LAKEWOOD, NJ — Close to 200 administrators and accountants overseeing gemachs, yeshivos, shuls and tzedakah organizations packed the Park Terrace Hall in Lakewood, New Jersey this past Thursday evening, November 12, 2009, to attend a legal workshop focused on a variety of topics of importance to such institutions and organizations. In this latest installment of a series of such workshops, Agudath Israel of America teamed up with its New Jersey affiliate, Agudath Israel of New Jersey, to bring the popular workshop to the Garden State and its many Jewish institutions.
For three hours, a prestigious panel of legal and accounting experts offered observations and comments on a hypothetical scenario that brought to life principles of criminal law and banking/regulatory law, as well as accounting and not-for-profit issues addressed by both state and federal law.
“Very informative and relevant information [was provided]” commented one participant. Another added that “all of the information was valuable, especially to a crowd… that is not educated properly in these aspects at all.” The audience was clearly all ears – and at times all smiles, as the presentation contained an element of entertainment, particularly when focused on happenings in the fictitious town of Knobelsberg, created as a model of mistake-making.
The distinguished panel consisted of Robert C. Cleary, Esq. and Mark D. Harris, Esq., each a partner at the law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP; Avraham C. Moskowitz, Esq., partner at the law firm of Moskowitz Book & Walsh LLP; Robert A. Schwartz, Esq., partner at the law firm of Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP; Allen M. Silk, Esq., a shareholder at the law firm of Stark & Stark P.C.; and Gershon Biegeleisen, CPA, of Gershon Biegeleisen and Company. The panel was moderated by Yehuda Kupfer, Esq., an attorney with Agudath Israel, who has been leading the charge in organizing, promoting and executing the series of seminars.
Rabbi Josh Pruzansky, director of Agudath Israel of New Jersey, began the evening by greeting the crowd and offering introductory remarks. He then introduced a guest speaker, Rabbi Aaron Kotler, Chief Executive Officer of Beth Medrash Govoha. Rabbi Kotler pithily summed up his comments by stating: “I think all of us yearn for the day when being an Orthodox Jew would in and of itself be a bond and a guarantor of honesty and integrity.”
Toward that end, echoing comments made at a prior workshop by Agudath Israel’s executive vice president, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Mr. Kupfer emphasized the need to become educated in pertinent laws and rules. “Our goal is knowledge,” he explained.
Mr. Kupfer expressed gratitude to Rabbi Mordechai Biser, Agudath Israel’s associate general counsel, for his help in putting Thursday’s workshop together, and gave special thanks to Rabbi Pruzansky, his office and his dedicated staff for providing their expert assistance in helping make the event a success.
Mr. Kupfer acknowledged Rabbi Naftali Weisz, the Spinka Rebbe, for the involvement and guidance he has lent to the initiative, which dates back to a legal symposium hosted in Borough Park and chaired by Rabbi Zwiebel entitled “Vi’asiso Hayashar V’hatov” – “You shall do that which is straight and good.” At that gathering held in late July and attended by well over 1,000, the Spinka Rebbe stressed the need to learn from past mistakes and to know and follow the law. Since that time, the Agudah presented workshops on September 23 at two separate events, one in Borough Park, another in Los Angeles; and on October 27, in Flatbush.
Asked after the program about future such gatherings, Mr. Kupfer noted that several, on other legal/business topics, are already being planned within the tri-state area, and that Agudath Israel intends to bring similar seminars to cities across the country. He noted that the next such workshop will be presented at Agudath Israel’s upcoming national convention – taking place November 26-29 at the Hilton in East Brunswick, New Jersey – which will feature a program designed for rabbis and shul-presidents regarding legal topics of interest to them.
“It is our goal,”says Mr. Kupfer, “to bring together legal experts to share their knowledge about the law with community leaders, askonim and the general public wherever there is a need and a desire to learn.”
“And,”he adds, “From the turnouts we’ve been seeing at these seminars, there clearly is much of both.”
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)