Brandeis Society hosts Law Day Shabbat at Mount Sinai
The Brooklyn Brandeis Society held its annual Law Day event on Saturday, during which it invited attorney Kent Yalowitz to speak at Congregation Mount Sinai.
Law Day is a nationally held event meant to celebrate and reflect on the role of law in the U.S. The Brandeis Society celebrates it slightly differently as it tries to include religious issues in its day.
“For the last four or five years, we’ve had this Law Day Sabbath,” said Brandeis Society President Andrew Fallek. “It’s not unlike what the other organizations do, but there is a particular Torah portion that deals with the law and our speakers always include a religious theme.”
This year, the Brandeis Society invited Kent A. Yalowitz, who recently led a trial team that secured a $656 million jury verdict against the Palestine Liberation Organization in favor of 11 American families injured in terrorist attacks. It was the largest personal injury jury verdict ever reached in the Southern District of New York.
However, the organization appealed on the basis of jurisdiction and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, reversed the decision. A group of Congress members and senators sued to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, but it declined.
“Kent is a lawyer from a big Washington, D.C. firm that has offices in New York,” Fallek said. “He was great. It was a very interesting topic and he’s a great public speaker. He presented the case to us as you might an opening statement. It was compelling and everyone was listening very intently.”
Yalowitz said that the U.S. Supreme Court consulted the Trump administration when it decided whether or not to review the case and explained that he was shocked that it decided against reviewing the case.
“Had this been the previous administration, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had said, ‘Don’t take the case. The Palestinians are our friends,’” Yalowitz said. “But I’m shocked to see that the Trump administration took the same view. And that is the status of the case today.”
“We’re working with Congress and [Brooklyn’s own] representative, Jerrold Nadler, to try to restore jurisdiction of U.S. law in incidents of overseas terrorism. That is our hope. We’re not looking to solve this problem or try to stop terror altogether … but we are trying to make the world a little bit of a better place.”
Fallek said that members wanted to bring in an attorney who was using the rule of law to help fight terrorism and that the Yalowitz gave everyone to think about. Most importantly, Fallek said, it got lawyers to the synagogue.
With additional reporting by Andrew Katz.
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