Chicago attorneys recognized for work with Holocaust survivors (1/1/2009)

  • 1/1/2009
  • JUF News
>> Local attorneys recognized for work with Holocaust survivors

When Winston & Strawn LLP attorney Aviva Grumet-Morris was selecting a pro-bono project, she "wanted something that would be so important to me that I would really want to do it just out of the passion that I held for the subject," she said.

She found it in the German Government Ghetto Labor Compensation Fund project. Along with 43 other attorneys from three Chicago firms, Grumet-Morris helped Holocaust survivors apply for reparations for performing non-forced work while living in a ghetto.

"Having a sense of being Jewish means understanding the Holocaust and its tragic legacy," Grumet-Morris said.

On Nov. 19, community members and Holocaust Community, Services (HCS) staff recognized the attorneys who have devoted time to conducting application clinics and working with survivors one-on-one.

The attorneys, who represent the firms of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, DLA Piper LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP, received a certificate of appreciation for their dedication.

"As a child of survivors, knowing that you reach out, that you listen, that you treasure the stories you hear, that you help make each of them a connection to redeeming the past, it's a wonderful deed that you do," said Maly Rutkoff, chairperson of the HCS Advisory Council.

Established in October 2007, the fund provides a one-time payment of 2,000 Euros (about $3,000). HCS, a joint effort of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and its agen¬cies, Jewish Child & Family Services (JCFS), CJE SeniorLife and HIAS Chicago, has already located and secured compensation for several hundred survivors, but more continue to inquire about the program, said HCS Director Audrey Cantor. More clinics were held Nov. 25 and Dec. 4 in Skokie.

"[Working with survivors] makes us really proud to do what we do as attorneys," said Alison Zirn, an attorney with DLA Piper LLP. "It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."

Cantor and Suzanne Franklin, JCFS director of community services, recognized the attorneys for their dedication and understanding in their work with survivors. Franklin noted that the project is part of a collaborative effort to help survivors "live their lives with the greatest independence and the most dignity we can provide for them." JCFS board member Debra Levin echoed the appreciation for the attorneys' work and encouraged them to become further involved in community endeavors.

"Your deeds have truly been a testament to Elie Wiesel's words, 'If anything can, it is mem¬ory that will save humanity,' and you're doing it!" she said.

The attorneys engaged in this project are Latonia Haney Keith, Adele Frankel, John Litwin-sky, Monte Dube, Jeffrey Baltruzak, Michelle Burke, Jared Cloud, Eugene Garmize, Amy Margolin, Allison Fink, Jennifer Mikulina, Nata¬lie Nathanson, Saundra Rice, Andrew Stone, Jamie Weyeneth, Yi Zhang, Todd Solomon and Amy Nigrelli at McDermott Will & Emery LLP; Alison Zirn, Keith Medansky, Merle Cowin, Sandra Kellman, Annie Geraghty, David Glick-stein, Stuart Hersman, Meredith Katz, Richard Homer, Jordan Zucker, Nika Gembicki, Mark Yura, Paul Fignor, Joshua Glazov, Mike Kuppersmith, Shari Helft Lennon, Lauren J. Murov, Lou Cohen, Mark A. Gershon, Ross Altman and Don Shindler at DLA Piper LLP; and Greg McConnell, Erin Slitt, Aviva Grumet-Morris, Delilah Baum and Milena Spencer at Winston & Strawn LLP.

Survivors of ghetto labor should contact Holo¬caust Community Services at (847) 568-5151 for more information about the fund and upcoming clinics.

—Jane Charney

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