Canadian Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella to speak at Brandeis

March 8 HBI event focuses on 'Gender and Human Rights in the New Century'

Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella

WALTHAM, Mass.– Canadian Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella will visit Brandeis on March 8 to deliver the second annual Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights. The lecture, sponsored by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion, and the Law (GCRL), will address the topic: “What History Teaches Us: Gender and Human Rights in the New Century.”

“Our invitation reflects the high esteem in which Justice Abella’s work as a jurist and as a scholar of human rights is held,” says project director Lisa Fishbayn. “In her rulings as a trial and appellate judge, human rights commissioner and Royal Commissioner, she has been committed to alleviating disadvantage and to recognizing the complex context of equality claims. Her ideas have influenced courts and legislatures around the world.”

Justice Abella, who was the first Jewish woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, is a passionate human rights advocate. During her tenure as commissioner of the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, Abella coined the concept and the term "employment equity," based on the notion that in order to create equality, differences must be acknowledged and accommodated. Her recent opinion in the landmark case of Bruker v. Markowitz (2008) recognized the rights of women to sue for damages in cases where their husbands’ refusal to grant them a divorce under Jewish law renders them chained women (agunot).

The lecture will take place on Sunday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the International Room of the Usdan Student Center. A reception with light refreshments will precede the talk at 6:30 p.m. RSVPs are strongly encouraged; please e-mail with the names and number of guests.

The Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture Series was created by GCRL Project Founder Sylvia Neil and her husband Dan Fischel in memory of Neil’s late sister, Diane, to honor her commitment to gender equality and social justice. It is timed this year to coincide with both International Women’s Day and the Jewish holiday of the Fast of Esther, a day taken up by contemporary Jewish feminists to highlight the struggle for justice for agunot.

For more information, visit the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Web site.

About the HBI (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute)
The (HBI) Hadassah-Brandeis Institute develops fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide by producing and promoting scholarly research and artistic projects. 

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