person in her family to go to college. Her mock trial attorney coach was the first female attorney she had ever met and “made mock trial a place where I was able to find a voice.”
On Feb. 15, Judge Trauger presided over the championship trial with Bensalem High School taking the title. Because Bucks County had the most teams enter its district competition within the region, Central Bucks South High School will join Bensalem High School for the regional competition to face the winners from Chester and Delaware Counties on March 15. The top two teams from that competition will advance to the state finals.
On behalf of the Bucks County Young Lawyers’ Division, I wish to extend a special thanks to Court Administration and the Sheriff’s Department for welcoming the students back to the Justice Center after a two-year hiatus. I also cannot thank enough all of the volunteers who donated their time to ensure each student had an impactful mock trial experience. For many students involved in the mock trial, it may have been their first exposure to a future career in law.
Attorney Stephanie Stecklair Tarantino, who volunteered for several nights of mock trial, explains why the competition is such an important program for many students. Stephanie grew up in a working-class family and was the first person in her family to go to college. Her mock trial attorney coach was the first female attorney she had ever met and “made mock trial a place where I was able to find a voice.” Her career path shows why “programs like mock trial are so important; they can change a student’s life.”
We wish Bensalem High School and Central Bucks South High School the best of luck in the regional competition, and look forward to welcoming the students back to the Justice Center in 2024 for next year’s competition.
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ISSUE: 2302 ORG/PUB: Bucks Writs VISLOSKY DESK JUDGE JAN VISLOSKY is retiring 1/1/24. She is selling her solid, dark Walnut executive desk. It measures 64” x 64” and includes a 42” typing table with shelf, brass drawer pulls, 2 file drawers, 3 single drawers,
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Lawyer-Therapist Networking Happy Hour
A Lawyerly Book Review
It’s drilled into our heads from the first day of law school: good lawyers must be good writers. The profession requires clear, persuasive communication. Each day presents a new opportunity to improve. (And if you ever need confirmation that you’ve come a long way, go read something you wrote earlier in your career. If it doesn’t make you cringe, read it again.)
Michael Punke, an attorney by education, is a polymath. He served as an appointee to the National Economic Council and National Security Council, as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and as U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Later, presumably when he got bored, he worked as a partner at Mayer Brown and is now a Vice President at Amazon Web Services. In his spare time, he writes. (In my spare time, I lie down. But hey, to each their own.)
His work will knock your socks off. Though Punke is most famous for The Revenant, I would be remiss if I didn’t gently guide you to his latest novel, Ridgeline — a novelization of the 1866 Fetterman Fight at Fort Phil Kearny in the Dakota Territory
By Sarah Steers, Esquire
(present-day Wyoming). The work will shatter your heart into a thousand pieces while simultaneously causing you to curse Punke for his mastery of the English language. The novel has earned – among other awards – the accolades of a descendant whose ancestor, a noted tribal leader, fought in the battle.
A foreboding sense of ruin and sadness clings to each page. Deftly switching between character perspectives provides a multi-faceted account of the weeks leading up to the fight. He loosely fictionalizes Army officers, enlisted men, an officer’s wife, two civilian scouts, and Lakota leaders (including Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and a transgender prophet). The day of the battle is described in unflinching detail. The devastation feels real. Punke deeply respects Native American history, and explains how an uneasy tribal allegiance led to momentary victory. All the while, elders and warriors alike silently confront the fact that the war is lost. Amidst the darkness, Punke carves out poignant moments (conversations between the two civilian scouts; the camaraderie between the young Lakota warriors). A sophisticated reader would appreciate this novel. A sophisticated lawyer would take notes.
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YLD Makes Phone Calls as Santa to Raise Money for Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care
By Gabriel T. Montemuro
For the fourth straight year, the Young Lawyers’ Division (YLD) held its “Phone Calls with Santa” Fundraiser event on December 9, 2022. In exchange for a donation, friends, family members, and other well-wishers signed up children to receive a personal phone call from one of the YLD’s experienced volunteer “Santas.”
In addition to spreading festive cheer and hearing the children’s holiday wishes, the YLD Santas also had an opportunity to employ some of their more lawyerly skills – such as the art of negotiation (one enterprising child asked for a billion dollars), obtaining a continuance (one child requested a video conference), and fielding the occasional discovery request regarding Santa’s very existence…
In total, the YLD was successful in raising $400.00 to benefit the R.J. Leonard Foundation, which is a local non-profit organization that provides programs, mentorships, and resources to young adults aging out of the foster care system. Further information regarding the R.J. Leonard Foundation may be found at www.rjleonardfoundation.org.
The YLD is grateful for all volunteer Santas who made this popular event possible. We are looking forward to hosting this event again in late 2023 and for years to come!
ORPHANS NEED A HOLIDAY PARTY TOO
By Jocelin A. Price, Esquire
Following the December 8th two-hour ethics CLE, “Corporate, Litigation and Planning Ethics in Orphans’ Court,” the Orphans’ Court Section hosted its annual holiday party at Vela in Doylestown. It was a celebrated occasion to once again gather in person. Members of the Section gathered and networked with fellow attorneys and also welcomed the Orphans’ Court Judges and Register of Wills/Orphans’ Court personnel. It was a festive and well attended event to end a productive year.
In 2022, the Orphans’ Court Section met on a monthly basis in a hybrid format with Zoom and in-person meetings offered. The 2022 CLE presentations included: “The Role of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General” by Mary C. Kenney, Esquire; “Electronic Wills in Pennsylvania” by Justin Brown, Esquire; “Guardianship for Incapacitated Adults – the Basics” by Eric G. Marttila, Esquire, Guardianship Review Officer; and “Disability Rights in Pennsylvania” by Robert Lodge, Esquire. At the Bench Bar Conference, the Orphans’ Court Section featured “Estate Horror Stories” presented by Judge Fritsch, Judge Gilman, Dianne Magee, Elaine Yandrisevits, Linda Bobrin and Douglas Wayne. In addition, the Orphans’ Court Section funded scholarships that enabled Orphans’ Court Law Clerks to attend the Bench Bar Conference.
The Orphans’ Court Section continues to meet on the second Wednesday of the month from 12:30-1:30 in hybrid format. All are welcome to attend.
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MY PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND
By Chris Serpico
In early January, my wife Maureen and I embarked on a two-week trip to Israel arranged through Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Doylestown. Our pastor, Father Matt Guckin, was making his fifth trip to the Holy Land on a tour organized by Jeff Cavins, a renowned Bible historian. Although it’s a challenge to provide a comprehensive summary of all the experiences we encountered during our trip, I will try to point out some highlights in this article.
On January 9th, we boarded an El Al airplane in Newark with 25 fellow parishioners for the 10-hour flight to Tel Aviv. We understood that over the next fourteen days we were going to be moving at a rapid pace with the intention of visiting the most important Biblical spots. (Essentially, we were going to visit “Jesus’ greatest hits.”)
We spent our first four nights at a kibbutz on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Although our room was rather spartan, we were filled with a sense of peace and calm standing on the shore that we had rarely felt before. The “Sea” of Galilee reminded me of Lake Seneca and some of the other Finger Lakes in New York. As we traveled around the lake visiting biblical sites in the region, I came to understand how the area figured so prominently in the New Testament. After all, it was in Galilee that Christ found his twelve disciples, calling them from their day jobs as fishermen to become “fishers of men.”
While in Galilee we made a stop in Nazareth, the town where Jesus spent most of his life before moving on to Jerusalem. We learned that in Christ’s era, Nazareth was held in low regard by most Israelites, and I can attest that over 2,000 years later, things haven’t changed much. (Nazareth was by far the dirtiest place we visited on our trip.) One of the highlights of our expedition was renewing our wedding vows (some 39 years after our marriage) at a Church in Cana built on the very site where the Bible says that Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding when he turned water into wine.
We visited the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus addressed the crowd and delivered the Sermon on the Mount described in the New Testament. We saw the City of Tel Dan, the place where Abraham is said to have moved his tribe around 1750 BC. (More than 3500 years ago!!!)
One of the highlights of our expedition was renewing our wedding vows (some 39 years after our marriage) at a Church in Cana built on the very site where the Bible says that Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding when he turned water into wine.
After finishing our stay in Galilee, we drove two hours by bus to the city of Jerusalem. The country of Israel is about 50 miles wide and 300 miles long, about the size of the state of New Jersey, so it’s easy to get around. I was astonished to find out what an agricultural powerhouse Israel is. Most of the land that isn’t desert, about 2/3 of the country, is lush and fertile, and through the industriousness of the Jewish people, Israel has become a leading provider of fruits and vegetables to Europe.
As we arrived on the outskirts of Jerusalem precisely at sunset, the sight of the ancient city laid out below us was a scene I will never forget as long as I live. According to ancient custom, we participated in the traditional toast of bread and wine prior to our arrival at the Olive Tree Hotel located in the Jewish quarter of the city. Today the city of Jerusalem is a sprawling metropolis, but the one that existed in Jesus’ time was much more compact. In fact, most of the Biblical sites are within walking distance. Historically encased on four sides by walls of stone, most of the walls currently surrounding the “old city” were rebuilt by the Turks between 1537 and 1541. The wall most of us are familiar with is the so-called Western Wall. The “Wailing Wall,” as it is known today, is the most holy site in the Jewish faith as it is the last remnant of the original retaining wall that surrounded the Temple before it was destroyed
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by the Romans around 70 AD. On the night I visited, I saw dozens of Orthodox Jews standing by the wall swaying back and forth in meditation as they prayed to God.
Throughout our trip, we visited several beautiful churches built in areas where famous events described in the New Testament are said to have occurred, including the Garden of Gethsemane; the site of The Nativity in Bethlehem; the Room of the Last Supper; and Golgotha — the spot where Christ was crucified and laid in a tomb. I learned that almost all of the churches we visited at these historic sites were built between 1920 and 1940 under the sponsorship of the Catholic Church in Rome. However, some of the excavations conducted at these sites have uncovered artifacts dating back to the time of the emperor Constantine in 350 AD. It struck me that as Americans we tend to look at a building as “ancient” if it dates to the 1700s. But in Israel, we visited ruins that dated back to the time of King David who united the tribes of Israel 1000 years BEFORE the birth of Christ! We even visited the Valley of Elah, where David battled Goliath and felled him with a single rock from his slingshot.
The most moving experience we had was when we visited Yad Vashem, The World Remembrance Holocaust Center. I had the privilege of visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., at one of our Bench Bar conferences years ago, and it was quite impressive. But Yad Vashem is unmatched in illustrating the horrors of the Jewish diaspora during World War II. I was particularly stirred by the Children’s Memorial, dedicated to the more than 1.2 million children killed by the Nazis and the Legacy Trees planted in honor of those who risked their lives to assist their Jewish neighbors seeking to escape the horrors of that time.
When asked to select a single highlight from our trip, there’s no question that our visit to the fortress of Masada was singularly unique. A two-hour bus ride from Jerusalem through the Negev Desert, Masada was originally
constructed to be one of King Herod’s “pleasure palaces.” It was designed as a well-protected fortification where he and his cohorts could “get away” from the pressures of the city. Located on a massive plateau overlooking the Dead Sea, a long winding path equivalent to 26 stories is the only way to the top. It was here in the year 73 AD., that approximately 1000 Jewish rebels took refuge after the the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. To quash any further uprisings, a legion of 5,000 Roman soldiers, accompanied by 4,000 support personnel, converged on the area. For six months the Roman army labored day and night to construct a battering ram tall enough to reach the top of the mountain. However, when they finally managed to break through the stone walls of the fortress, they discovered that the entire group of Jewish refugees had committed mass suicide to avoid becoming slaves of the Romans.
Although there remain disputes between historians and religious archeologists on whether some of the sites claiming to be located on the exact spot where Jesus may have walked and preached, there is no dispute as to two of the places we visited. There is no question that the Garden of Gethsemane is located in the very spot below the Mount of Olives that Christ would have spent the night before his crucifixion. Incredibly, there are 2,000-year-old olive trees still standing that would have been alive all those many years ago when Jesus was alive. Also, the stone steps leading away from the one remaining wall of the original city would most certainly have been the very same steps where Christ would have preached to his followers. It was quite a spiritual sensation to sit on the very same steps where St. Peter and his fellow disciples would have sat 2,000 years ago.
Before my trip to the Holy Land, I had read or listened to a good portion of the Bible, both the Old and New Testament. As a result of my pilgrimage, I can now say that passages from the Bible that I used to see in my mind in “black and white” will henceforth be seen “in color.”
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