Brooklyn Bar Association Raises Flag for 150th Anniversary

The Brooklyn Bar Association marked the start of its 150th anniversary with a flag-raising ceremony outside its building on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday. Photos of eagles by Rob Abruzzese

The Brooklyn Bar Association celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2022, and to kick off the year, it held a virtual flag-raising ceremony recorded outside its building on Wednesday, February 2.

“In many ways (the Brooklyn Bar Association) was born into a different world – the end of the Civil War, the end of slavery, was less than ten years old, Brooklyn was its own city, and the legal profession was predominantly white and male,” said Attorney General Letitia James, who spoke at the ceremony.

“Yet the mission of this bar association remains the same – you hold the legal profession and its members to the highest standards, you educate lawyers, you educate the public about lawyers and you fight for a more perfect union” , continued James. “I congratulate you for this mission and I join you in this fight.”

The event was originally planned in person. However, due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the BBA
decided to hold the event virtually. Just over 100 lawyers, including many local judges and many former presidents, joined other BBA members on Zoom to watch the event live.

“These are difficult times during a pandemic,” said the Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine. “It kept most of us from physically leaving the building, but we have adapted to a virtual world, as has the bar association. This too will pass with the strength of this organization with the strength of this building, which Avery Okin says was purchased in 1928 from a sugar merchant.

From left to right: Martin Friedlander, Richard Klass, Joseph Rosato, Steve Cohn, Roger Bennett Adler, Hon. Barry Kamins, Armenia
Gayle, Hon. Nancy Sunshine, Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine and Daniel Antonelli.

Hon. Barry Kamins, former Supreme Court Administrative Justice, Criminal Term, and former President of the BBA, was the emcee. He introduced Father Patrick Keating, who delivered the benediction, and then Past Presidents, Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik and the Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine, both of whom gave speeches on the history of the association.

“Our association has a rich history, shaped by its times,” Judge Cyrulnik said. “In a collection of pictures of
the Brooklyn Historical Society, I came across pictures of our annual dinners from the late 1940s and 1950s. Not a woman in
view. Colored lawyers? No. What about lawyers under 50? Apparently there were none. As society has fortunately evolved, so have we as an institution.

“During the 40 years, I have been a member, committee chair, director, officer and past president,” Cyrulnik continued. “I have seen the Brooklyn Bar Association seek out and welcome the participation of women lawyers, women lawyers of color, LGBTQ women lawyers, young lawyers, lawyers from all walks of life, as we recognize the ability to serve our members, to serve the wider Brooklyn legal community, and society as a whole is bettered with the active participation of colleagues who have diverse experiences and backgrounds.

Armena Gayle, 150th Anniversary President of the Brooklyn Bar Association (right)
and Richard Klass.

Beer tasting event

Since the flag-raising ceremony was held as a virtual event, no reception was held after the ceremony. Instead, BBA members hosted a beer tasting scheduled for Monday, March 14.

Beer writer David Nilsen will guide BBA members through a 90-minute virtual tasting of six Belgian beer styles. During the tasting, Nilsen and members will taste the six beers, explaining their history, ingredients and the processes that make them unique. He will also discuss the history and modern variety of Belgian beers and how best to enjoy them.

“We wanted to come up with something fun that we thought members would enjoy even virtually,” said president-elect Richard Klass. “That way we can still come together and reminisce about the history of the Brooklyn Bar Association and we can do it safely.”

From left to right: Joseph Rosato, Hon. Barry Kamins, Armena Gayle and Richard Klass.

150th anniversary dinner

The Brooklyn Bar Association is planning a major in-person event for the spring. On Tuesday, June 7, the BBA will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a dinner at El Caribe.

This will be the first “dinner” hosted by the Brooklyn Bar Association since its annual dinner in December 2019. Despite the annual dinner being the BBA’s main source of income, the last two dinners were forced to be canceled. .

The anniversary dinner will be both indoors and outdoors as the cocktail hour will take place on El Caribe’s beautiful garden patio and the dinner will take place indoors. To keep things as safe as possible, the BBA plans to limit dinner ticket sales so that social distancing is possible and guests can feel safe.

Tickets for the beer tasting are available now at, and dinner tickets will be on sale soon. Expect an upcoming announcement.

Past President Gregory Cerchione.

Robert Abruzzese is the former legal editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the current director of member services for the Brooklyn Bar Association. Now as a legal columnist for the Eagle, Abruzzese writes about the BBA and the local legal community. For more information on joining the Brooklyn Bar Association, you can contact him by email at [email protected]

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