Founded in 1934, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers is the oldest continuously functioning Jewish bar association in the United States. Decalogue believes that its members, through their membership and involvement in the organization’s activities, combine the attributes of our lives unique to being both attorneys and Jews (or Jewish allies). There are many ways our members express and develop themselves as attorneys and Jews separately, but Decalogue serves as a crucial and unique forum to combine those aspects in the activities, potential and strength of a bar association.
Decalogue maintains a broad range of programs to benefit its members, the Jewish community, the legal community and the general public. These include our numerous legal lectures, social activities, judicial reception and other events. Over the past year, Decalogue has continued its mission of raising the standards of the bar and bench and to educate the public on legal issues, to maintain vigilance against public and private discriminatory practices and to foster friendly relations with other groups.
We began the year recognizing Justice Salim Joubran, an Arab judge on the Israeli Supreme Court, with Decalogue’s Merit Award for his scholarship and extensive work building bridges between various communities. We worked closely with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in establishing a hate crimes hotline. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Arab American Bar Association and every major bar association in Chicago to speak out against discriminatory policies, unconstitutional action and attacks against the judiciary by the executive branch of the federal government.
Also with the Arab American Bar Association, we recognized the contributions of Jewish and Arab women to Chicago’s legal community. Our Judicial Evaluation Committee, along with those of the Alliance of Bar Associations, worked diligently to assist in educating our electorate regarding the quality of judicial candidates. Our Anti-Semitism Committee has confronted and addressed the rise of hate on college campuses and were on the front lines to address and educate campus populations in addressing and combating anti-Semitic behavior. Our new Amicus Committee has given a venue for young practitioners to volunteer to actually contribute to cases of significance by preparing legal briefs for courts’ consideration.
This year, the national theme for Law Day is The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy. For more than 83 years, Decalogue has been at the forefront of promoting justice in society, furthering access to and the administration of justice and improving the legal profession. The 14th Amendment has provided an essential tool to Decalogue’s members in these efforts by providing for equal protection under the law, due process and incorporation of most of the Bill of Rights to apply to the states. Along with their brothers and sisters in the bar, Decalogue’s members shall continue to promote the protections guaranteed to Jewish citizens as well as all other citizens under our country’s beautiful system of law.