Five Judicial Candidates Reflect on Jewish Roots

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Voters will head to the polls on May 21 and be asked to fill nine open judicial seats.

There are races for judicial openings in Pennsylvania’s Superior Court (two seats), in Philadelphia’s Municipal Court (one seat) and in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (six seats).

We have profiled five judges from the Jewish community (in alphabetical order, not ballot order) who responded to our request for information.

The general election will be held Nov. 5.

Wendi Barish
Wendi Barish

Wendi Barish

Running for: Judge, Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia (1st Judicial District). Democrat.

Why are you running?: “I was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia in my grandparents’ home. I received social services as a child and want to give back to the Philadelphia community. We are in the midst of a new type of civil rights movement. I have been working as a lawyer for more than 20 years to protect the rights afforded under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I now want to serve as a judge to ensure people’s inalienable rights are protected. No matter where you were born, where you do or do not worship, or who you love, all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

How does being Jewish influence your judicial philosophy/professional ethics?: “There is a portion of the Torah, Deuteronomy 16:19, which addresses this very issue: ‘You shall not judge unfairly; you shall show no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just.’ Being Jewish has instilled a sense of community and justice within me that I will carry to the bench.”

For more information: wendibarishforjudge.com

Beth Grossman
Beth Grossman

Beth Grossman

Running for: Judge, Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia (1st Judicial District). Grossman is the only cross-filed primary judicial candidate, which means that she is on both Democratic and Republican ballots.

Why are you running?: “Serving the public as a judge with integrity, ethics and common sense is an enormous responsibility. I entered this race because I possess these qualities, along with 25 years of legal experience, including more than 21 years as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.”

How does being Jewish influence your judicial philosophy/professional ethics?: “Being Jewish certainly has and will influence my judicial philosophy and professional ethics. Shoftim Deuteronomy 16:18-20: ‘18. Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Eternal your G-d is giving you and they shall judge the people fairly. 19. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. 20. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Eternal your G-d is giving you.’ These strong yet simple words will guide me.”

For more information: bethgrossmanforjudge.com

Craig Levin
Craig Levin

Craig Levin

Running for: Judge, Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia (1st Judicial District). Democrat.

Why are you running?: “I recognize the immense opportunity I will have to make a difference in people’s lives. As a judge, I will have the privilege and great responsibility to administer justice. I have been a trial lawyer in Philadelphia for 31 years. I have handled over 2,000 cases and tried over 500. I am running because we need people who care in positions of great responsibility.”

How does being Jewish influence your judicial philosophy/professional ethics?: “Some fundamental aspects of Judaism have and will continue to serve as a philosophical and ethical framework. First, the concept of tikkun olam, to repair the world. This, coupled with the fundamental Jewish tradition of questioning and learning will inform my approach and guide me. Justice cannot be served if we do not recognize that all people, especially in the criminal justice system, deserve dignity and respect, no matter the alleged offense. This does not mean the consequences will not be severe where warranted.”

For more information: facebook.com/Levinforjudge

Vicki Markovitz
Vicki Markovitz

Vicki Markovitz

Running for: Judge, Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia (1st Judicial District). Democrat.

Why are you running?: “My entire career has been built on public service — first as a public school teacher, then as a prosecutor and now, hopefully, as a judge. I understand the importance of knowing the law and perhaps most importantly, listening. In a courtroom words matter, evidence matters, and people matter. My priority as a judge will be to understand the challenges people bring into the courtroom. I will embrace diversity.”

How does being Jewish influence your judicial philosophy/professional ethics?: “Judaism has always been an important part of my life. Social justice and tzedakah have been at the foundation of my values. I have served my synagogue in a variety of capacities, including promoting a strong Jewish foundation for children and their parents, as well as serving on the security committee so congregants can feel safe in their place of worship. Additionally, I have assisted organizations committed to fighting anti-Semitism and injustice throughout our community.”

For more information: phillyforvicki.com

Joshua Roberts
Joshua Roberts

Joshua Roberts

Running for: Judge, Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia (1st Judicial District). Democrat.

Why are you running?: “I believe the law — and becoming a judge — is about service tempered by compassion and common sense. As a law clerk in the state court and federal court and as a practicing attorney, I have learned the importance of public service and social justice. We must respect the law and we must respect people. Everyone must have an opportunity to be heard.”

How does being Jewish influence your judicial philosophy/professional ethics?:Tikkun olam is an important concept in my life. It is the universal notion that humans are responsible for helping each other and for changing the world in a positive way. I have a 4½-year-old son and we are regularly discussing the concepts of tikkun olam and tzedakah with him. He understands that our Jewish faith instructs us to give to the less fortunate and to help lift up those who suffered misfortune. We must speak out against anti-Semitism and educate people, especially children, of the tragedies suffered by prior generations of Jews. We have a heightened duty to protect minorities against discriminatory treatment.”

For more information: facebook.com/JoshRobertsforJudge

[email protected]; 215-832-0737

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