Dear TER Members,
The Following is the New Statement of Purpose relative to Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society, which was approved by the TER National Council as of August 11, 2017.
TAU EPSILON RHO LAW SOCIETY
REVISED STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
TAU EPSILON RHO, as a concept, dates back to the fall of 1918, when Harry G. Fuerst and Jerome W. Moss, students at Western Reserve University School of Law, first discussed the organization of a law fraternity which would advance the lofty ideals and welfare of the legal profession and overcome the racial and religious restrictions then existing in law fraternities and the legal profession itself. Jay Eugene Farber, a law student at Ohio State University Law School also entertained this similar challenge at that time.
In early 1919, seven students at Western Reserve University School of Law organized the Lambda Eta Chi Law Fraternity. The name was chosen from the Latin “Lex” (Law). The three letters signified Loyalty, Equity and Courage. In October of 1920, several students at Ohio State University Law School joined together to create Phi Epsilon Rho, another law fraternity. In 1921, after many discussions, personal visits and meetings, the two groups were consolidated into a single law fraternity, whose membership consisted of only Jewish men. The new organization was named Tau Epsilon Rho Law Fraternity, whose Greek letters signify Truth, Ethics and Righteousness.
Tau Epsilon Rho Law Fraternity filed its Articles of Incorporation in the State of Ohio in 1921 with Lambda Eta Chi becoming Alpha Chapter and Phi Epsilon Rho the Beta Chapter of the new national law fraternity, which gradually formed Chapters at various other law schools throughout the United States, mostly in the east and mid-west. Commencing in the mid-1950’s, Tau Epsilon Rho Law Fraternity welcomed into its membership every member of the legal profession, regardless of their race, religion or gender and in 1985, the organization formally changed its name to Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society to more accurately represent our diverse membership and to facilitate our goals toward group solidarity.
Now almost 100 years later, the world has changed. Pertinent here, there is far less anti-Semitic discrimination (at least, overt); and Greek letter law fraternities have basically disappeared from our law schools. This also means that the graduate chapters formed by our alumni, having no ready source of new membership from graduating law students, have also virtually disappeared.
The Jewish fraternity TER evolved with the times into a non-denominational, gender-neutral “society”; but, with no graduate and undergraduate chapters and in an era of much lower interest in membership organizations generally, TER’s membership of mostly Jewish law graduates has aged and diminished in numbers and interest.
In recent years, a determined handful of members has kept TER alive, primarily by luring famous lawyers/judges – especially U.S. Supreme Court Justices – to come to our conventions in Florida to accept our Benjamin Nathan Cardozo Memorial Award. We were then able to persuade local Jewish Federation members as well as members of the local bar associations to come out and enjoy hearing from these luminaries, who had agreed to be present and accept our award primarily because of the list of distinguished recipients of the Cardozo Award dating back to 1941. Although crowds in the range of 200 to 250 have made these events “successful and memorable”, they have not been supported by most of our dues paying members.
The National Council has had multiple discussions over whether to disband and dissolve the organization or to preserve it – at least provisionally – with a re-defined purpose and program. The TER leadership believes there is a four-fold purpose for TER to continue:
(1) As a national social organization of Jewish and non-Jewish lawyers providing opportunities for fellowship among lawyers sharing interests in the law, justice, Judaism, and the preservation of Israel. It is open to debate whether it would be more beneficial and attract more new members were the organization to be non-denominational and actively opposing all forms of discrimination, including sexual discrimination in the field of law, with anti-Semitism and Israel being a main focus. However, we already have the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which have those universalistic policies and programs. The reality is that they still attract almost an entirely Jewish membership, or at least active membership, even though they have special programs reaching out to the Islamic, Hispanic and other communities. It is my personal view that we would be more unique and honest by calling ourselves openly a national organization of Jewish and non-Jewish lawyers.
(2) To provide opportunities for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) at reasonable cost and in either convenient locales or attractive destinations;
(3) To provide a networking opportunity for members to meet and exchange information about their law practices/firms/interests/and potential referrals;
(4) To oppose anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, to build support for Israel and opposition to leftist or rightist extreme forces seeking to undermine and demonize Israel, to speak to and help Jewish college and law students on these subjects, and to work with other organizations already pursuing these objectives.
In support of these purposes/objectives, but considering our limited membership and resources, our initial program – which would be a work in progress subject to further development – could be as follows:
(1) The largest concentrations of our current membership are in Philadelphia, Michigan and Florida (there are fewer than 10 dues current members in each of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and other states.) We propose to schedule periodic luncheon meetings in Philadelphia and Detroit (as well as any other places where members wish to convene them) which could be held in rotating law firm conference rooms at very nominal cost to attendees; and also to hold an annual conclave in Florida at year-end (when schools are closed), the cost of which could be greatly reduced for our members by eliminating large hotel events and speakers who must be transported and lodged at TER’s expense, and holding meal events at good local restaurants which would cost a fraction of what hotels charge for room rentals and lesser quality meals.
(2) At the localized luncheon meetings and annual “national” conclaves, there could be (i) occasions for speakers of interest and for CLE programs; (ii) networking; (iii) inviting potential new members; (iv) exploring opportunities to work with other organizations such as AJC, ADL, B’Nai B’rith, etc. in pro-Israel activities; and (v) planning for our members to appear at colleges and law schools and/or organize and/or support pro-Israel events on campuses.
Conclusion. We believe these goals and programs would provide worthwhile and meaningful incentives for our members to gather together, while reducing the costs and inconveniences of membership and possibly attracting new members with like interests.
David H. Marion, Esquire
TER National Chancellor
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