Monday, April 18, 2011

The Supreme Court of Israel

Supreme Court of Israel  (Jerusalem, Israel)
For awhile now, I've been itching to visit the Supreme Court of Israel, located right here in the heart of Jerusalem's government district. After all, law was my almost career before I discovered the world of education while applying to law schools. A few months back, you may remember that I also visited the Knesset, (see post here), the legislative leg of the Israel government which happens to be situated just right around the corner, literally, from the Supreme Court. Because a good friend of mine here happens to be currently working at the Supreme Court, I developed a vested interest to finally go visit in person. The perfect opportunity opened up this week since we are on a break from class for the holiday of Pesach (let's just be honest and call it spring break...). So, on a rainy Tuesday, off I went to see Israel's highest judicial authority.

Below, we've got the Supreme Court (on the left) and its neighbor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (on the right):

  

Approaching the entrance to the Supreme Court, you can see how very beautiful  it is from the outside! It makes a very good first impression, if you ask me. The famed architects are Ram Karmi and Ada Karmi-Melamede from Tel Aviv who were selected from hundreds of architectural nominations. Of course, the Supreme Court was commissioned by the Rothschild family (who seem to have sponsored every other building and facility in the state of Israel).

  

Everything about this building seems to stand tall and proud. I couldn't wait to see the inside, which I had heard so much about!

 

Here we are in the entrance of the Supreme Court, where the juxtaposed walls are meant to symbolize the old and the new Jerusalem. On the right, you can see Jerusalem stone, symbolizing the old city and on the left you have a clean, white wall meant to represent modernity:


At the top of the staircase you come to a curved, panoramic window which awes you with an amazing view of Nachla'ot, a Jerusalem neighborhood characterized by its red thatched roofs.


  

    

After enjoying the view (and it really is an impressive one), your next stop will take you to the pyramid inside the Supreme Court which is directly outside of the library. The impressive library is three floors, on each of which you will find devoted lawyers, attorneys, judges and retirees researching and working diligently.

  

  

 

After admiring the legal library, it's time to head toward the main foyer, which is overwhelmingly impressive when you round the corner and take in the beautiful space with its natural light. Attached to the foyer are the five courtrooms in which all the cases (civil and criminal) take place. On my tour, we went into one of the open courtrooms, which was in the middle of a trial. The guide notified me that it was a criminal trial, but as for the details, I cannot tell you because my Hebrew is severely lacking (note to self: incentive to learn Hebrew and return to the court to watch a trial in person).

  

The grounds of the Supreme Court are simply stunning and are just begging for pictures to be taken. It is the most tranquil and relaxing work setting that I've seen in a long time! The justices (there are 15 of them) are able to work in a quiet environment, away from the noises of the rest of the building. The architecture, of course, is symbolic, with the stone suggesting the desert and Jerusalem, the arches symbolizing the gates of Jerusalem during the Roman period, and the juxtaposition of water and stone elements representing the biblical symbols of truth and justice (Psalms 85:12 "Truth will spring up from the earth and justice will be reflected from the heavens").

   

    

   

  

I think you will agree that the Supreme Court is simply stunning! It was fascinating to learn about the Israel legal system and how it differs from what we know in the United States (for instance, there is no jury here in Israel, just a single vote from the judge).  Similar to the US, however, is the process of having three levels of courts. If you're interested in taking a tour and learning more, English tours are available daily (Sunday to Thursday) at noon. For more information on the Supreme Court, click here.

3 comments:

  1. Ha! "devoted lawyers, attorneys, judges and retirees researching and working diligently" that is, of course, when they're not clock-watching while waiting to meet their friend for lunch!

    I love the part about Pesach break being "spring break" because it definitely is. It's spring break, minus Daytona, plus matzah. Although it's hard for me to also forget it's a holiday, what with my neighbor peeking into the apartment through the garden gate and wagging his finger at me while saying, "no eat pitot." Ah, Israel. Gotta love it (or something).

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  2. Are you trying to ruin my positive impression of hard working legal professionals?!

    Ha, and have you seen today people in the street (and by people, I mean uber-religious Jews and yeshiva boys) burning bread in the street? Craziness.

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  3. I sometimes find myself truly taken back by so many of your photos. I never expected to see so many modern and beautiful buildings. I assumed it would be more like Greece... with all the ancient ruins etc. That is a pretty amazing place!

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