By Reporter staff
Richard “Dick” Lewis, an attorney at Hinman, Howard and Kattell, and current president of the New York State Bar Association, is an active member of the Binghamton Jewish community. He’s been a member of many boards of directors of local Jewish organizations and is a supporter of Israel. That’s why after the Hamas October 7 attack, he knew he had to use his expertise to offer practical help to Israel. The result is a collaboration between the New York State Bar Association, the Israel Bar Association and the legal tech company Paladin to create the platform www.israelbar.legal.
In his capacity as president of the New York State Bar Association, Lewis released the following statement: “The New York State Bar Association strongly condemns Hamas’ premeditated invasion of Israel and its brutal murders of hundreds of Israeli and Arab citizens in their homes and communities. The attacks are abhorrent and unforgivable and flagrantly violate the United Nations Charter, Helsinki Accords, and established norms and principles of international law.”
However, just condemning Hamas was not enough. Lewis wanted to used his legal expertise to help, which is what led to the idea of the website. The pro-bono site offers free legal assistance from Israeli lawyers to those who survived the October 7 attacks, the families of those taken hostage and those who were evacuated from the southern and northern borders of Israel.
Lewis noted that “the devastation in Israel is significant. Firstly, the whole social fabric has been disrupted because of people having to go off to the front. There are legal needs that people have with regard to housing, government benefits, family law, and numerous other areas, as one would expect. The goal is that these people can connect with an attorney who can, on a pro bono basis, assist them with many of their legal issues.”
Lewis approached the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton for information about potential funding sources for the website. The Federation agreed that his project was important and gave him suggestions about where to seek funds. “I am so pleased that Dick asked our Federation to be part of this important and exciting program,” said Suzanne Holwitt, Federation president. “I’m delighted that Dick’s pride in his hometown enables us to be part of an international effort to help people living in Israel, and our involvement will help him to raise the necessary funds to allow the platform to get up and running.”