Our History

The American Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists (“AAJLJ”) was founded in 1983 and is affiliated with the International Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists (“IAJLJ”), a fellowship founded in 1969 by the late Justice Arthur J. Goldberg of the United States Supreme Court, the late Justice Haim Cohen of the Supreme Court of Israel, and René Cassin, French Nobel Laureate and author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The AAJLJ sponsors regular programs featuring speakers and discussions on matters of interest to lawyers nationally and worldwide.  It conducts special Jewish-content continuing legal education and other programs including events at annual ABA meetings.  AAJLJ programs address the relevance and applicability of Jewish Law to current legal issues such as human rights, national security, free speech and religious liberty.

Through its programs, AAJLJ promotes an understanding of the principles of traditional Jewish Law among members of the bar, the judiciary, and the public. But the highlight of our year is the Pursuit of Justice Award. Previous recipients include Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the first recipient), Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Stephen BreyerJudge Judith Kaye, Judge Aharon Barak of the Israel Supreme Court, Nathan Lewin, Seth Waxman, Robert Weinberg, Jack Olender, Martin Mendelsohn, Ben Brafman, and most recently, Hon. Guido Calabresi and Hon. Michael Mukasey.


Nathan Lewin, left, presents Benjamin Brafman with his POJ award. 

In 2013, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (AAJLJ) announced their inaugural Law Deans to Israel mission.  The mission took place from June 1st –June 8th, with law deans attending from the following schools: Rutgers University, University of Michigan, Widener University, Florida International University, UCLA School of Law, Loyola University Chicago, The Chicago-Kent College of Law of the Illinois Institute of Technology, and University of Missouri.

Some of the main highlights of the trip included a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the Hon. Daniel B. Shapiro; a meeting with Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq. from Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center – a civil rights non-governmental organization that combats terrorist organizations through lawsuits brought on behalf of victims of terror; a dinner reception hosted by SPME board member Prof. David Menashri, President of the College of Law and Business; Ramat Gan, featuring Law Deans from leading Israeli Universities; members of the Israeli Judiciary; and leading members of the Israeli Bar. As a mission aimed to provide a deeper understanding of Israel and its surrounding neighborhood through its religious, political, economic, social, and geographical dimensions, the Law Deans to Israel mission continues to be one of the AAJLJ’s most important undertakings.

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Chicago-Kent, Loyola deans visit Israel