Earlier this week, Touro Law School, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, summa cum laude graduate and former editor-in-chief of Touro Law Review, Esther Schonfeld, Esq., a leading matrimonial and family law attorney, lectured at the second International Conference on “Shedding Light on the Darkness of Abuse” at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem.
The conference, the second of its kind, was hosted by TAHEL (The Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children) with the aims of (1) providing in-depth multidisciplinary training, appropriate to a wide range of professional disciplines, community leaders, and parents in the field of abuse and domestic violence; (2) bringing together professionals and non-professionals from all sectors of the Jewish community from all over the world to collaborate, learn, and discuss ways of combating abuse and violence in the community while sharing their knowledge and expertise; and (3) bringing leading experts from Israel and abroad to present the latest research, community programs, and treatment modalities in the field of abuse and trauma.
Among the topics discussed during the three-day event were: “Helping the Jewish Community Deal with Problems of Abuse;” “Sexual Abuse of Children;” “Mandated Reporting and its Dilemmas;” “Treatment of Child Abuse: Halachic Aspects”; “Rape and Sexual Harassment”; “Bullying and Bully Prevention in Schools”; “Building Child Safety Programs in the Religious Community”; “Addiction to Pornography”; “The Role of the Community Bet Din in Protecting the Public”; and “Legal Dilemmas and Solutions With Regard to Abuse.”
“Domestic violence continues to be a prevalent problem in the Jewish community. Refusal to give a get is another form of domestic abuse, and it is the responsibility of our community as a whole to ensure that no party is permitted to chain their spouse to a failed marriage” said Ms. Schonfeld. “Only through our persistence in addressing this monumentally important issue, through open dialogue and support, can we hope to ensure that future generations will not endure the same fate being suffered by many women and men in our society today.”
Last year, at the inaugural conference, Ms. Schonfeld was invited to speak about domestic abuse as it relates to divorce. Specifically, she addressed the devastating crisis of women being left as agunot and the problem of the withholding of a Jewish religious divorce, a “get,” in a divorce action as a form of abuse. Ms. Schonfeld also led a discussion about shocking and cruel behavior exhibited by divorcing parties/parents in the throes of a custody dispute.
This year she was asked to speak about domestic violence and the legal ramifications, as well as laws around the world pertaining to the get. During this year’s conference, Ms. Schonfeld focused on the Get Law in New York, Orders of Protection, legal ramifications of domestic violence on custody, and financial ramifications. She also discussed the history of the justice system’s response to domestic violence in New York, the prosecution and adjudication of domestic-violence cases, and the laws, policies, and practices for domestic-violence cases. Ms. Schonfeld drew upon her years of experience in working with and fighting for agunot and victims of abuse, as well as children who were brought up in abusive households.
Esther Schonfeld is a founding partner of the firm Schonfeld & Goldring, LLP, and formerly a founding partner of Mosery & Schonfeld, PPLC. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000, and has since been admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the United States Court of Federal Claims, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the Supreme Court of the United States. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the Nassau County Bar Association, and the Queens County Bar Association.
Ms. Schonfeld is the author of several legal publications, including: “To Be Or Not To Be A Parent? The Search For A Solution To Custody Disputes Over Frozen Embryos,” 15 Touro Law Review 305 (1998), and “Malicious Prosecution As A Constitutional Tort: Continued Confusion And Uncertainty,” 15 Touro Law Review 1681 (1999). She recently had an article titled “Domestic Abuse in Custody Cases: Do Courts Really Care Enough?” published by the New York State Bar Association Family Law Review, Spring 2015, Volume 47, No. 1. Since her admission to the New York State Bar, she has actively specialized in the fields of matrimonial and family law. Ms. Schonfeld works extensively with rabbis, mediators, rabbinical courts, and other attorneys to strive to get people through these extremely difficult times in their lives as financially and emotionally protected as possible.