Judge Kimba Wood FTW

Only in New York. A noted federal judge reinvents the zeved habat/ simchat bat, courtesy of today’s Wall Street Journal:

… Bennett Epstein [a Manhattan trial lawyer]… recently asked New York federal judge Kimba Wood to grant him a day’s reprieve in a criminal trial to attend the bris of his grandson. Epstein’s daughter has not yet given birth — so he doesn’t yet know the sex of the baby. But Epstein wanted to give Judge Wood ample notice to consider his request, given that his daughter’s due date is Dec. 3, smack in the middle of the scheduled trial.

So Epstein was stuck in the slightly awkward position of asking Judge Wood for a day off if, in fact, the baby turns out to be a boy. If it’s a girl, well, no bris, no day off needed.

Wrote Epstein, in this letter filed with the court on Thursday:

Should the child be a girl, not much will happen in the way of public celebration. Some may even be disappointed, but will do their best to conceal this by saying, “as long as it’s a healthy baby.” . . . However, should the baby be a boy, then hoo hah! Hordes of friends and family will arrive . . . for the joyous celebration . . . known as the bris. . . . My presence at the bris is not strictly commanded, although my absence will never be forgotten by those that matter.

Judge Wood, in a note written at the bottom of the letter, granted the request. But she did Epstein one better. Wrote Wood:

Mr. Epstein will be permitted to attend the bris, in the joyous event that a son is born. But the Court would like to balance the scales. If a daughter is born, there will be a public celebration in Court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women.

We say, well done Judge Wood!

How did Epstein respond to the answer? “It was wonderful,” he told the LB on Friday. “It struck the perfect chord.” Epstein said he appreciated being granted some time off to celebrate, given the burden such a request places on a court. “As a lawyer, you don’t want to make a habit of asking for things like this,” he said. “You’re really asking for a disruption of the court’s time. So I’m very grateful.”

And on the topic of having to ask a noted female judge for time off to celebrate the birth of a boy, but not a girl, Epstein minced no words:

“Look, the Jewish religion is sexist. It just is. But I didn’t make the rules!”

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik