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Justine Wise Polier

Justine Wise Polier

As the first woman judge appointed in New York State, Justine Wise Polier focused on helping the most vulnerable population: children.

Immigration and Generations: Anzia Yezierska's Children of Loneliness

The experience of immigration brings many challenges. Immigrant families are subjected to discrimination, culture shock, pressure to assimilate, and poverty. These experiences hurt both individuals and families, often pulling parents and children apart from each other. In this Go & Learn guide, we feature a short story by immigrant writer Anzia Yezierska, titled Children of Loneliness. The story illustrates how one young woman's struggle to find her own place in American society tears her from her parents and their way of life.

De facto segregation in the North: Skipwith vs. NYC Board of Education

Investigate the dynamics of segregation in northern schools through a New York City court case ruled on by Judge and Jewish activist Justine Wise Polier.

Jews and the Civil Rights Movement: the Whys and Why Nots

Assume the roles of Southern Jews participating in a Temple board meeting on whether or not to support Northern Jewish activists staging a protest in town.

Justine Wise Polier

An outspoken activist and a "fighting judge," Justine Wise Polier was the first woman Justice in New York. For 38 years she used her position on the Family Court bench to fight for the rights of the poor and disempowered. She strove to implement juvenile justice law as treatment, not punishment, making her court the center of a community network that encompassed psychiatric services, economic aid, teachers, placement agencies, and families.

Judge Justine Wise Polier retires

February 3, 1973

Judge Justine Wise Polier retired from the New York Family Court, after 38 years spent trying to use the bench to assist children and redress discrimination.

Justine Wise Polier

Justine Wise Polier espoused an activist concept of the law and a rehabilitative rather than a punitive model of judicial process, she pioneered the establishment of mental health, educational, and other rehabilitative services for troubled children. She also took a leading role in opposing racial and religious discrimination in public and private facilities.

Law in the United States

The situation of the Jewish community in the United States is shaped fundamentally by the condition of political equality. This legal status is shared with all other citizens and is assumed as an essential baseline. Where there are violations of that status—when an individual otherwise of full legal capacity is treated as a member of a subordinated racial or religious group, and when group membership defines rights and duties—we discuss the problem under the heading “discrimination.”

American Jewish Congress

Women have played an important part in the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) since the organization was first established after World War I.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Justine Wise Polier." (Viewed on November 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/10626>.

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