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Brooklyn Brandeis Society finds its place in Brooklyn’s legal community

September 28, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Officers and directors of the Brooklyn Brandeis Society (from left): Andrew Fallek, Jeffrey Miller, Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik, Hon. Marsha Steinhardt, Hon. Ellen Spodek, Aimee L. Richter and Avery Eli Okin.
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The Brooklyn legal society is made up of many different groups and organizations, some of which have been around since before Brooklyn was even a borough. However, it is one of the newest groups that is quickly gaining membership and respect.

The Brooklyn Brandeis Society (BBS) is a group of Jewish judges, attorneys and other members of the legal community who have come together as an organization to celebrate the culture and heritage of Jewish people.

“We have judges and lawyers [and] we have a number of non-lawyer individuals who are a part of the legal community,” said BBS President Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik. “There are [also] people who are not Jewish. We started with six founding members and are now, as of tonight, at 54.”

The founders of the organization include Cyrulnik, Andrew M. Fallek, Hon. Ellen Spodek, Avery Eli Okin, Hon. Marsha Steinhardt and Hon. Katherine A. Levine. These founding members said that the group was necessary because there were no legal groups representing Jewish jurists in Brooklyn.

“You look around and there are lots of other ethnic groups in Brooklyn who have a very strong and influential presence and the absence of a Jewish organization became very apparent,” Fallek said.

Immediately after the BBS was formed it found respect within the legal community.

“It was great to see other organizations almost immediately recognize us as a bona fide organization,” said Okin. “All of a sudden when you are at an event and they announce all of the presidents of the various organizations, they include Judge Cyrulnik as the president of the Brandeis Society. There has been an acceptance of us being a part of the fabric of the Brooklyn legal community.”

Not only did the group receive immediate recognition, its own members showed how much they cared early on when many showed up to the first BBS event last March despite a terrible snowstorm.

“Our first event was in March when we had a party for the holiday of Purim,” Cyrulnik said. “It was our first event and the conditions were awful; it was the worst snowstorm of the winter, but people still travelled in the blizzard to come to the event. It was incredible.”

The group will officially be a year old in November. It started in the chambers of Judge Spodek with Okin and Cyrulnik drawing up the bylaws and Fallek putting in the work to incorporate the organization. On May 26, 2015 its first officers were elected: Cyrulnik as president, Fallek as president-elect, Spodek and Okin as vice presidents, Jeffrey Miller as the secretary and Aimee L. Richter as the treasurer.

The BBS co-sponsors “Tuesday with Talmud” with the Brooklyn Bar Association and will host regular meetings with guest speakers as well as events that highlight Jewish culture.

Suggestions for upcoming meetings included a night of Jewish comedy and a Continuing Legal Education seminar comparing Civil vs. Rabbinic Law.

“We welcome people of all faiths, or no faith, and all ages,” Cyrulnik said. “As long as they are committed to our mission, we welcome everybody to learn about us as we all learn together.”

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