Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Spirit of the Law

Eytan Kobre

From the rights of religious employees to the funding of yeshivos, Orthodox attorney Avi Schick has always fought the battles that matter

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

 Mishpacha image

“We were all raised with a sense that you take whatever talents and abilities you have and use them on behalf of the Klal” (Photos: Jeff Zorabedian)

I t was the spring of 1991, and Avi Schick was feeling pretty good.

He’d just received his acceptance letter to Columbia Law School, and perhaps, he recalls, “I was feeling a little too proud of myself, because the school’s acceptance letter makes you feel like you’re one of the chosen few.” But the next day, when he visited his grandmother Renee Schick — founder of the eponymous Boro Park bakery — and showed her the letter, she excused herself and went to retrieve a box full of documents. She rifled through it until she found what she was looking for: a document dated April 7, 1938 — 53 years earlier — which she handed to him.

It was an eviction notice. Her husband had died three weeks prior to that, and she and her four little ones found themselves evicted from their apartment. She handed the letter to her grandson and said, “This was also done by a lawyer. If you’ll do something good with a law degree, it will be good, and if you don’t, it will be meaningless. The Ivy League degree itself doesn’t mean anything.”

“I got the message,” says Avi. “Don’t get satisfaction based on some perceived status. Either you’ll use that status to achieve good things, but if not, it’ll be wasted.”

That’s a pithy way to express the recurrent theme that has punctuated each chapter of Avi Schick’s life in the public eye. Beginning with his rise to the highest levels of New York State government, followed by prominent roles on New York City’s business and civic scene, and more recently, its legal firmament, Schick is a Jewish communal activist extraordinaire who has sought and found ways to advance the interests of both the larger Orthodox community and those of individual Jews in need.

Just this May, Avi scored his most recent high-profile win, in the five-year-old legal battle over the right of Lakewood’s Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG) to receive the proceeds of a $10.6 million economic development grant from the State of New Jersey. The ACLU sued the state, claiming the grant was unconstitutional based largely on a 1970s New Jersey Supreme Court decision in a case known as Resnick. The lower court agreed with the ACLU, but on appeal, the New Jersey Supreme Court not only vacated the lower court’s decision but also narrowed the general applicability of Resnick.

That latter aspect of the court’s ruling, Avi points out, has important ramifications for the Jewish community beyond the narrow facts of the BMG grant because it will now enable a larger group of institutions in New Jersey’s burgeoning frum neighborhoods to benefit from a bigger slice of the government funding pie. 

 

 

Avi recently joined the 700-attorney law firm to head up its New York government investigations practice, representing clients with various governmental entanglements (“The best resolutions,” he says drily, “are the ones you never read about”). As we settle down in his new digs at the firm’s midtown Manhattan office, Avi reflects on the roots of his passion for communal involvement.

.

"I don't want government telling chssidishe parents how to raise or educate their kids"(Photo: Baruch Yaari)

Growing up, he had a front-row seat for observing the dynamic communal work of his own father. Marvin Schick’s name is virtually synonymous with a lifetime of advocacy for fellow Jews in the political, legal, and media arenas, from founding the legal advocacy group COLPA, which won the country’s first lawsuits defending the rights of observant Jews, to his presidency of Rabbi Jacob Joseph School (RJJ) and his work at the AVI CHAI educational foundation on behalf of yeshivos and day schools across the country, to using his prolific and eloquent pen to debunk the seemingly never-ending calumnious portrayals of Orthodox Jews.

“We were all raised with a sense that you take whatever talents and abilities you have and use them on behalf of the Klal,” Avi observes. “My father didn’t have to articulate that in words because it was conveyed through his everyday activities. His life isn’t about particular moments where he chose to get involved — it’s always been total immersion. The lesson to our family has always been: think about how your skills can be used for the frum community and then go and do it.” 

For his father, Avi says, Klal work was not an obligation to be avoided, but an opportunity to be pursued. That was another lesson he learned from his grandmother: “Long after she retired from professional baking, she continued to bake for all those around her — family, friends, the checkout ladies in Waldbaum’s, the nurses in Elderplan, you name it. She had a good friend, Mrs. Neuwirth, whose husband was a well-known Boro Park doctor, and they had one son, George, who suffered from cerebral palsy. For as many years as I can remember, my grandmother would bake a birthday cake for George and ask me to deliver it, always reminding me that the point wasn’t just to drop the cake off, but to also spend time talking to George. My grandmother died on a Monday morning right after Pesach, at age 92. By then, both of George’s parents had already passed away. The night before her passing, she called my sister and said, ‘Thursday is George’s birthday and I’m not going to be here. Please make sure George gets a cake.’

“Now, by that point in her life, my grandmother had fulfilled every possible obligation one could imagine. But with just hours left in her life, she sensed one more opportunity. She had the presence of mind to know that the ill son of her deceased friend had a birthday that week and no one else would care.”

And that, too, is something to know about Avi Schick: The intellect, the eloquence, the passion — are all matched by deep emotion and caring. 

What set Marvin Schick apart — even from many others on the Jewish communal scene — was his unswerving allegiance to gedolei Torah, beginning with his very close association with Rav Aharon Kotler ztz”l. As Avi puts it, “I learned from my father that taking lessons and instructions from talmidei chachamim is the job description. The point of communal advocacy is to assist them in their efforts to build and sustain the Torah community.”

Avi’s own interactions with the Jewish community’s great leaders have given him an insight into what makes them unique: “Baruch Hashem, I’ve had the good fortune to have relationships with gedolei Torah, and when my kids  ask me what sets them apart, I say it’s not that they’re brilliant people, although they surely are, because there are brilliant people in all communities. And while they have boundless energy and devotion, that, too, is something you find elsewhere. But what’s truly unique is their incredible ahavas Yisrael. When any Jew has a problem — not someone they know or will ever encounter again, or who is in a position to do something for them — all the distances collapse and our gedolim spring into action. Why? Because some Jew, whose name they don’t even know, whose face they don’t recognize, whose community they haven’t visited, has a challenge and they can help. The trick for the rest of us is to bring that ahavas Yisrael into our own lives.”

 

 

After graduating Columbia Law School, Avi took a big-firm litigation job at New York’s Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, where he stayed for five years before joining the 600-attorney staff of the then-New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. During nearly eight years there, Avi steadily climbed the career ladder, from Assistant Attorney General to Deputy Counsel to the Attorney General to becoming one of only six Deputy AGs overseeing the office. More importantly, he gained the trust and confidence of Spitzer, who regularly made headlines as an aggressive prosecutor and a Democrat with his eye unmistakably trained on the Governor’s mansion.

As a loyal lieutenant who’d earned a reputation as a crackerjack litigator, Avi was entrusted with handling very complex, high-ticket lawsuits and investigations. He was, for example, the lead attorney on the spate of litigation resulting from the $200 billion tobacco settlement, representing not only New York but the 45 other states that were parties to the deal as well. Another case Schick spearheaded, which garnered media coverage for years on end, was the investigation and litigation regarding the New York Stock Exchange and its chairman, Richard Grasso. 

But along with the heavy responsibilities and media glare of what he calls his “day job,” Avi’s tenure at the Attorney General’s office opened up an opportunity to bring the perspective and concerns of a community that wasn’t often well understood or even heard — his own Orthodox Jewish one — into an important branch of government. And as a result, he says, “there were some terrific things we were able to do.”

What Avi calls his proudest accomplishment during this period was the suit brought in 2000 against the Sears Roebuck corporation for rejecting the job application of a frum air conditioner repairman, Kalman Katz, over his refusal to work on Shabbos. Years earlier, Marvin Schick had done trailblazing work at COLPA to protect Sabbath-observing employees’ rights, but still, says Avi, “When a private advocacy group brings suit it sends one message, and when the State of New York sues, it sends another message.”

When Sears claimed that Katz couldn’t do the job because Saturday was its busiest workday, Schick called the company’s bluff. He subpoenaed all of its repair records and proved that in fact, Saturday was not Sears’ repair day (Tuesday was). This debunking of the oft-heard employers’ excuse of “Saturday is our busiest day” got an enormous amount of attention in the corporate world.

Then, digging even deeper, he found that Sears had terminated another employee when he became a Seventh Day Adventist while working there. “So we had a Shabbos discrimination case,” Schick chuckles, “that brought together Kalman Katz, a chassidisher yungerman from Boro Park, and Donovan Reed, an African-American Seventh Day Adventist from Mount Vernon.”

Ultimately, in addition to offering Katz and Reed jobs and back pay, Sears also had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide ten scholarships for Sabbath-observant technicians to attend training school and fund the publication of a book containing a 50-state survey of the laws of religious accommodation, sent to the human resources and legal departments of the Fortune 1000. “That,” Avi adds, still savoring the satisfaction of justice done, “is the power of government.”

Due to the publicity the Sears case generated, people started calling the AG’s office with religious discrimination complaints, and over the next years, Avi Schick won a series of additional victories against a varied list of defendants: Federal Express, for refusing to hire Rastafarians who grow their hair long; the New York City police department, for denying a Sikh police officer the right to wear a turban; a hair salon chain, for firing a stylist who had begun wearing a yarmulke at work; and an osteopathy school, for requiring female students to wear bathing suits in certain lab classes.

Once it became clear that religion-based discrimination in employment was an issue of concern that cut across many religions and religious practices, Avi took the next step. He assembled a large coalition of religious communities to support a change in the law, and in conjunction with then-Speaker Sheldon Silver, introduced legislation amending the state’s Human Rights Law to prohibit employers from imposing any condition of employment that violates an employee’s religion, absent a showing of undue hardship, which was defined as a significant difficulty or expense relative to the size of the company.

Business groups initially opposed the law, but the fact that the AG’s office was able to say, “Here are the cases that this office has uncovered and resolved in just the past few years,” helped carry the day. “It’s always good to have these kinds of experiences early on in your career, because you get the false sense you can do it again,” says Avi with a laugh. “If you get smacked in the face too often early on, you might not go back for more.”

 

 

When Avi had graduated from law school in the 1990s, it was still rare for a frum Jew working in one of the big firms to wear a yarmulke. But he decided he was going to wear his, which made it difficult to find an appropriate position. To test the effect of his head-covering, he decided to go on interviews to some firms without a yarmulke — and at the very first such interview, he landed a job offer. He didn’t take the job, but right then he made a commitment that if he’d ever be in a position to effect change on issues like this one, he would. The 2002 amendment of New York’s religious discrimination law was, for Avi Schick, a promise fulfilled.

With Eliot Spitzer’s election as New York’s governor in the fall of 2006, it was to be expected that his close aide would get an elevation of his own, and it was not long in coming. At the tender age of 40, Schick was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the powerful agency overseeing all economic development in the state, including, at that time, such sprawling, multibillion-dollar projects as the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Station, the expansion of the Javits Convention Center, and construction of the Atlantic Yards in downtown Brooklyn.

And just one year later, Schick added another high-stakes, high-profile position to his resume, assuming the chairmanship of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), continuing in that role for nine years under three different governors. Coming just a few years after 9/11, this gave Avi a crucial role to play in the revitalization of lower Manhattan.

Even before Avi had been confirmed in the ESDC post, Senate Republicans decided to make things difficult for the man nominated by their Democratic nemesis, Governor Spitzer. Ahead of his own confirmation hearing, the chatter in Albany political circles became that Avi Schick of Boro Park was anti-Catholic. The supposed proof for this specious claim was that he was said to have scuttled a grant to a church — although during his years in government, Avi had developed a close working relationship with the Catholic leadership in New York State

Pity the Republicans, who weren’t familiar with Avi Schick. He was summoned to a meeting of the Senate committee that oversaw the ESDC, where the case against him was laid out. Then it was Avi’s turn. He reached into his jacket pocket and handed the presiding senator a letter penned by Cardinal Edward Egan himself, which read, “Avi Schick is the best friend in government the Catholic community has.” The senator looked at Avi and had only two words to say: “Well played.”

Whatever power and influence these posts gave him, Avi Schick strove never to lose sight of who he was and the responsibilities that came with along with his Orthodox identity. If he needed any reminder, it came at the very first meeting as ESDC president. Governor Spitzer had asked him to go see a prominent older business and civic leader, who was a secular Jew. After a long pause to size Avi up, his first words were, “So, you wear a yarmulke.” It’s a reminder, Avi observes, “that although we may be used to the yarmulke, others aren’t and it gets noticed, and people will define you through that.”

That encounter, however, was by no means Avi’s first experience being assessed for what he wore and not for who he was. During his time in the AG’s office, he would head up to Albany to attend the governor’s annual State of the State address to the legislature. Once, he was standing near the Assembly chamber prior to the speech, chatting with other staffers, when suddenly, he saw Governor Pataki make a bee-line for him. Putting his arm around Avi’s shoulder, Pataki pumped his hand vigorously and said, “Thank you, rabbi. Thank you for joining us today.” He had simply assumed Avi was there to give the invocation.

Fast forward to the State of the State speech a few years later, when, in the same room, Avi was speaking with Judge Judith Kaye, then the state’s chief judge, when a colleague of hers came over to join them. Ever gracious, Judge Kaye asked, “Do you know each other?” With a wide grin, the other judge turned to Avi and said, “Of course. I’m honored to meet you, Rabbi Feinstein,” apparently matching the name of a rabbi on the program that day with the only person in sight with a beard-and-yarmulke combination. This, Avi adds, “is why my kids joke that their father is a rabbi, but only in Albany during the State of the State.”

 

 

With his return to private legal practice in 2009, Avi closed a chapter in his life of public service, although he still tries to keep up some civic involvement, such as sitting on the board of the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum. He believes that with Orthodox Jews being a growing part of the New York civic and social fabric, “there’s some hard-to-quantify, but real value in a board like that having a member with a yarmulke.” Once, as he walked in late to one of its meetings, board chairman Michael Bloomberg wryly announced, “Avi has arrived. The average net worth of the membership of this committee has now gone down by a billion dollars.” 

Nevertheless, Avi’s vigorous and effective advocacy of the frum community’s interests is in his very DNA, and, if anything, leaving his public-sector posts has only enabled him to redouble his commitment to Klal work.

A primary source of counsel for Avi is Mirrer Rosh Yeshivah Rav Elya Brudny, who observes that “Avi doesn’t bend rules or play games, nor does he flaunt his influence. He’s discreet and insistent on avoiding a chillul Hashem, yet with his big heart and brilliant mind, he’ll find ways to facilitate a yeshuah for individuals without compromising his ethical standards. The same is true of matters concerning the Klal. He has connections, but he doesn’t engage in back-door dealings — he just knows the system so well that he’s able to pair people up with the right contacts, with everything being done on the up-and-up. And the fact that he’s scrupulous about dina demalchusa makes him very well-respected in the halls of government, which, in turn, enables him to achieve a lot, because in the legal profession and in government agencies, Avi Schick’s word is a word. He has the hashkafos of a real ben Torah and you see it in the family he’s raising.”

Rav Brundy’s relationship with the Schicks goes back decades, to Marvin Schick’s successful efforts to rebuild the then-long defunct RJJ as a mesivta and beis medrash in Edison, New Jersey. “I was brought in to help start it and I spent a very intense year watching with fascination as Marvin navigated the idea through an RJJ board that was comprised largely of secular Jews,” Rav Brundy remembers. “Then, when the process hit snags and Rav Shneur Kotler got involved to see it through, Marvin was mevatel his daas and followed Rav Shneur’s direction like a soldier, despite it being a very daunting undertaking. That’s when I saw the deep impact Rav Aharon Kotler had made on him, which is really the root of Avi’s own connections to talmidei chachamim. For example, Avi walks very far to daven at Rav Yisroel Reisman’s shul, although there are countless shuls in between, because he fulfills asei lecha rav regarding Rav Reisman.”

Back in the AG’s office, Avi already evinced a particular interest in issues affecting the chinuch system, and in 2002, helped bring together a working group comprised of the entire spectrum of stakeholders in education, from the teachers’ unions and the New York State Board of Regents, to Agudath Israel, the Catholic community, and academics with expertise in the area.

The group had one goal: To avoid hot-button issues like vouchers and tax credits, and focus instead on reaching consensus about other, smaller forms of aid that were achievable for nonpublic schools. Following its deliberations, it issued a report with four recommendations — three of which were ultimately enacted into law — covering areas like funding for computer hardware, remedial and special education and professional development, along with a legal opinion by the Attorney General’s office attesting to the constitutionality of these programs. But perhaps the report’s most important outcome was the governmental imprimatur — a Democratic imprimatur, no less — it conferred on the notion of a governmental role in funding nonpublic education.

How does one bring around a guy like Eliot Spitzer, a secular Jew and a politician aspiring to higher office in a deep blue state? “He was very intelligent and something of an iconoclast who didn’t much care for sacred cows, and he always liked to debate new arguments and ideas,” Avi explains. “It was a long process, worked through with patience, to help him understand the issues. He visited many yeshivos along the way.”

Avi Schick brings the same level of passion and tenacity he has exhibited on behalf of the community as a whole to the defense of an individual Jew’s rights. Case in point: When Avi first learned in 2015 that a Far Rockaway-based dentist named Gershon Pincus had been denied employment by the United States Navy because of family ties to Israel, he had difficulty believing the allegation could be true. But after reviewing the relevant documents, it turned out to be true indeed, what he describes as “the ugliest case of dual loyalty accusations.”

Taking the case on a pro bono basis, Avi saw to it that Pincus’ plight garnered wide publicity, with the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News and the US military’s newspaper, the Stars and Stripes, all running stories about the case. Eventually, Avi’s efforts bore fruit and the Navy reversed itself regarding Dr. Pincus’ status. And just a year later, when another observant Jew faced a similar predicament in another branch of the federal government, Avi wrote a letter on his behalf to an official in the offending agency, from whom a return call was not long in coming, saying, “If you promise not to ‘Pincus’ me, it will be resolved quickly.”

Several years ago, Avi took on what may be his biggest challenge yet in communal advocacy, when he stepped into the fray surrounding the issue of secular studies in New York’s chassidish yeshivos, sparked by a complaint lodged with the New York City Department of Education (DOE) by a group called YAFFED. Since then, Avi has worked closely with PEARLS, a consortium of chassidic parents and educators, together with Agudath Israel of America, to mount a vigorous response on the legal, educational, and public relations fronts.

For Avi, it has been a fascinating few years helping to educate high-level city and state officials about what actually goes on in a yeshivah. They’re familiar mainly with the Catholic school model of an integrated curriculum, but the idea of separate departments for kodesh and chol was totally new to them.

It has also been an eye-opening experience for them to learn about the strong intellectual component of limudei kodesh studies. Avi says that at one of the chassidish yeshivos, a DOE official who’d already visited many yeshivos asked the menahel, “Rabbi, in teaching Talmud, do you employ the Brisker method?” “I told him that if he can get the chassidishe yeshivos to teach the Brisker method, he’ll have accomplished what great rabbis could not.” 

Avi contends that decades ago, the Orthodox community was more open to explaining itself to others. “But now, we feel sometimes like we’ve arrived,” he says. “We own our neighborhood and they must understand us, and if not, it’s their fault, not ours. Well, at the end of the day, we still need to educate those with whom we interact and those in government who exercise authority — because if they don’t understand us, we’ll suffer the consequences.”

Avi minces no words about the motives of those opposing the yeshivos: “The inquiry is being pushed by people to whom Torah values are anathema. They’ve made that clear in public statements, including to NYC’s Panel for Educational Policy, where they complain about the yeshivos not offering their students the perspective of progressive societal values. The complaint the government received would never have been taken seriously if its target had been anything other than a group of yeshivos — it was a single paragraph in a single letter with an undifferentiated allegation against dozens of schools.

“Among the schools listed was — I kid you not — the Satmar fleish gesheft at 82 Lee Avenue in Williamsburg. Apparently, they Googled the names of prominent chassidishe mosdos, and because one maintains a business office a few floors above the butcher shop, they complained to the DOE about their bad experience in ‘the school at 82 Lee Avenue.’

“Just to be clear,” Avi continues, “there is no basis to impute any improper motives to the recipients of the letter. I think those who sent it just pushed it hard and smart in the media. And certainly, the chassidic world is not well understood in general society, so the allegations reinforced stereotypes that people have and that’s how they took root.”

When he’s asked why he’s at the forefront of defending a chassidic school system he wouldn’t send his own children to, his answer is straightforward: The closest Jewish high school to his Midwood home is a modern Orthodox one with a very superior secular studies department, yet he chooses to put his kids on a van very early in the morning to travel some distance to another yeshivah whose secular studies education is good, but not on par with the one they could receive at the school just a few minutes’ walk away. “That’s my choice,” he explains, “and I don’t want government telling me they know better, that I should send my boys to the school right near my house — and I also don’t want government telling chassidishe parents how to raise or educate their kids.” 

As things stand now, the schools have pooled their efforts, producing a series of compliant while culturally sensitive educational materials and providing training to principals and teachers on how to implement the curriculum.

“The DOE has come to many schools to meet with teachers and administrators and to visit classrooms,” Avi says. “They see that the yeshivos aren’t uniform, that every teacher and every classroom and every school is different. Still, I think they’ve been pleased by what they’ve seen and understand that the bald accusations in YAFFED’s letter are inaccurate. Our yeshivah system is the crown jewel of our community, and a prime reason for its growth in the post-war era and so it needs to be protected — strongly but also wisely. My goal is to explain what goes on in yeshivos, because if we expose government officials to that and they understand it, things will work out well.”

Those last points — maintaining relationships and educating people — are a large part of the approach to communal advocacy Avi Schick has successfully followed on so many fronts over so many years. But so are two others: patience and humility.

“When you’re working for the Klal,” he refects, “you have to realize there are people who came before you and put certain things in place, and even if they didn’t fully succeed, they put the issue on the agenda, they made allies that made later successes possible. So that’s also part of the job, to set the table, so that when the time comes and people smarter and younger and more effective come along, they’ll build on what you’ve done too.”

 

 

Brains Over Brawn 

Avi Schick emphasizes the need to engage in advocacy that builds allies and makes the legal and moral case for the frum community’s needs. That’s not quite the same thing as the raw exercise of political power. “There’s surely a place for power advocacy,” he says, “but I think we’ve become more comfortable nowadays with power advocacy, and you need both.”

Avi shares the little-known story behind how the money began to flow for what in recent years has become a very significant source of government funding for yeshivos — the Comprehensive Attendance Program (or CAP) reimbursement. New York State had refused to make CAP reimbursement payments to yeshivos and other non-public schools, and by the mid-2000s, had owed CAP back-payments totaling tens of millions of dollars. In 2006, then-state comptroller Alan Hevesi issued a report saying that New York State owed the money.

But Hevesi was facing his own challenges, and the report just languished.

In November 2006, when Eliot Spitzer was elected governor, Agudath Israel’s Chaim Dovid Zweibel asked to meet with him during the transition period before his inauguration. During the meeting, Rabbi Zweibel pressed the CAP reimbursement issue, and handed the governor-elect a copy of the report. Avi knows that Spitzer read it, because he sent it back to Avi with a handwritten note in the margin that read, “Is there more to this, and how much is involved?” Less than five months later, his first state budget was enacted, and with the cooperation of then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, $40 million was included for CAP reimbursements. Similar amounts were included in the State budget in subsequent years. To this day, Avi keeps the report with Spitzer’s handwritten note on it in his office.

“That,” says Schick, “is exactly how CAP payments started. You will find no record of a public campaign, no rallies, no ads, nothing. But it built upon years of relationship-building and education. That initial $40 million opened the spigot, and the opening of the CAP pipeline meant that a few years ago, when the big push in Albany by the Catholic Conference and the OU to get tuition tax credits fell short, the CAP funding stream was the vehicle used to deliver an additional $250 million in payments to non-public schools to satisfy the political pressure and demand that the push for tax credits had created.”

Alongside his advocacy in the courts and the halls of government, Schick regularly takes to the opinion pages of the secular media to make the Jewish community’s case in the court of public opinion, because, he says, “I think it’s important to regularly inject our perspective into the conversation.” He notes that “the level of frum journalism is higher than it’s ever been before, and so we’ve become very good at talking to ourselves, but our ability to talk to others has withered a bit.”

In this, too, he has followed the lead of his father, for years a weekly columnist in the New York Jewish Week, conveying an Orthodox Jewish perspective on issues of the day and defending against the unremitting anti-Orthodox bias of the secular Jewish media. An elegant, often witty, writer, Avi’s proclivity for language has been doubly blessed; his mother is a 12th-grade literature teacher at Bais Yaakov of Boro Park. Once, he recalls, “while negotiating for a client with a government prosecutor, I kept correcting the grammar in the agreement he wanted my client to sign until he said, ‘Enough of this — unless you tell me your mother’s an English teacher…’ I said, ‘Bingo.’”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 717)

Related Stories

Leading the Leader

C. Rosenberg

Combining her expertise in psychology, business, and academic research, Dr. Lilian Abrams helps exec...

Catching Up with… Csanád Szegedi

Binyamin Rose

“My whole world became one big black hole. I didn’t know anything about Judaism and I had no idea wh...

On Site: The Gift Is in the Mail

Libi Astaire

Dr. Les Glassman’s stamp collection taps an old hobby for a window to the world

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"