When Pinchas Gurt first appeared in the Supreme Court, the judge welcomed him with the Shehecheyanu (“Who has given us life”), a Jewish prayer recited on special occasions and to express gratitude to God for new experiences. And indeed, for those present, the experience was altogether new: Gurt, a Gur Hasid from Jerusalem, was the first ultra-Orthodox Israeli ever to be appointed as a state attorney.
It will take many more years until Gurt’s choice of profession will stop raising eyebrows, but with each passing day, his presence in the courts builds a bridge of mutual awareness and acceptance.
Gurt insists that he did not set out to be the voice of the Hasidic community in the legal, secular, world; nor, for that matter, does he see himself as the representative of the Israeli legal system in the Hasidic community to which he belongs. Rather, he believes it is sufficient to mediate his professional experiences from his unique point of view. If that causes barriers on both sides to crack just a bit — all the better. Does he find it difficult to move back and forth between two entirely different realms? Perhaps surprisingly, Gurt says, “Not at all: Both sides were curious and supportive.”
“If once upon a time, no Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) person ever walked the corridors of the justice system, today, we’re seeing more and more of them in these halls”, says Gurt. “It’s a phenomenon that will only gain momentum.”