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Legal Matters

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Supplement to Jewish News July 18, 2016


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Interfaith coalition urges Senate action on Supreme Court vacancy

Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462-4370 voice 757.965.6100 • fax 757.965.6102 email news@ujft.org

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ifteen Jewish groups joined an interfaith coalition in calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. During a conference call Thursday, July 14, 40 national and state religious organizations urged senators to hold a swift hearing and vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland, who is Jewish, to fill the court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Republican lawmakers have vowed to block the nomination process on Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, saying the vacancy should be filled by the next president. “While many of our groups do not take positions on individual nominees, we stand united in our belief that the Senate’s duties regarding Supreme Court vacancies ought to be carried out in a timely fashion,” according to a statement by the coalition. “The Senate’s ongoing delay in fulfilling this responsibility threatens the ability of our government to operate at full capacity and undermines our nation’s commitment to the pursuit of justice and democracy.” The Jewish groups signing on to the statement are the Anti-Defamation League, Bend the Arc, Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Shamayim V’Aretz Institute, Women of Reform Judaism, Union for Reform Judaism, Uri L’Tzedek, Hadassah New Orleans, The Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New Haven, Connecticut, the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, California, Temple Sinai in New Orleans, and the national and local chapters of National Council of Jewish Women. (JTA)

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LEGA L M ATTE R S

Business & Legal Society to merge with Maimonides Society

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he United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Maimonides Society and Business & Legal Society are about to join forces. Beginning with the 2017 Annual Campaign, the new entity will be called the Society of Jewish Professionals. Since their respective beginnings, Maimonides and Business & Legal shared parallel missions— to bring together constituents from similar professional backgrounds to provide value-added programming and networking opportunities. After discussions with leadership from both societies, a decision was made to combine the groups. Creative and energetic programming for all Jewish professionals will

continue to be offered. The Society of Jewish Professionals will be dedicated to educational, social and philanthropic activities. This new society will provide unique opportunities for collegial socializing and networking, while integrating Jewish concerns. The Society of Jewish Professionals is committed to the Federation’s mission of strengthening Jewish life and assisting those in need locally, in Israel, and around the world. The society’s first event is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13. For more information or to get involved, contact Alex Pomerantz at a p o m e ra n t z @ ujft.org or Jasmine Amitay at jamitay@ ujft.org.

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LEGA L M ATTE R S First Person

Planning for your future to include your Jewish community Scott Kaplan, president and CEO, Tidewater Jewish Foundation

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ou may believe that “estate planning” is only for the wealthy. Maybe you think it is too expensive or that you will not have an “estate.” Possibly you think Scott Kaplan you are too young or healthy or you just don’t want to think about it now. Consider this: How much time do you put into planning a family vacation? Don’t you owe it to yourself and your family to plan for your future NOW?

your future AND take care of your community. For example, planning may include talking with Planning a professional advisor— • Your marital status has estate planning attorney, changed may include talking financial advisor, and/or • You’ve welcomed accountant—and worka new child or with a professional ing in partnership with grandchild the Tidewater Jewish • You’ve sold or puradvisor—estate planning Foundation to explore chased a business how your Jewish com• Your plan was created too long ago attorney, financial advisor, munity can be included in that planning. and you don’t recall You may consider your the details, or and/or accountant Jewish community as one • You want to include or of your children…something modify a gift to charity. that you have cared for during your lifetime that you want to see Planning can take place in your 20s or thrive for the next generation. In fact, in your 90s with multiple ways to secure It may be a good time to prepare or update your estate plan if:

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there may be one or more Jewish organizations (like having more than one child) that you care about and have supported for many years. While there are myriad options to consider when planning, two are: • A charitable bequest is one way to ensure Jewish continuity through a simple codicil (amendment) to your will to benefit a synagogue, the Federation or any agency. This bequest may provide a specific cash gift, a percentage of your estate, or remaining assets of one’s estate. Bequests, like other gifts, can be designated for many purposes or given without restriction. Designating a bequest that creates a single fund at the Tidewater Jewish Foundation can provide annual support to various community agencies as you may desire. • Designation of a portion of your retirement plan assets (IRA or 401k) is another easy way to establish your legacy. Too often, income taxes imposed on these plans make them a poor choice for passing on to your heirs. As charitable gifts, however, retirement plans can be powerful tools for endowing a charitable legacy to the community. By careful planning during one’s lifetime, a loving parent can make a sizeable gift to the community that could otherwise create a heavy tax burden on heirs. You are never too young to make plans for the future. Contact your attorney or financial professional for guidance on how best to ensure your legacy or contact Scott Kaplan, president and CEO of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation at 757‑965‑6109 or skaplan@ ujft.org to schedule a confidential conversation to explore how to make a difference in your community and leave a lasting legacy.


LEGA L M ATTE R S Jonathan Muhlendorf charts new course with Envision Wealth Management

Jonathan Muhlendorf

“Wealth management with heart and soul.”

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hat’s how Jonathan Muhlendorf, a member of the Tidewater Jewish community and Ohef Sholom Temple, describes his new operation, Envision Wealth Management. Muhlendorf works with highnet worth families as it relates to investments and charitable giving, specializing with physicians, business owners and retirees. At Envision, Muhlendorf, 39, takes a different approach than many wealth managers. “Before we ever discuss investments, I want to understand my clients’ thoughts and feelings about their money,” he says. “We look at the emotional side of their finances and explore what they hope to accomplish.” After the holistic conversation, Muhlendorf, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), builds a complete wealth management plan. As a fiduciary, he has the client’s best interest in mind—not his own. Moreover, Muhlendorf considers himself a “personal CFO” because he prefers to oversee the entire financial picture. That means he builds a team for each client to include attorneys and accountants, and he coordinates efforts

between each party. “Often, I review standard contracts drafted by attorneys and suggest changes in the language that better reflects the needs of my clients,” he says. “I want to be the architect of their financial life, and that means I need to be their advocate at all times.” With a plan in place, Envision then builds a personalized website for each client, which allows clients to see their investments in real time. In addition, the site includes a “digital vault” where clients can store items like copies of tax returns, estate planning documents and even a passport should clients ever lose the physical version on a trip. A graduate of Norfolk Academy and the University of Virginia, Muhlendorf spent several years in Washington, DC as an accountant before returning home. In that time, he provided tax work and financial planning for wealthy families including an NFL team owner, a former IRS commissioner, a Supreme Court Justice, a governor and a member of The Federal Reserve Board. Time in the nation’s capital made Muhlendorf an expert on wealth management for high-net worth individuals. That’s why the journal, Medical Economics, named him one of the “Best Financial Advisers for Doctors” in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. He’s the only adviser on the list who lives in Tidewater. Muhlendorf resides in the East Beach section of Norfolk with his wife and two children. He’s committed to the area, the local Jewish community and the idea that a wealth manager must first understand the “heart and soul” of a client’s investment strategy. “I want to make the wealth you’ve created last a lifetime,” he says. “To get there, it takes trust, a team approach and a complete focus on your needs.

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LEGA L M ATTE R S

THE VERDICT IS...

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he human body is made to move and not sit for long periods of time.

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LEGA L M ATTE R S Restrictions against Pollard are “vindictive and retaliatory,” his lawyers claim

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he strict parole restrictions placed on Jonathan Pollard are “vindictive and retaliatory,” his attorneys said in a brief filed with a U.S. federal court. According to the brief filed July 7 with the District Court for the Southern District of New York, the U.S. Parole Commission failed to prove that Pollard

continues to carry classified information in his head 31 years after he was jailed for passing classified documents to Israel while working as a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy. A court filing on behalf of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in June said the U.S. intelligence community

favors continued restrictions on Pollard, arguing he could still damage U.S. interests by revealing methods and identifying characteristics of U.S. assets. The Parole Commission’s decision not to file any of its documents on a classified basis “also demonstrates that the only reason it imposed the onerous Special

Conditions on Mr. Pollard is out of a vindictive and retaliatory motivation to punish Mr. Pollard for voicing his desire to live lawfully in Israel upon his release after 30 years in prison,” the Pollard brief reads. “Retaliation is not, however, a rational or lawful basis for special conditions of parole.” (JTA)

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LEGA L M ATTE R S

What was Ruth Bader Ginsburg thinking in criticizing Donald Trump? Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA)—What was RBG thinking? U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg launched a broadside against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump this month, calling him unfit for office. She subsequently apologized, but not before voices on the right and left criticized her for seeming to compromise the high court’s dignity and objectivity. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg needs to drop the political punditry and the name-calling,” The New York Times editorial board said. The Washington Post agreed. Even her most ardent fans were at a loss to defend her descriptions of Trump as a “faker,” criticizing his failure to hand over his tax returns and saying his presidency would be too dire to contemplate. “I adore Justice Ginsburg,” Robert Wexler, the former Florida congressman whose autobiography is titled Fire-Breathing Liberal, says. However, he adds, “It’s fair to say Mr. Trump doesn’t bring out the best in people.” Truth is, there isn’t much wiggle room for a defense: The American Bar Association’s ethical guidelines say flat out that a judge “shall not publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for any public office.” Not that the ABA guidelines have much practical consequence in this case: Supreme Court justices are inviolate—once they’re in, they’re pretty much in until they want to leave, or they die. Ginsburg, 83, however much this taints her legacy, will remain a fixture of the court.

“Judicial ethics prohibit candidates from commenting on public office,” says David Bernstein, a legal scholar who opines for the Washington Post. “Even though the Supreme Court justice are not bound by the code,” Ginsburg’s outburst “does not reflect the consensus. It was wildly inappropriate.” So, What was she thinking? Here are some theories: She’s losing it. Trump was characteristically blunt. “Her mind is shot—resign!” he said on Twitter. Barney Frank, a longtime member of Congress and a liberal who extols Ginsburg’s legacy in advancing rights for women, says it is painful to admit, but Trump may have a point: It might be time for Ginsburg, 83, to go. “I’m afraid it’s a sign she stayed too long and she’s not functioning,” Frank says. “I can’t imagine she would have made this mistake 15 years ago. It diminishes her legacy.” Frank, who retired in 2013, says he was chided by friends for leaving office at the peak of his influence. Just three years earlier, the Massachusetts congressman and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., had rewritten the rules for how Wall Street works with their Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. “I retired a couple of months short of my 73rd birthday,” he says. “I said I wanted people to ask why I quit, not why I didn’t quit.” Ginsburg, he says, should have quit several years ago, when the Obama administration would have guaranteed a liberal replacement.


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LEGA L M ATTE R S

Sometimes you’ve got to break the rules. The prospect of a Trump presidency is so dire, ethical considerations seem to lose some of their urgency in this case, says Mark David Stern, who covers the law and LGBT issues for Slate. “Donald Trump is not an ordinary presidential candidate, or an ordinary Republican,” Stern wrote. “He is a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic bigot. He has proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States; called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals; supported the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants; routinely treated women with sexist disdain; advocated for torture of suspected terrorists; and generally dismissed the rule of law.”Ginsburg, he says, was right to

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“sacrifice some of her prestige in order to send as clear a warning signal about Trump as she possibly can.” Everyone does it. Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, wrote on Bloomberg News that the rules Ginsburg was ostensibly violating were mostly honored in their breach. He listed open clashes between Supreme Court justices and presidents dating to John Marshall, who as secretary of state campaigned for John Adams in his unsuccessful bid for reelection in 1800. Thomas Jefferson won the election, but before he took office, Adams named his friend chief justice while keeping him as secretary of state. Marshall stopped being

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secretary of state once Jefferson was inaugurated, but remained a notable thorn in Jefferson’s side as a justice. Besides, wrote Feldman, “Doesn’t everyone have an outspoken Jewish grandmother?” In Politico, Linda Hirshman, who has written a book about Ginsburg and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, came up with two Jewish precedents for judicial politicking. Abe Fortas, a justice in the 1960s, routinely consulted with President Lyndon Johnson on matters personal and political, and didn’t bother to deny it to seething congressional Republicans who denied him the chief justice spot in congressional hearings. Louis Brandeis, Hirshman wrote, the first Jewish Supreme Court justice, paid Felix Frankfurter to advance his favored progressive causes after Brandeis joined the court in 1918. Frankfurter—for whom, coincidentally, Feldman’s professorial seat is named—became the third Jewish Supreme Court justice in 1939.

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This keeping shtum can be aggravating, especially for born loudmouths. Ronald Halber, the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Washington, D.C., says he was simultaneously appalled by Ginsburg’s jeremiad but also sympathetic. He was reminded that Jewish community professionals, writ much smaller, face the same dilemma as judges. They are naturally opinionated folks who take on roles that keep them from pronouncing their opinions. “Nonprofit directors who I work with engaged in public affairs work and engaged in communications work would love to state political opinions —and people who run JCRCs are truly political,” Halber says. “But we keep them to ourselves. I never once publicly announced who

I would support for a candidate, and Justice Ginsburg has a much more important role. If you’re going to keep community, or project impartiality, you can’t project your opinion.” Donald (and the Republicans) started it. Dahlia Lithwick, who writes about the courts for Slate, says Trump has joined Republicans in a jihad against the courts—a lot to bear for those in the legal profession. She lists the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, and the attack by Trump on the Mexican heritage of a federal judge as two examples. “By speaking up for a judicial branch that has absorbed one body blow after another in recent months, in stoic squint-eyed black-robed fashion, she did nothing but level the playing field,” Lithwick says of Ginsburg. “If the court is really going to be fair game in the nihilist rush to break government, she is signaling that the court may just need to pick up arms and fight back.” Bernstein, whose Washington Post columns reflect conservative and libertarian views, has some sympathy for exasperation with Trump, but says Ginsburg had nonetheless crossed a red line. “Almost everyone I know who is a member of the same class she is, is very troubled by Trump, including conservative and libertarians,” he says. “While everyone knows politics is not absent from the Supreme Court, they at least try to make the effort.” Ginsburg, in her apology, appears to come around to that view. “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office,” she said in a statement. “In the future, I will be more circumspect.”


LEGA L M ATTE R S Families of US citizens killed in Israel terror attacks sue Facebook for $1 billion

T

he families of five American citizens killed in terror attacks in Israel are suing Facebook for $1 billion, accusing the social network of providing material support to Hamas for its incitement and violence. Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, an advocacy organization based in Israel, filed the lawsuit this month in Manhattan federal court. The suit alleges that Facebook is violating the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act by assisting terror groups such as Hamas in “recruiting, radicalizing, and instructing terrorists, raising funds, creating fear and carrying out attacks.” The lead plaintiffs have been identified as Stuart and Robbi Force, the parents of Taylor Force, a graduate

student at Vanderbilt University and a U.S. Army veteran who was killed in March in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv. Force had been on a school trip to Israel to study the tech industry. “Facebook has knowingly provided material support and resources to Hamas in the form of Facebook’s online social media network platform and communication services,” the plaintiffs alleged in a statement. “Hamas has used and relied on Facebook’s online social network platform and communications services as among its most important tools to facilitate and carry out its terrorist activity.” Facebook did not comment on the lawsuit when asked by news outlets. (JTA)

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