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Fast Forward

Jewish-Muslim Legal Team Makes Peaceful Waves In New York

The judge is an Orthodox Jew, his clerk is a Syrian Muslim refugee, and together they’ve tackled both legal cases and stereotypes.

Judge Noach Dear and his court attorney Deema Azizi have been working together for two years, and they are still shocking the masses at the New York Supreme Court, the Brooklyn Paper reported.

“When people see Deema for the first time, they always do a double take,” Dear told the Paper. “With the response, ‘What a combination, an Orthodox Jew with a Syria Muslim woman — it’s unbelievab­le.’”

Dear said he is open to talking about their starkly different backgrounds, but also about what they have in common. Every day, he wears a yarmulke (skullcap) and she wears a hijab. They also follow their respective dietary laws and pray daily.

Azizi told the Paper that she went into law to become an advocate for people like herself. Her family escaped from Syria when she was just six years old.

“We came here for freedom. I am grateful for Judge Dear because he gave me the opportunity to be here,” she said. “He boosted my confidence in my capabilities and my career by accepting me for who I am.”

The team said they hope to set a positive example and encourage diversity.

“Religious women who cover their hair are often not afforded the same opportunities by the way that they dress, and because of their backgrounds,” Dear said. “I wanted to accept Deema for her capabilities because I knew she was more than qualified.”

Alyssa Fisher is a writer at the Forward. Email her at, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher




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