On April 5, the tribe gathered at Temple Beth El of South OC, Aliso Viejo, to hear the Hon. Justice Salim Joubran, of the Supreme Court of the State of Israel, give a most inspiring lecture. The topic was the “Freedom of Religion and the Role of the Supreme Court in Israel.” However, it wasn’t just a gathering of the “tribe” that turned out. It was actually a special evening that was open to people of many different faiths. The Rose Project of Jewish Federation and Family Services, which presented this evening as part of its Distinguished Lecture Series, went out of its way to invite members from local mosques and churches in the area. The seats were filled with a rich tapestry of races and religions, as we all gathered with one common goal: to facilitate tolerance and understanding.
Justice Joubran couldn’t have been better suited to lead this evening, as he is the first Arab to receive a permanent appointment to the Supreme Court of Israel. He is also only the second Arab judge to hold a Supreme Court appointment.
In a state like Israel, which holds no “living constitution” (although they’re working on it), the role of the Supreme Court Justices is even more important. They are there to ensure that the government upholds democracy, the protection of human rights and the freedom of religion.
In fact, according to Justice Joubran, “in Israel, the freedom from religion is just as important as the freedom of religion.” Meaning that the citizens of Israel should not only have the freedom to express their religious views, but they should also be free from any religion that is forced upon them in any way. A person’s religious views should be a “personal matter of choice.”
Protecting this freedom is no part-time job either. For instance, the U.S. Supreme Court rules on about 80 cases each year (another 50 without hearing arguments) and the written opinions contained within these rulings are about four to five pages long. In contrast, the Supreme Court Justices of Israel hear an average of 9,000 cases a year and the rulings are closer to 70 pages long… each!
“I’ve seen rulings that are even 100-200 pages long,” said Justice Joubran. Oy vey, that is a large case load indeed.
Finally, Justice Joubran doesn’t just devote his career to being a “Goodwill Ambassador” all over the world. He has also devoted his personal life to do-gooding as well. A member himself since 1972, Joubran is an active Rotarian who didn’t miss a chance to address the Rotary Club of Irvine at their 7 a.m. meeting the next day. He showed up bright and early and led a lively discussion about trying to bring all religions and faiths closer. Joubran stated, “The rotary clubs of Israel work to strengthen relations between Jews, Arabs, Christians and Muslims and they are working to foster a peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs.” Just a little something he is working on in his free time.
For more information on the Rose Project of Jewish Federation and Family Services please visit: www.jewishoc.org/rose.
Tracey Armstrong Gorsky is a contributing editor to Jlife magazine.