Brooklyn Brandies Society discusses rise in domestic terrorism at Hanukkah luncheon
Lucy DiSalvo honored for work behind the scenes of Brooklyn Bar Association
The Brooklyn Brandeis Society held its fourth annual Hanukkah Luncheon to kick off the start of the eight-day holiday on Monday at the Brooklyn Bar Association, where approximately 60 members got together to have lunch.
As they have during past events, the group shared latkes and jelly donuts while Rabbi Hanniel Levenson spoke about the history of Hanukkah. Once he was done, president Andrew Fallek took to the podium to discuss what he sees as a troubling rise in domestic terrorism.
“Those of you who are not Jewish may recognize that many of our holidays deal with anti-Semitism in some form or another, so I feel that I should say a little bit about Pittsburgh,” Fallek said. “I guess we all have different ways of dealing with these kinds of things. There were memorial services throughout Brooklyn and other places and, frankly, my wife said, ‘Why don’t you do something?’”
Fallek spoke about similar issues in the 1960s and 70s, when domestic terrorists used government organizations to infiltrate Jewish groups. He said that the Brandeis Society would like to work to ensure that the government is instead working to protect Jewish groups.
“The government has largely abrogated — and in some ways delegitimized — its role in terms of monitoring domestic terrorism, people who are American, who would do us harm,” he said. “As lawyers, we need to look a little more closely to monitor … the people who say, openly, that they wish us harm.”
Fallek said that the most troubling aspect of the recent growth in anti-Semitism is how open some of these groups are with their dangerous rhetoric. He said that he would like to see the government play a more active role in monitoring people and groups who use such hateful language.
“We’ve been working with the New York State Bar Association and incoming president Hank Greenberg, who was the president of his own Synagogue, to take a look at legal means of preventing these kinds of events from happening,” Fallek said. “Getting law enforcement in a responsible way back on the job of securing Jewish people. I’m hopeful that, with the help of the state bar, we can move ahead to make Jews and everybody safer.”
Fallek also discussed some tentative plans for upcoming events in the late winter and early spring. The group is working with Hon. Jeffrey Cohen of the Appellate Division to host an event at the Second Judicial Department. There are also plans for a trip to West Point in the works.
“I don’t know how many of you have been up there,” Fallek said of West Point. “It’s magnificent on so many different levels. It’s a beautiful place to be on a spring day. There are some Jews there, there is a chapel with a rabbi, and we think it would be a fantastic event to get people together for a trip.”
Fallek and the group also recognized Lucy DiSalvo, who helps to plan events for multiple bar associations in Brooklyn, including the Brandeis Society.
“What are people 1,000 or 2,000 years from now going to find when they excavate Brooklyn?” Fallek asked. “We don’t have tombs, so they’ll have to sift through emails and letters, and they’ll probably find that Downtown Brooklyn was governed for about 40 years or so by Lucy DiSalvo.
“Just like an iceberg, we’re the 10 percent that you see, but Lucy is the 90 percent under the water helping to organize events and make sure that flyers actually go out so people show up to these parties.”