Dear Friends –
After 20 years serving in and around our justice system… and on winning campaigns from presidential to local, and for social justice causes from global to local… after serving for years as North America’s only full-time presiding judicial officer simultaneously holding a rabbinic pulpit… it’s time for a change.
I’M RUNNING FOR JUSTICE.
I’m humbled and excited to declare my candidacy for Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District (Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess and Orange Counties).
STEPS OF GRATITUDE
I take this step with tremendous gratitude for greats who preceded me in this district – my home for most of my life.It’s where my first judicial boss and mentor, New York Court of Appeals Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt, got his judicial start.
It’s where another, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, took his big step forward.
It’s where I served with one of my heroes, glass-ceiling smasher Chief Judge Judith Kaye – advancing a vision of comprehensive justice reform, constitutional change, historic access-to-justice initiatives, and a revolution of problem-solving justice that began with specialized courts for domestic violence and nonviolent drug offenses.
It’s where I began nearly 30 years of public service – with Hudson Riverkeeper litigating for our environment, with Asm. Sandy Galef reforming Albany, and now-County Executive George Latimer and Cmsr. Richard Wishnie budgeting for Westchester County.
I take this step as the son of an immigrant born in the Holocaust’s ashes, who came to the U.S. with nothing. I take this step as the son of parents who faced legend injustice while loving me into becoming my family’s first to graduate college – much less graduate schools for public policy, law, spiritual formation, rabbinics, and entrepreneurship.
I had the privilege to serve an incoming governor as justice consultant, and three presidential nominees including Barack Obama protecting the vote of African Americans, elders and young adults against entrenched patterns of civil rights violations. I’ve trained for and served all kinds of campaigns, but I never imagined standing for election myself.
But now, after presiding for nearly a decade as a judicial referee in Supreme Court, I’ve seen first-hand the elemental truth that Chief Judge Kaye first taught me:
COURTS ARE THE EMERGENCY ROOMS OF SOCIETY.
Every day, I see that most every foreclosure involves a job loss, illness, death or matrimonial dispute – and also impacts a neighborhood, demographic patterns, the real estate market, interest rates, and sustainable access to home ownership.
I see the urgent need for high-quality civil legal services, and the high cost society pays when quality representation is lacking. I see court structures and procedures directly impacting civil rights and social wrongs, costs and benefits, markets and incentives.
I see the importance of judges expert in the law – who also wisely balance head and heart, rights and duties, systemic forces and the merits of each case.
I hear lawyers and judges confide in me about how their work affects them, especially in these times of challenge for most everyone – including the legal profession.
More than ever, I see – we all see – the urgency of an ethical and expert Judiciary that every day earns and keeps the public’s sacred trust.
That’s the cause to which I’ve dedicated my decades of public service. That’s the kind of Justice I’d work tirelessly to be for New York.
MEANWHILE, SOME THINGS WON’T CHANGE.
This campaign won’t change my pulpit or teaching roles. My ethics clearance from the Judiciary is exacting, and I’ll continue to honor my roles with the same ethical rigor that always has been my bedrock.Nor will this campaign change my strict #nocomment rule. Ethics rules that already govern me also will govern this campaign.And if I’m honored to serve as Justice, none of that will change going forward.
I look forward to sharing more about this campaign, and how you can help. For now, I share this news with gratitude for your friendship. Please join me on what’s sure to be quite a journey.
With friendship / B’shalom –