in the Jewish community
Supplement to Jewish News June 30, 2014 jewishnewsva.org | June 30, 2014 | Jewish News | 13
profession often comprised of activists, the community of Jewish
attorneys in Tidewater is known for its activity not just in the courtroom, but also in boardrooms and classrooms and political arenas throughout the region. In this special section, we profile several local Jewish attorneys who exemplify the commitment and subtle expression of Jewish values that reaches beyond
Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. 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 email@example.com www.jewishVA.org Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Laine Mednick Rutherford, Associate Editor Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus
their families and friends—to clients, the greater community in general, and, in some cases, far beyond Tidewater’s watery boundaries. David Cardon, Lonny Sarfan and Debbie Mancoll Casey are three area lawyers who share a list of their activities in the Jewish community, as well as some of
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their strongest Jewish-associated memories. Attorneys like these raise the bar, so to speak, of admiration for other legal professionals, and their humility and stories are inspirational. Another story in this Legal section
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highlights an attorney who no longer practices law. Why include Jody Wagner’s profile? Because her insights about the transition from high-powered attorney (and government appointments and a stint in politics) to small business owner are fascinating, and refreshingly honest. Wagner could be the female protagonist of a novel, but she really did trade in her partner’s salary, power suits and swanky offices to become—a popcorn maven. Pop on over to the next pages, and read more about robots, legal issues in Israel and, of course, the U.S., as well as about the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s own Business & Legal Society—grab a healthy snack (popcorn?) while you’re at it, The staff of Jewish News
14 | Jewish News | June 30, 2014 | jewishnewsva.org
About the cover: Photograph of Jody Wagner at Jody’s Popcorn headquarters by Laine Mednick Rutherford. QR code generated on http://qrcode.littleidiot.be
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From corporate law to the Capitol to caramel corn: Jody Wagner’s journey continues article and photos by Laine Mednick Rutherford
afting through the air on 31st St. near the corner of Atlantic Avenue, stronger than the smell of the ocean and more enchanting than the aroma of suntan lotion, is the scent of freshly popped popcorn. That memorable smell draws people into Jody’s—the gourmet popcorn shop that’s become a destination for many tourists and locals—who buy a bag of caramel or chocolate drizzle corn to eat on the spot, and a bag, or two, or 10, to take home. Which is just how Jody Wagner, the store’s namesake and president, intended it when she and her husband, Alan, opened their business in 2005. What Wagner didn’t intend was making Jody’s Popcorn a career—which it has become for her. “I thought it was just going to be this little, simple side business,” says Wagner, who, in addition to running the company, is the secretary of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation, a past president of Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, and a past vice-president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, in addition to numerous other board and volunteer positions. Jody’s has proven to be more complicated, time consuming, and, Wagner emphasizes, “real” then the cute little grab and go popcorn shop retail store the Wagners initially envisioned. Most days, Jody Wagner puts in about 10 hours at Jody’s Popcorn headquarters, an 8,000-square-foot Kosher-certified, gluten-free facility off of Birdneck Rd. She also attends industry trade shows throughout the year. (Alan Wagner is busy, too; he’s a board certified ophthalmologist specializing in vitreoretinal surgery and founder of the Wagner Macula & Retina Center). Working in a building where popcorn crumbs are a given and equipment repair is never ending, Jody Wagner is worlds away from where she thought she’d be at this point in her life, and from her past careers
and workplace environments. From 1980 through 2002, Wagner worked as a successful lawyer, becoming a partner specializing in securities, corporate and banking law at Kaufman and Canoles in Norfolk. “I never anticipated leaving the legal field,” Wagner says. “That wasn’t something I planned on doing, or tried to do. I loved practicing with my partners. It was a great firm, it was just that my direction went a little different then expected.” In 2002, Wagner accepted an appointment from Governor Mark Warner to become Virginia’s State Treasurer. Her tenure in Richmond continued in 2006, when Governor Tim Kaine chose her to be Virginia’s Secretary of Finance. Wagner resigned her Finance position in 2008 to enter politics. She won the run-off in the Democratic primaries to become the party’s Lt. Governor candidate, and spent a year on the campaign trail. While she didn’t win the election, she did earn respect and recognition from voters throughout Virginia and beyond—and ironically, she says, not necessarily for her highly regarded legal and government jobs. “The funniest thing is, when I ran for Lt. Governor, the experience quotient was that I’d been Secretary of Finance under Kaine and State Treasurer under Warner. But some people I’d meet seemed to be sort of disinterested,” says Wagner. “Then I’d say, ‘And I run a gourmet popcorn company,’ and they’d say, ‘Oh, really!’ In fact, I had volunteers who were getting petitions signed to get me on the ballot, and this one guy in Northern Virginia told me, ‘Truthfully, people didn’t really care about signing until I told them you had a gourmet popcorn company.’ It was then that I became real to them,” says Wagner. Wagner has proven her abilities to manage multiple responsibilities and career commitments at the same time. Jody’s 31st St. retail store opened during her appointments in Richmond, the business
moved into its headquarters and manufacturing plant during her campaign year, and she and Alan are the parents of four very accomplished children: Rachael, Jason, Lizzie and Max. Wagner says she has learned things she never really thought about before, or didn’t need to know, such as what a pallet is, or that Jody’s kernels come from nonGMO corn grown in the Midwest, or learning—through error—the importance of FedEx and UPS’ dimensional weight rules. She dresses casually for work, lauds her dedicated management staff and the 10 or so fulltime employees who operate the giant popcorn popper, conveyor belts, caramelizing vat, bagging machine, labels, and assorted bags of popcorn that share building space with her, and Wagner is quite happy and proud to discuss them all. The newly discovered realities and education of being a small business owner are both appealing and quite challenging to Wagner. They provide her with the impetus to increase the wholesale side of the business—in the gift, private label foods and fundraising markets—while still serving customers at the retail store. “I thought about practicing law again after the Lt. Governor campaign ended. When I was doing securities law, the thing I liked the best was that you would get really immersed in a customer’s business, for a three month or six month period, where you knew so much about it…but then, when the deal was over, I would go back to my office and I’d move on to the next deal, so I never felt like I was building something real—something tangible,” Wagner says. “The difference here is, you’re really building a going concern and delivering
something that people actually touch and feel,” she says. “I like being able to watch the development and the growth and feel like we’re creating memories. We’ve had people that email us who get engaged and who say, ‘I did it over a bag of Jody’s popcorn while we were watching such and such a movie,’ and it’s those kind of things that make me feel like I’m affecting lives in a positive way. “I wouldn’t change any of the time that I spent in state government. I really learned a lot there and I really enjoyed it—in law, you’re constantly learning, too, but here, it’s a different kind of learning. “An example of the biggest difference, is when you’re with Kaufman and Canoles, or when you’re with state government, if your computer breaks, you call the IT department and they get right on it. And within a very short period of time, you either have a new computer or they fixed it. “Here, when a computer breaks, someone comes in and says, ‘Jody, our computer broke. What are you going to do about it?’ You suddenly realize all of the little things that businesses have to deal with. It is a completely different perspective. You have a much deeper appreciation for the frustrations that the average businessman goes through, not the big businessman but the smaller businessman. And that makes me so much more realistic.”
jewishnewsva.org | Legal | June 30, 2014 | Jewish News | 15
Fifty years later, rabbis jailed in civil rights protest return to St. Augustine by Dina Weinstein
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (JTA)—For Rabbi Richard Levy, it was an emotional return to this historic northeastern Florida city. The first time Levy came to St. Augustine 50 years ago, he and 15 other rabbis and a Reform Jewish leader endured taunts from segregationists armed with broken bottles and bricks. They were jailed along with other civil rights activists after taking part in protests at a segregated motel. “As I came here and saw the sign that said St. Augustine, I was stunned,” the Los Angeles resident told a standing room only crowd of over 250 people at Flagler College. “I never thought I would come back here.” The rabbis’ June 18, 1964 pray-in outside the Monson Motor Lodge and
Restaurant served as a decoy maneuver for other black and white demonstrators who jumped together into the motel’s segregated pool. Police responded forcefully. Associated Press photos of the angry motel owner pouring acid into the water and of a fully clothed police officer jumping in to haul out the protesters were splashed across newspapers the next day as the U.S. Senate voted to approve the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. Levy was speaking on the 50th anniversary of those events. Of the 17 members of the Reform delegation who were arrested that day, eight are still alive. Levy and five others returned to St. Augustine for commemorative events titled “Justice, Justice 1964” that were organized by the St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society.
The rabbis had come to St. Augustine a half-century ago at the invitation of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose Southern Christian Leadership Conference was working with students and activists to fight Jim Crow segregation in the city. A focal point for the protests was the 400th anniversary celebrations of the city’s founding by the Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez. Blacks had been excluded from the committee that planned the federally funded commemorations. Media coverage of the ongoing St. Augustine protests and the violent resistance to them by segregationists had put pressure on Congress when the Civil Rights Act was facing a filibuster. A week before the rabbis’ protest, King himself had been arrested outside the
Monson Motor Lodge. King penned a “Letter from the St. Augustine Jail” to his friend and supporter Rabbi Israel Dresner of New Jersey asking for help. “We need you down here with as many Rabbis as you can bring with you!” he wrote. The rabbis came directly from the Central Conference of Rabbis meeting in Atlantic City, N.J., where Dresner read the message from King. Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein still remembers the introduction for the rabbis at a church rally, recalling someone saying, “Here come Moses’ people.” Goldstein told The Florida Times-Union, “They all cheered, like I’d just walked across the desert. They were so happy to [see] us; I know they felt so isolated, so endangered.”
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Legal The landmark
Rabbi Allen Secher recalled being shocked by the violence of white law enforcement officials as he and others were hauled off to the St. Johns County Jail. “An officer decided that a young white woman was not obeying his commands,” Secher said. “He turned on his electric cattle prod and shoved it into her rear end. I can still hear her screams.” King had called St. Augustine one of the most violent places he had ever visited. On the 50th anniversary visit, much had changed. The rabbis were feted and welcomed by the mayor and the St. Augustine 450th commemoration officials. “We don’t want you to lionize us,” Rabbi Israel Dresner, 85, told the crowd at the opening panel. “The real heroes are the ones who stayed and fought the battle.” The St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society brought back Levy, Dresner, Goldstein and Secher, as well as Rabbis Daniel Fogel and Hanan Sills, to shine a light on values that motivated the Reform rabbis and their allies in pursuit of justice. The Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C., played a particularly important part in the push for civil rights. The landmark Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were drafted in the RAC’s conference room by civil rights leaders. “From these events we see a coalition of people can change America,” Al Vorspan, the now-retired Reform leader who was arrested along with the rabbis, said in a telephone interview. At the time of his arrest, Vorspan was the director of the Commission on Social Action at the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the URJ’s predecessor. Today, the RAC is mobilizing support for a Voting Rights Amendment Act, a response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder last year that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
The Jewish liberal advocacy group Bend the Arc has launched its own campaign in support of the voting rights legislation. It sent out an email appeal from David Goodman, the brother of one of three civil rights workers—one black, two Jewish— murdered in Mississippi only days after the rabbis’ arrest in St. Augustine. Fifty years ago in St. Augustine, from the cramped and steamy cell in St. John County jail where they spent the night, the Reform leaders penned a letter titled “Why We Went.” Rabbi Eugene Borowitz, today one of Reform Judaism’s most eminent theologians, organized the effort. It was drafted on the back of two sheets of a Ku Klux Klan flier. “Here in St. Augustine we have seen the depths of anger, resentment and fury; we have seen faces that expressed a deep implacable hatred,” the rabbis wrote. “What disturbs us more deeply is the large number of decent citizens who have stood aside, unable to bring themselves to act, yet knowing in their hearts that this cause is right and that it must inevitably triumph.” The six rabbis who came back to St. Augustine read the moving letter aloud to another capacity crowd. Like rock stars, the rabbis signed a blown-up draft featured in an exhibit on the area’s African-American history. The commemorations wound up with a heartfelt concert that brought together a number of clergy and choirs from the St. Paul A.M.E. church and Bet Yam Reform synagogue. Anniversaries, Dresner reflected, are beneficial to revive the memory. “We have not finished the job,” Dresner said. “They are still trying to restrict people of color in voting. They’re cutting early voting, requiring IDs. That generally affects black and Latino voters. There is always more work to be done.”
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jewishnewsva.org | Legal | June 30, 2014 | Jewish News | 17
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Legal David Aaron Cardon Firm: Cardon & Goodman, P.C. Specialty: Traffic Criminal and Personal Injury law Education: B.A. from College of William & Mary; J.D. from University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law Jewish organizations: Past Super Sunday co-chair, past Tidewater Jewish Film Festival co-chair, past participant in Tidewater Couples Project, past participant in Hineni! Currently serves as secretary of executive board of Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and chairman of the Annual Hebrew Academy Golf Tournament. Family: Wife: Elyse Tapper Cardon. Children: Bella (10), Sylvie (8) Avi (6) and Flora (3) all at Strelitz preschool or Hebrew Academy. Favorite Jewish holiday: Shabbat—a day of rest with family and friends every week! Most memorable Jewish milestone/lifecycle event: Bar and bat mitzvah— incredibly meaningful Jewish ceremony marking the transformation of a person from adolescence to adulthood. Most admired Jewish lawmaker: Theodor Herzl, the founder of the State of Israel. Personal legal milestone: Arguing a case before the Virginia Supreme Court just two years out of law school. (Unfortunately, my argument was unsuccessful!) Most memorable case: Recently I was hired to represent a lady for a serious traffic offense. During the trial, I was able to make a legal argument that caused the judge to dismiss the case. After we walked into the hallway, my client asked me what had happened because it happened so quickly, she had no idea it was dismissed! After she cried tears of joy she asked if she could give me a hug. Her reaction makes being an advocate for people so satisfying. How has an understanding and/or commitment to Jewish values entered into your decisions or actions as an attorney?: I have learned that having an excellent reputation is one of the most important qualities. Without it, a lawyer can not be entirely effective. I have learned that to protect my reputation, I must always act with honor, integrity, and civility; attributes I’ve learned from being raised Jewish.
EDWARD S. STEIN “My practice focuses on the planning and administration of trusts and estates. I also handle the formation and representation of corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies.”
ADL welcomes Redskins’ patent revocation WASHINGTON ( JTA)—The AntiDefamation League welcomed the cancellation of the Washington Redskins trademark by the federal patent office. “The decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office represents a significant step forward in fighting prejudice, discrimination and hurtful stereotypes, particularly in the professional sports arena,” the ADL said in a statement after the announcement of the revocation. “The Washington Redskins name is deeply offensive to Native Americans, rein-
forces racial stereotypes, and promotes bigotry,” the statement said. The ADL has joined a number of initiatives to persuade the NFL franchise to change its name, most recently signing a letter to every NFL player to speak out in favor of a change. The patent office’s decision does not immediately deprive the team of rights to the name. The decision must first exhaust appeals, and even in the event it is upheld, the Redskins may be able to invoke some legal protections.
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jewishnewsva.org | Legal | June 30, 2014 | Jewish News | 19
Legal Robots and Jewish Law
Should robots count in a minyan? Rabbi talks Turing test by Adam Soclof
NEW YORK (JTA)—Robots can hold a conversation, but should they count in a minyan? A chatbot at Britain’s University of Reading was heralded this month as passing the Turing test, showing a conversational ability that managed to fool people into thinking it was human. Using the fictional identity of a 13-yearold Ukrainian boy with the name Eugene Goostman, the robot convinced a third of a panel’s members that they were interacting with a fellow human being. While some have expressed skepticism about the achievement’s significance, the advance of artificial intelligence raises profound questions.
“From the practical legal perspective, robots could and should be people,” Rabbi Mark Goldfeder wrote in an article published on CNN’s website in response to the robot’s feat. “As it turns out, they can already officially fool us into thinking that they are, which should only strengthen their case.” Goldfeder, a fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, is working on a book on robots in the law tentatively titled Almost Human. An Orthodox rabbi, Goldfeder spoke via online chat with JTA about whether robots could some day be welcomed as members of the Jewish community and what the Jewish tradition has to say about this issue JTA: What got you so interested in the topic of robots in Jewish law?
Goldfeder: It was a natural evolution from apes actually. I started off looking at the line between humans and non-humans in Jewish law, and realized that the demarcation was not as clear cut in ancient times as appears to be now. Throughout the discussions in rabbinic literature we find creatures like Bigfoot, mermaids, centaurs, etc., and yes the golem, who in many ways resembles a robot. Once you assume it may not be a strictly speciesist argument, the move from great apes to robots is quite understandable—
given, of course, the caveat the robots may not be technically alive in the classical sense. What are the basic criteria that would make a robot/monkey/mermaid Jewish? Well, we start with the Talmud in Sanhedrin, which tells us the story of Rava sending a golem to Rabbi Zeira. Rabbi Zeira ends up figuring out that the golem was not human—it couldn’t communicate effectively and couldn’t pass the Turing test, apparently—and so he destroys it. The halachic literature asks why this was
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Legal not considered “ba’al tashchis,” wasteful, since maybe the golem could have counted in a minyan. While they conclude that this golem at least was not able to be counted—they leave open the possibility of a better golem counting—it seems then that creation by a Jewish person would give the golem/ robot presumptive Jewish status. For living things there is always parentage and conversion. I should of course clarify that this entire discussion is “l’halacha v’lo l’maaseh,” a theoretical outlaying of views. Good clarification, though being a robot seems like a convenient excuse to opt out of a bris. In halachic terminology we would consider him “nolad mahul” (i.e., it is like he comes from the factory pre-circumcized). Theoretically speaking, say a robot walked into your office and said, “Rabbi, I want to count in the minyan.” Would that be enough evidence for you to count him? Not necessarily. For the purposes of this discussion, I would accept the position of the Jerusalem Talmud in the third chapter of Tractate Niddah that when you are dealing with a creature that does not conform to the simple definition of “humanness”—i.e. born from a human mother or at least possessing human DNA, but it appears to have human characteristics and is doing human things—one examines the context to determine if it is human. When something looks human and acts human, to the point that I think it might be human, then halachah might consider the threshold to have been crossed. This makes sense from a Jewish ethical perspective as well. Oftentimes Jewish ethics are about the actor, not the one being acted upon. If I see something that for all intents and purposes looks human, I cannot start poking it to see if it bleeds. I have a responsibility to treat all that seem human as humans, and it is better to err on the side of caution from an ethical perspective.
jewishnewsva.org | Legal | June 30, 2014 | Jewish News | 21
Israel’s marriage blacklist said to break privacy laws by Ben Sales
JERUSALEM (JTA)—When she decided to split up from her husband, she went before an Orthodox rabbinical court and, after two perfunctory hearings and little discussion, received a religious writ of divorce. It was only months later that the woman
learned that the court had flagged her as an adulteress and placed her on a little-known list that, in accordance with biblical law, prohibited her from remarrying her ex-husband or her alleged paramour. The allegation, which the woman declined to address directly, had never been raised during court proceedings. She
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22 | Jewish News | June 30, 2014 | Legal | jewishnewsva.org
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only learned of it from a clause in the divorce papers she received in the mail. “They accused me of adultery without any basis for it,” the woman, who asked that her name be withheld, says. “I was in shock. I didn’t know where it came from.” The woman, who has petitioned the Supreme Court to have her name removed from the list, is one of more than 5,000 Israelis included on a list of people restricted from marrying based on prohibitions in traditional Jewish law. The list includes children of mothers with non-Orthodox conversions and those who fall into the Jewish legal category known as mamzer, defined as the offspring of certain forbidden sexual relationships, including children of married women who conceive extramaritally and their descendants. Israel’s religious courts, which regulate the state’s Jewish marriages according to Orthodox legal standards, say the list is necessary to ensure marriages are kosher. But a state comptroller’s report from last year says the courts added names to the list illegally. The court “exceeded the limits of its authority,” the report says, by adding people to the list without first giving them a hearing. The practice, according to the report, contravened Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, which provides for a right to privacy and intimacy, as well as what the report called “natural laws of justice.” “The state should not be in the business of blacklisting the children of mamzerim,” says Susan Weiss, the founder of the Center for Women’s Justice, a public interest law group that plans to petition the Supreme Court to eliminate the list. “All this bureaucracy that’s been developed and nurtured around the issue should be eliminated.” The notion of a mamzer—a biblical term often translated as “bastard”—is a controversial one in Jewish law, which allows mamzers to marry only each other. In the past, leading rabbis made efforts to find legal loopholes that would avoid branding someone a mamzer and thereby restrict their marriage options. Enforcing those restrictions in modern Israel makes it exceedingly difficult for someone branded a mamzer by the courts to ever be legally married.
Maayan Arviv, a spokeswoman for the religious courts, says that names typically enter the list after rabbinical courts adjudicate personal status questions necessary to reach a verdict in a related case. A higher court then reviews the decision. Even without a formal register, religious courts would decline to allow marriage between a mamzer and another Jew. But without the list, Arviv says, “the marriage registrar could not exercise its authority regarding eligibility to marry.” Arviv says the courts understand that mamzer is a taboo in the Orthodox community and that the need for discretion is paramount. The list is not publicized, she says, because “the rabbinical courts aren’t interested in people knowing what happens in other people’s backyards or inner rooms.” Arviv declines to comment on the specifics of the divorced woman’s case because it is under review by the Supreme Court. Batya Kahana Dror, who advocates for Jewish women seeking divorce, says that in an earlier era, rabbis rarely classified people as mamzers because details of a person’s origins were typically conveyed by word of mouth and were harder to confirm. “There have been mamzerim throughout history, but no one knew,” Dror says. “But now, the way we save information leads us to the present situation.” Others say the whole concept of mamzer is damaging and rabbis should find ways to eliminate it. “The issue won’t be solved until the community frees itself from the idea that we must exclude mamzerim,” says Rivkah Lubitch, a litigator in the rabbinical court system and a Center for Women’s Justice board member. “It’s hard to say I’m a religious person and support a society that hurts people like this.” Beyond the headaches of her legal battle to clear her name, the divorced woman says that being on the list hasn’t made her life harder. The courts are prohibiting her from marrying only two people, neither of whom she wants to wed. But she is fighting the decision on principle. “An adulteress in my eyes is not an honest person,” she says. “It’s one of the Ten Commandments. How dare they do that?”
As state shifts rightward, North Carolina Jews raise their voices by Anthony Weiss
RALEIGH, N.C. ( JTA)—It was a hot Monday afternoon, but Judy Katzin was standing on the grassy mall outside the North Carolina State Capitol beside the Carolina Jews for Justice banner, as she has many times. Katzin was among hundreds of activists of diverse backgrounds who had come to participate in the week’s Moral Monday protest. This time, however, she had brought a pair of new voices—her grandsons, Carson and Noah Merenbloom. “Most of North Carolina is so conservative,” says Noah, 15. “It’s important to come out here as Jews because we’re a minority.” North Carolina’s Moral Monday protests have garnered national attention as a sign of liberal energy in a state whose politics have shifted sharply to the right. The shift has provoked a confrontational turn in North Carolina politics, with the Republican-controlled state government pushing a strongly conservative agenda and liberal activists responding with acts of civil disobedience at the State Capitol during which hundreds have been arrested. The state’s Jews, a small and traditionally politically low-key community, are speaking with a louder voice. “You’re dealing with a Jewish community in a new era,” says Eli Evans, the author of The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South and the son of a former mayor of Durham, Mutt Evans. “There has been a growth of enormous self-confidence in the Jewish community about politics and about its public stance.” Carolina Jews for Justice was formed in March of 2013, two months after the Republicans took simultaneous control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in more than a century. The new Republican-dominated government immediately set out to implement legislation that would, over time, reduce unemployment benefits, tighten voting regulations, cut state funding for public education, block expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, tighten
restrictions on abortion and, most recently, loosen regulations on fracking. Appalled by these legislative moves, a group of people from local synagogues gathered in the Raleigh living room of Terry Grunwald and started to talk about their options. “We felt we really wanted to have a voice, as Jews, coming out of our Jewish tradition and Jewish ethics,” says Grunwald, a board member of Carolina Jews for Justice. “We felt like we wanted an alternative that would be not tied to any particular local institution, whether it’s a synagogue or a federation.” Shortly thereafter, Grunwald recalls, roughly a dozen of the members went to the legislature to lobby their representatives. While they were there, they noticed a large gathering outside, which subsequently came into the building to protest. “We sat there and watched the first Moral Monday at the General Assembly,” she says, referring to the state legislature. “We felt a very strong pull to be a part of that.” The fledgling Jewish organization quickly joined the burgeoning protest movement. “By the third Moral Monday, maybe the second, we were there with our banner,” says group co-founder Jane Pinsky. “We drew people from all over the state simply because we had a banner that said Carolina Jews for Justice. That gave people a place to coalesce.” However, the new alliance with the protest movement also involved some challenges. The Moral Mondays protests were organized by the president of the North Carolina NAACP, the Rev. William Barber, with the assistance of a number of black ministers with roots in civil rights activism. When Carolina Jews for Justice began to participate, a number of its members were disconcerted by the frequent invocations of Jesus Christ, quotations from the New Testament and the generally Christian atmosphere of the gathering. “To their credit, they were open and listened to people who said we want our community to feel comfortable in these
settings as well,” Grunwald says. Carolina Jews for Justice’s participation, in turn, helped broaden the appeal of the Moral Mondays movement. A group of 12 rabbis signed a letter in support of the protests, and Jewish activists appeared before county election boards to argue in favor of preserving Sunday early voting days,
which are popular among black churches, on the grounds that religious Jews couldn’t vote on Saturdays. “It raises interesting issues for those of us who try to keep church and state apart, but in the South it is useful to have a Bible verse you can deliver,” says Rabbi Raachel
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Jurovics, the leader of a Jewish Renewal congregation in Raleigh who has addressed the Moral Mondays gatherings. The efforts of Carolina Jews for Justice, however, have not drawn universal acclaim in the Jewish community. Some of the criticism has been ideological, with some politically conservative Jews pushing their rabbis not to participate. There are differing views as well over whether or not Jews should protest overtly as Jews or rather simply as citizens of North Carolina. “I really don’t feel like Jews have got to be set up in North Carolina Jews for Justice,” says Stanley Fox, a Democratic former state legislator from Oxford. “There are issues we should be protesting, like cuts in teachers’ salaries, but they have nothing to do with being Jewish or gentile or anything else.” A number of North Carolina Jews had played key roles in the civil rights movement, such as brothers Mutt and Monroe Evans, who helped lead desegregation efforts as the mayors of Durham and Fayetteville, respectively. However, many Jews preferred to keep a lower political profile. “Jews generally tended to be moderates or gradualists,” says Leonard Rogoff, research historian of the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina. “They tended not to be politically involved.” Beginning in the 1960s, the RaleighDurham-Chapel Hill metropolitan area, commonly known as “The Triangle,” became ground zero for a significant shift in North Carolina’s economy and culture. The establishment of Research Triangle Park, a high-tech research and development campus, along with the expansion of the nearby universities of Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State in the capital city all transformed the area into a growth engine for the so-called knowledge economy. That, in turn, brought an influx of highly educated workers from outside the state, including a significant number of Jews. In the Durham-Chapel Hill area, for example, the Jewish population swelled from 545 in 1964 to 3,300 in 1991 and has continued growing since.
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ver the past year, the Business & Legal Society of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater has hosted events that are as wide ranging as the participants who attend them. From a discussion in September with law professor and counterterrorism expert Amos Guiora, who spoke about the First Amendment and national security, to the popular Scoring Big event at Harbor Park in May, where sports executives discussed the proposed arena in Virginia Beach—and attendees caught a Tides game, Jewish professionals are demonstrating their desire to learn, socialize, and network with their peers. Society events are open to all Jewish business and legal professionals, from small-business owners, salespeople, office workers and entrepreneurs, to business executives and world-renowned attorneys. These events provide an opportunity to integrate professional and Jewish interests in a way that ultimately demonstrates the unique contributions those in the fields of business and law can make to support the Jewish community, and the mission of the UJFT. Attorneys Adam White and Kirk Levy are co-chairs of the Society. They lead a steering committee that currently is planning a summer social for August, and has exciting ideas for upcoming events, which will kick off in September. “The Business and Legal Society provides opportunities to broaden your horizons on whatever timely topic we have, and it’s a great way for Jewish business owners, or employees, or Jewish legal professionals, to get involved in the community,” says Levy. For more information, visit JewishVA. org/BusinessAndLegalSociety, Like the UJFT Business and Legal Society on Facebook, join discussions on LinkedIn, or contact shorwitz@ ujft.org.
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Jewish organizations: Current: Ohef Sholom Temple, board of directors; UJFT Women’s Cabinet and Business & Legal Society; Past: have served on boards of Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service and ORT. Family: Proud mother of the three greatest children—Caroline (20), Emily (17) and Ben (14), and part of a large extended family. Favorite Jewish holiday: Rosh Hashanah. It is a time of sweetness and renewal when family and community come back together with a forward look and a great meal, of course. Most memorable Jewish milestone/lifecycle event: My children’s bat/bar mitzvahs. The gifts that our faith and heritage offer through the ages became so clear to me.
Most admired Jewish lawmaker: Golda Meir Personal legal milestone: Fortunately, there have been many, but the real meaning for me is the privilege to work with others who have high standards and are committed to making the world a better place. Most memorable case: They are all memorable. I learn something from each case that helps the next one. How has an understanding and /or commitment to Jewish values entered into your decisions or actions as an attorney?: Tikkun Olam is made for lawyers with its emphasis on social justice and concern for the world. It requires education, advocacy, debate, dispute resolution, truth seeking, ability to understand multiple interpretations and apply guiding principles to our actions and decisions. We are presented with these opportunities and our profession gives us the skills to practice this every day.
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Federal judge’s ruling advances Hamptons eruv A federal judge ruled that markers creating an eruv can be placed on telephone poles in a community in New York’s Hamptons. The East End Eruv Association is seeking to erect an eruv in the Long Island town of West Hampton Beach, in New York. An eruv, a religious enclosure for use on the Sabbath usually marked by nearly invisible wires erected at the height of electricity wires, allows Orthodox Jews to carry items and push strollers on Shabbat. The markers at issue would be placed on about 50 telephone poles out of some 15,000 telephone poles located in the area. The ruling was handed down in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Opponents of the eruv, including many non-Orthodox Jews, had argued that it would change the character of the neighborhood. Similar arguments are being made in Quogue and Southampton, where groups also are seeking to erect eruvs. Proponents of the eruv in West Hampton Beach are affiliated with the Hampton Synagogue, an Orthodox shul led by Rabbi Marc Schneier. The judge must still rule on whether putting up an eruv would violate the establishment clause of the Constitution, which provides for separation of church and state, according to the Forward. (JTA)
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Legal matters in the Jewish Community 6/30/14