(photo credit: REUTERS)
Less than a week after taking up her position as the president of the Supreme Court, Esther Hayut on Monday presided over a swearing- in ceremony in which several appointments were made.
Hanan Melcer was appointed deputy president of the Supreme Court, while judges Yosef Elron and Yael Vilner were elevated to the Supreme Court from the Haifa District Court.
Elron was previously president of the Haifa District Court, while Vilner, who is Orthodox, is descended from a distinguished rabbinical family.
Other appointments made were Liora Edelstein and Talmor Peres to the Magistrates Court and Irena Rosen and Meital Halfon Aviran as senior court registrars.
Of the seven appointees, five were women, prompting Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to remark that 54% of judges in Israel are female. She also pointed out that whereas in Israel there have been three women presidents of the Supreme Court, the United States has not had a single female chief justice.
Shaked also commented on the fact that Melcer is the only Supreme Court judge who was, immediately beforehand, a lawyer in the private sector and did not go through the ranks of the court system. He has been a member of the Supreme Court since 2007.
Shaked who tends to quote the Bible or the Talmud or both at such events, recalled that one of the first things that Moses did in the desert was to appoint judges.
At the ceremony which took place at the President’s Residence in the presence of past and present Supreme Court judges, President Reuven Rivlin characterized it as “special,” because it was the first time Hayut was attending in her new role.
Comparing the difference between passing judgment in personal lives as opposed to their professional lives, Rivlin said judges must put their personal views aside, look at the full picture in all its complexities, and treat both sides with fairness and respect.
Hayut devoted most of her address to Melcer, who she said had been a brilliant lawyer and university lecturer.
She first met him several years ago when he was teaching law at Tel Aviv University, and when the time came to recommend someone to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court, she immediately thought of him, Hayut said.
She described him as a multi-faceted man both professionally and in his personal life. “He represents the grace and justice of Jewish tradition.”
In stressing the importance of maintaining the independence of the court, Melcer spoke of the executive, legislative and judicial branches that have been at odds with each other in Israel.
He said that “there should not be a separation of powers but a partnership of powers.”
Melcer felt compelled, he said, to thank all the people who had helped him to get to where he is today. He also paid special tribute to his deceased parents who had been Polish Holocaust survivors.
His mother had been a prisoner in Auschwitz, and his father was on Oskar Schindler’s list, that was made famous.
Melcer also thanked his university lecturers, and his wife Margalit, whose parents were also Holocaust survivors. Without her encouragement and support he said, he would never have reached where he is today.