Jurisprudence co-chair Leslie Spasser opened the Anti-Defamation League program by declaring the group’s duty to protect democracy and announced that day’s event raised more than $300,000.
Lawyers bumped elbows and circulated at the ADL’s 26th Anniversary lunch at the Whitley Hotel in Buckhead on Sept. 7 to recognize local leaders. Selected as promoters of justice in fair treatment for all, from the Atlanta community were: Lauren Linder, Emerging Leader Award; Norm Brothers, Elbert P. Tuttle Jurisprudence Award; and David Nahmias, Lifetime Achievement Award.
Next, Southeast regional director Eytan Davidson complimented lawyers for being front and center in the fight against hate. He gave a history of the ADL with its bravery against folks like Henry Ford and furthering desegregation and voting rights. “Many Americus Briefs are still in motion with 46 states having hate crime laws based on ADL tenets. Actual cases are ongoing from Jan. 6, Proud Boys, and an especially odd claim against the Mapping Project out of Iceland which is targeting the Jewish community in Boston. All this illustrates the importance of leadership.”
ADL Southeast board chair Joel Neuman stated that he’s used to boycotts from his experience as Coca-Cola counsel as a point of pride.
“Criticism is nothing new. Boycotts come now from the right and left,” he said.
Jonathan Grunberg introduced Emerging Leader Lauren Linder who serves as a positive bridge between the Jewish and Black communities. He said, “They [Lauren’s parents] sent Lauren to Pace Academy, where she spent years as the only little black girl in her class. The teachers and administrators always strived to make a home for her there, but she’ll never forget when the little girls playing house said that she had to be the maid because she’s black. Even then Lauren knew who she was, and whose she was. She did not play their game.”
Fast track both in sports and academics, Linder went onto the Ivy League, promoting inclusively and activism, now on the Board of Trustees for Pace Academy.
Linder spoke of continually reading Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches and “showing up with love.”
She quoted King, who stated that the destiny of Jews and Blacks are tied together. She said, “We have to be sensitive about the anti-Black, anti-Jewish narratives” and of people “forgetting and rewriting the history [of the Black and Jewish communities working together for civil rights].” Ms. Linder discussed seeing a recent fictionalized film about the 1965 Selma march that recreated the iconic image of Dr. King marching arm-and-arm with white and Jewish allies, but the new film only showed Black people on that front line—removing Rabbi Heschel from the scene. She stated that “it incensed me because it was acting as though we did something all alone. Or that anybody does anything all alone. When really, the only way we do things is together.”
High profile UPS CEO Carol Tome introduced Norm Brothers, executive VP chief legal and compliance officer for UPS. Very recently, Brothers negotiated the headlined UPS labor contract, the largest in the history of the U.S.
She said Brothers was successful because he didn’t see it as us against them.” Accepting the Elbert P. Tuttle Jurisprudence Award, Brothers said, “It’s just like finding a turtle on a fence post. You know he didn’t get there alone.” He emphasized that UPS employees have shared values of volunteerism, collectively donating millions of hours.
Especially moving was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was given to David Namias, former Chief Justice of Georgia, now a partner at Jones Day. Nahmias was introduced by local author and attorney Kent Alexander, who detailed the former’s stellar career from Briarcliff High School, eventually Harvard Law School, and clerking for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He joked that the word “Nahmias” became a verb and adjective…meaning “to Nahmias someone,” and ended that he is no longer intimidated by Scalia but filled with respect.
Nahmias began, “Some here may find it hard to humble me.” Nahmias became very emotional when he began his family history of his father, “a Jew in Egypt who could have easily been a war casualty, while his mother’s family found themselves in Germany in 1932.”
Citing the Leo Frank case, Nahmias spoke of the importance of maintaining the rule of law and the role of the ADL, as he experienced antisemitism even in Dunwoody. “Tyranny can happen. We have to bend towards the arc of justice, be well meaning and grab it.”
Sam Olens, former state attorney general and most recently appearing on national news shows commenting on the Georgia RICO case against Trump, told the AJT, “I am honored to serve on the ADL Board. Their mission and purpose is as relevant today as it was in 1913. Combating hate and extremism, and promoting democracy, is essential to our republic’s existence.
The honorees also richly deserved their recognition for improving our lives.”
ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization which was founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry.