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The Brooklyn Bar Association raises a flag for its 150th celebration

February 7, 2022 Robert Abruzzese, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Brooklyn Bar Association celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2022, and to kick off the year, it held a virtual flag-raising ceremony recorded outside of its building on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

“In many ways (the Brooklyn Bar Association) was born into a different world — the end of the Civil War, the end of slavery, was less than a decade old, Brooklyn was its own city, and the legal profession was mostly white and male,” said Attorney General Letitia James, who spoke at the ceremony.

“Yet, the mission of this bar association remains the same — you hold the legal profession and its members to the highest standards, you educate lawyers, you educate the public about lawyers and you fight for a more perfect union,” James continued. “I applaud you for that mission, and I join you in that fight.”

The event was originally planned as being in-person. However, due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the BBA
decided to host the event virtually. A little over 100 attorneys, including many local judges and many past presidents, joined other BBA members on Zoom to watch the event live.

“These are difficult times during a pandemic,” said Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine. “It has kept most of us out of the building physically, but we’ve adapted to a virtual world and so has the bar association. This, too, shall pass with the strength of this organization with the strength of this building, which Avery Okin tells me was purchased in 1928 from a sugar merchant.”

From left: Martin Friedlander, Richard Klass, Joseph Rosato, Steve Cohn, Roger Bennett Adler, Hon. Barry Kamins, Armena
Gayle, Hon. Nancy Sunshine, Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine and Daniel Antonelli.

Hon. Barry Kamins, the former administrative judge for the Supreme Court, Criminal Term, and a past president of the BBA, served as the master of ceremonies. He introduced Father Patrick Keating, who performed the benediction, and then past presidents Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik and Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine, who both gave speeches that reflected on the association’s history.

“Our association has a storied history, one that is shaped by its time,” said Justice Cyrulnik. “In a collection of photos from
the Brooklyn Historical Society, I came across photos of our annual dinners from the late 1940s and 1950. Not a woman in
sight. Lawyers of color? No. How about lawyers under the age of 50? Apparently, there weren’t any. As society has thankfully evolved so have we as an institution.

“During the 40 years, I have been a member, a committee chair, a trustee, an officer and a past president,” Cyrulnik continued. “I have seen the Brooklyn Bar Association seek out and welcome the participation of women lawyers, lawyers of color, LGBTQ lawyers, young lawyers, lawyers of all backgrounds as we recognize the ability to serve our members, to serve the wider Brooklyn legal community, and society as a whole is improved with the active participation of colleagues who have diverse experiences and backgrounds.”

The Brooklyn Bar Association’s Sesquicentennial Presidents Armena Gayle (right)
and Richard Klass.

Beer-Tasting Event

Since the flag-raising ceremony was held as a virtual event, there was no reception held after the ceremony. Instead, members of the BBA have organized a beer tasting scheduled for Monday, March 14.

Beer writer David Nilsen will guide BBA members through a 90-minute virtual tasting of six Belgian beer styles. During the tasting, Nilsen and the members will sample the six beers as he explains their history, their ingredients and the processes that make them each unique. He’ll also discuss the history and modern variety of Belgian beers and how to best enjoy them.

“We wanted to come up with something fun that we thought the members would enjoy even virtually,” said President-Elect Richard Klass. “This way, we can still get together and reminisce about the history of the Brooklyn Bar Association and we can do it safely.”

From left: Joseph Rosato, Hon. Barry Kamins, Armena Gayle and Richard Klass.

150th Anniversary Dinner

The Brooklyn Bar Association is planning a major in-person event for the Spring. On Tuesday, June 7, the BBA will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a dinner at El Caribe.

This will be the first “dinner” event the Brooklyn Bar Association has hosted since its annual dinner back in December 2019. Despite the fact that the annual dinner is the primary source of revenue for the BBA, the last two dinners were forced to be canceled.

The anniversary dinner will be both indoor and outdoor as cocktail hour will be in El Caribe’s beautiful garden patio, and dinner will be held inside. To keep things as safe as possible, the BBA plans to limit ticket sales for the dinner so that social distancing is possible and guests can feel safe.

Tickets for the beer tasting are available now at, and tickets for the dinner will go on sale soon. Look for an announcement coming soon.

Past President Gregory Cerchione.

Robert Abruzzese is the former Legal Editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the current Director of Member Services at the Brooklyn Bar Association. Now as a legal columnist for the Eagle, Abruzzese writes about the BBA and the local legal community. For information about joining the Brooklyn Bar Association, you can reach him via email at [email protected].

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