Monday, August 17, 2009

Our First Lawyer

For those of us in 1960's New York Betar, there was one name we all thought of when "lawyer" was mentioned. That was Yitz Heimowitz.
Yitz's legal skills were legendary to those who had protested at the Syrian UN Mission in the fall of 1966, simply because he got them out of jail, even though US Ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg was ready to have them executed, without even knowing any details of the case. I was then, just getting acquainted with Betar and was totally awed by the daring of all involved.

Yitz, his wife Phyllis and their baby son, made aliyah just before we did. Over the years, we've kept in touch. Even though they are a bit older than we are, our daughters are about the same age. Their elder daughter was even in Bar Ilan Law School with our second one, and their younger one and our third received "Rector Prizes," as top students at the same Bar Ilan University ceremony.

A few years ago, Yitz celebrated his Seventieth Birthday at a joyous party and we heard some amazing stories. I'm glad to say that he has written his memoirs, "Memories of a Lawyer's Life," and it's a great book. Yitz was extremely involved in legal issues concerning dual citizenship, Israeli-American and was one of the leaders of AACI, Americans and Canadians in Israel.
Following is a story we remember, which isn't in the book:
When we were about to buy our first home in Israel, we called Yitz to check out the contract. We had found a nice new apartment under construction in Bayit V'Gan, Jerusalem. We sent him a copy of the purchase contract and made an appointment with the contractor. The three of us arrived together, and Yitz explained some problems he saw with the contract. We trusted him completely.
The contractor looked at us strangely and asked:

"Who is that man?"
"He's our lawyer."
"Why do you need a lawyer? I have a lawyer."
"But your lawyer is your lawyer and ours is ours."
"I don't understand. My lawyer is good enough for all of us."

The conversation continued rather fruitlessly on the same track until we looked at each other and realized that it was time to leave. As soon as the three of us left the building, we all bust into hysterical laughter. Later on we bought a different apartment.
You can see that humanity in the stories Yitz included in his book. It's privately published.


NG said...

Classic. I seem also to remember hearing about a certain property sale in New York involving a Betar building in which both sides were represented by the same legal counsel.

Batya said...

Natan, how are you?
I never heard that one, but maybe it was just a formality between family...

Shachna Waxman said...

So, who's the Betari in Tilboshet behind Yitz, when is the picture from and how can I get a copy of the book?