As Alan Dershowitz remarked in his keynote address on February 14, 2010, "There is no more important organization than Jewish Law Student organizations." This idea was both the motivation for and the model behind the commencement of the 8th National Jewish Law Students Association Conference. For a full day of panels and an evening banquet at the Museum of Tolerance, Jewish law school students from around the nation joined Pepperdine University students and community members to discuss the impact of Judaism on law on both international and domestic planes. Discussions featured noted academic and legal speakers from around the world, and fostered further dialogue on the role of Israel in the world, the growth of a Jewish presence in the legal community, and the need for socially-moral Jewish leaders to continue defending those in need.
Since its inception, the state of Israel has modeled a unique position in the global realm. Surrounded by states hostile to its existence, the state of Israel has been forced to defend itself both militarily and culturally on formal and informal stages. This panel grappled with the impact of international law on the state of Israel today, the role Israel currently plays in international law and the role it should play in an arena so virulently opinionated on its very existence. Watch the full video of the panel here.
Genocide, the Holocaust, and Law
Recent years have brought to light onerous injustices against Holocaust and genocide survivors in the context of financial restitution and respect. Within the United States, an extraordinary group of Jewish and human rights lawyers responded to these attacks with a call for justice. Filing numerous restitution cases within the state of California and elsewhere, these individuals fought for survivors and their families to be protected and respected in the generations following such extreme atrocities. Panelists in this discussion laid a foundation in principle and background information before delving into specific stories of restitution cases. Watch the full video of the panel here.
Emerging Topics in Jewish Law
Jewish law, at once integrated and removed from the legal sector as a whole, holds unique potential and responsibility to impact the Jewish community and the world through its morality, social justice, and cooperation. While this has been true for decades, topics are beginning to emerge today that will further the role of lawyers and of communities in Jewish Law. This panel discussed these topics, the roles that should and must be played within Jewish law, and the future of Jewish law in this context.
Responding to the Goldstone Report
Alan Dershowitz presented an assessment of the repercussions and reactions of the Goldstone Report, a controversial account of human rights violations on the part of Israeli forces during the 2008 Gaza War. Methodologically and succinctly addressing both the unstable and the conceivable accusations, contributions, and evidence, he called for a patriotic criticism of Israel's government and an international recognition of the challenges it faces. He finished his discussion with a brief praise of Israel's efforts in Haiti and a stimulating question and answer session. Watch a full video of the panel here.
The Glazer Panel: Expanding Interfaith Relationships
Academic, religious, and social leaders joined together to discuss the transformation and evolution of interfaith relationships within the Los Angeles community and abroad. Sharing personal stories, discussing relevant spheres of society, and elaborating on the willingness of many to accept others of a different faith, panelists drew on academic study, religious history, and personal stories to articulate both the need and the fulfillment of expanding interfaith relationships.
The Death Penalty
Dean Ken Starr began this discussion by stating his desire to continue the waning debate on the status of the death penalty in the United States today, incorporating the religious and spiritual aspects of the conversation over the death penalty. This panel analyzed the death penalty within the Jewish law perspective as well as the moral qualms, Christian perspectives, strengths, and weaknesses of the death penalty. Watch the full video here.