October 12, 2000
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL COUNCIL APPOINTS NEW CHAIR OF COMMITTEE ON CONSCIENCE
Washington, D.C. — A leader of the international human rights movement and the worldwide Jewish community, and a nationally renowned lawyer, Jerome J. Shestack, has been appointed chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience.
The 42-member Committee, comprised of distinguished moral leaders, was established five years ago to confront and work to halt acts of contemporary genocide or related crimes against humanity. It was an original recommendation of the 1979 President’s Commission on the Holocaust, led by Elie Wiesel, which envisioned a “living memorial” to Holocaust victims that would play a role in preventing the recurrence of mass murder.
“The world faces a continuing challenge to respond to both the threat and reality of genocide,” says Rabbi Irving Greenberg, Chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. “The Museum has a vital and significant role to play in that important work. His long and distinguished career in the international human rights movement and his impressive legal career, make Jerry Shestack uniquely qualified to lead our committee as it moves into a new stage of operation.”
“As a new century begins to unfold, with the bitter memories from the past, the question of how conscience should influence international and national policies is one of the most critical issues of our time,” Mr. Shestack says. “The kind of world we live in will be determined by the extent to which moral principles guide us in our quest for justice and world order. I look forward to leading our distinguished Committee as we vigorously lend our voice to that debate.”
Mr. Shestack, who resides in Philadelphia, is Chairman of the Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen LLP Litigation Department. He served as President of the American Bar Association (ABA) from 1997-98 and is a nationally renowned lawyer who is cited by the National Law Journal as one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers” in the United States. He was appointed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council by President Bill Clinton in 1999.
He chaired the International League for Human Rights for the past 20 years; served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights under President Jimmy Carter; was a member of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and, under President Bush, served on the Commission of the United States Presidential-Congressional Commission to Improve the Effectiveness of the United Nations. Mr. Shestack has chaired the International Bar Association Standing Committee on Human Rights. He founded, and was the first chair of, the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, was one of the founders of the Helsinki Watch Committee, and served as general counsel of Amnesty International in the United States. He serves as Counselor to the American Society of International Law and is currently on the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists and the board of the American Arbitration Society.
Mr. Shestack has handled complex litigation for Westinghouse, ABC, NBC, CBS, Hertz, RCA and United Parcel Service. He also represents the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in health care, child welfare, and other litigation. Prior to his election as President of the ABA, Mr. Shestack served on its Board of Governors and its Executive Committee and chaired its Program and Planning Committee. For six years he served on the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which makes recommendations to the President and the U.S. Senate on the qualifications of all prospective federal judges. He has served as chair of the ABA’s Section on Individual Rights and chaired the first ABA Commission on the Mentally Disabled. Mr. Shestack also chaired the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and was a founder of the ABA’s Pro Bono Center.
He was a founding member of The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and of PILCOP, a Philadelphia public interest law program, and was on the Executive Committee of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.
Mr. Shestack is a trustee of the Free Library of Philadelphia; has served as chair of the University of Pennsylvania Press; President of the Jewish Publication Society of America; a national Vice President of the American Jewish Congress and chair of its National Affairs Commission; Vice President of the American Jewish Committee and chair of its Foreign Affairs Commission, and President of Har Zion Temple. He is on the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, and served on the board of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also has served as chair of the American Poetry Center and is general counsel of the American Poetry Review.
Mr. Shestack graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received his L.L.B. from Harvard Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law School Record. He clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and has taught at Northwestern Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, which awarded him an Honorary Fellowship. He is also an Honorary Fellow of Columbia Law School and holds three honorary doctor of law degrees. He has written more than 200 articles for law journals and newspaper editorial pages. Mr. Shestack is a life member of the American Law Institute, a member of the Order of the Coif, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has hosted nearly 15 million visitors since it opened in 1993, is the national institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history and serves as this country’s memorial to the millions of people who were murdered. The Museum’s primary mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about the unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral questions raised by the events of the Holocaust as well as their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.