by Morris Singer, BHC Young Leadership Committee member
My job with the Young Leadership Committee of the Boston-Haifa Connection is to develop meaningful opportunities for young lawyers and law students in Boston and Haifa to learn from each other, develop professionally, and use our professional skills to help others. This kind of collaboration strengthens individual connections between Boston and Haifa lawyers and enhances our own sense of identity as one professional group with diverse geographical backgrounds.
Over the course of the week, we engaged numerous young adults in the Connection through face-to-face meetings. It was quite a busy schedule. Nanny Balas, who is my counterpart in Haifa and works with young lawyers there, has joined me in Boston this week for meaningful conversations with committed supporters and newcomers alike.
On Tuesday, Nanny and I met with Professor William Berman, who runs the Housing Clinic at Suffolk University Law School and facilitates a legal clinic exchange between Suffolk and the University of Haifa Faculty of Law. The meeting was attended by Bostonians who participated in the exchange in two of the three years it has sent law students to Haifa. Nanny had an opportunity to learn about the impact Haifaim and Bostonians have had on both legal communities over the past few years.
Professor Berman shared one story of the impact, which I will repeat here. A few years ago, a law student from Haifa came to Boston on the clinic exchange and worked in the Juvenile Defenders Clinic while at Suffolk. She was surprised to find that children were sumarily shackled in the courtroom during delinquency proceedings. Her work and research while in Boston led to the clinic making courtroom shackling of children a priority.
When I joined the clinic while a law student at Suffolk, I was encouraged by my professor to raise the issue in court, which I did. I later joined a team of students at the clinic who addressed the issue head-on. We were victorious. Now, with exceptions where needed, children are not shackled during these proceedings.
We owe this victory in part to an opportunity made possible by the Boston-Haifa Connection. This is the kind of legal thinking that takes place when we exchange ideas with our friends in Haifa and think beyond the bounds of our own legal system. Here, the partnership between Boston and Haifa law students and lawyers brought about tangible social change, and we grew as a community from our connection.
The September mission has been a chance to get others excited about our growth together. The face-to-face connections have been paramount. When my friends in Boston meet the dynamic young leaders who are here from Haifa, they know that what we are doing is truly special. It seems like everyone wants to be involved.
This week is the fourth time that our Young Leaders have joined face-to-face since we started our work. In the spirit of the Hebrew word ‘mifgash,’ our meetings have been inspirational and have provided lasting momentum. Each time we get together, we transcend our own expectations for what we can accomplish. There is a continual feeling of progress.
Additionally, we become a more cohesive group. I have benefited personally and professionally from my connection to Nanny. I am always learning from her. She is one of the most committed and hard-working people I know, in both cities. My work with Nanny has been an occasion to grow as an individual, and I know from what I am hearing that she has touched everyone she has met in Boston. I am proud and humbled to have worked closely with her for a year now, and this week in Boston especially. I am glad that our work together is only just beginning.