My father, in his office at Harvard
My father was a scholar of tax law and legal ethics also widely known for his work in public interest advocacy. After serving in private practice in Philadelphia, he went on to teach at University of Pennsylvania law school, where he also served as Dean, and then at Harvard University law school. Deeply committed to inquiry, thoughtful discussion and high public and academic standards, he not only practiced law, he sought justice. He also was proud and deeply connected to his Jewish heritage and in particular to what he perceived as a connection between that heritage and the pursuit of justice.
For these reasons, we are establishing The Bernard Wolfman Memorial Public Policy Forum at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, PA, the synagogue community with which he was most closely connected in his adult life. The goals of this project are to develop an annual forum that provides the community with:
- An opportunity to learn about issues in contemporary American public policy in a balanced way
- A forum for experiencing public civility, academic inquiry, and pluralism
- Elevation of the level of discourse through engagement of high level scholars and facilitators to present and discuss current public policy issues
- The presentation of public policy issues through a Jewish lens
- Presenting both sides of the issue from scholars of great expertise in their fields
- Providing the tools for civil discourse and debate-we will ask scholars both to teach an issue and to model respectful, passionate disagreement
- Asking speakers to offer ideas and venues for participants interested in engaging in activism for a particular position
We announce this now, during the Jewish high holy days, when we seek to return to the better path for the coming year. For it is our hope that the forum will help us all along that path.
Similarly, we plan to hold the forum each year during the intermediate days of Passover. It is a holiday that my father loved, in large part because it brings family together but also very much because of the message of freedom that the festival embodies. That message fits well with the concept of our public policy forum. By delving into key issues in a balanced manner, and by raising the bar for civil discourse, perhaps we can help free ourselves to explore, interact and move forward with impact.