The program’s title promised Solomonic wisdom but Shlomo Hamelech, of course, remains the wisest of all men. Much insight and information, however, was conveyed at the inaugural event in a continuing speaker series sponsored by Agudath Israel Legal Support Services in conjunction with J-Link: a workshop for attorneys entitled “Splitting the Baby.”
Approximately 100 lawyers attended the symposium, which focused on issues of religion in custody cases in the Jewish community. Religious concerns, organizers note, have become increasingly invoked in such cases. The topic was vividly explored through a mock enactment of a custody case, which was followed by a lively discussion.
An impressive faculty led the interaction. It included: Eugene Balloun, Partner, Shook, Hardy, & Bacon (who also received an award at the gathering for his service to Agudath Israel Legal Services); Rabbi Dovid Cohen, Chief Rabbinic Advisor, OHEL Children’s and Family Services; Dr. Hindie Klein, Director of Tikva at Ohel; New York Supreme Court Justice Esther M. Morgenstern; and Sylvan Shaffer, of counsel, Jackson and Lewis, a lawyer and clinical psychologist specializing in children’s issues.
Mitchell Silk Esq. Partner, Allen and Overy, and chairman of the Agudath Israel Legal Support Services, served as host for the symposium.
The workshop was the first in a series that will address the interface of law and halacha in contemporary communal issues. Future topics envisioned for the series include the challenges posed by financial insolvency in the present economic climate; religious freedom in the workplace; and the convergence of halacha, medicine, and law with regard to end-of-life issues. CLE credits will be awarded, as they were to those who attended the recent seminar, to all participants in future ones.
“The mock trial was a creative and engaging way of presenting important issues that lawyers in our community can expect to encounter,” says Mrs. Leah Zagelbaum, Director of Constituent Services for Agudath Israel of America. “With the increasing number of cases in which religious and legal issues intersect, we feel that it is incumbent upon us to create avenues that will allow professionals to explore the underlying questions and identify the optimum means for resolving them.”
Agudath Israel of America Legal Support Services, the symposium sponsor, mobilizes the Orthodox legal community to provide time and expertise to help others in the community. By doing so, it helps provide effective and timely delivery of legal support services to individuals and organizations in the community on a wealth of issues, including but not limited to: employment discrimination, child custody, immigration, debtor/creditor matters and medical/end of life questions.
Lawyers interested in becoming part of Agudath Israel of America Legal Support Services, says Mrs. Zagelbaum, can contact Agudath Israel associate general counsel Rabbi Mordechai Biser at 212 797-9000 ext. 310 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .