And Now, It’s Our Son, the Judge

And now, it’s our son, the judge.

Our son, Adam Grossman, was appointed a town justice in the Town of Southampton yesterday. He has been active in governmental affairs on Long Island for more than three decades. 

He was Riverhead Town Attorney after graduating from Pace Law School. He was chair of the environmentally focused Southampton Party which achieved a majority on the Southampton Town Board decades ago with Fred W. Thiele, Jr. as supervisor. In following years, Thiele, of Sag Harbor on Long Island, has been a New York State assemblyman and, like Adam, a Democrat.

Adam was as a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals since 2002, its chairperson since 2017 until he stepped down upon named to the judgeship. 

As I heard of the prospect of Adam becoming a judge, I thought of his great grandparents who settled in Sag Harbor a little after 1900. My paternal grandfather, Herman, worked as an engraver at Fahys Watchcase Factory. Joseph Fahys or his associates would go to Ellis Island and recruit immigrants from Hungary—where engraving was an art among Jews—and bring them to Sag Harbor. Mostly because of Fahys, 15 percent of the population of Sag Harbor were Jews in 1900.

Herman met and married Stephanie Spiegel, from Hungary, in Sag Harbor. Her sister had married into the Spitz family; many of its members also worked at Fahys. 

Herman’s and Stephanie’s families which didn’t leave Hungary were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, including his four sisters.

Adam went from grade school through Pierson High School, just a few blocks from what was Fahys Watchcase Factory. 

With antisemitism suddenly increasing far more intensely than I’ve ever seen in the United States, indeed in many parts of the world, I thought of how my grandparents would be so proud about their great grandson becoming a judge, as are my wife of 62 years and me, of course.

The rise of antisemitism has been on many minds in recent times.

The meeting of the Southampton Town Board yesterday at which Adam received the appointment opened with Southampton Town Chief of Police James Kiernan delivering a message headed: “To the Town of Southampton Community.”

“I as Chief of Police,” Kiernan said, “want to convey the unified stance of the Southampton Town Police Department in offering unwavering support to all members of our community affected by antisemitism. Our commitment to combatting hate speech and actions has always been steadfast, and we’ve been fortunate that such incidents have been minimal in our community over recent years. Sadly, it is evident that antisemitism has resurfaced on a national scale to a degree we could never have anticipated in recent times.”

“In this digital age,” Kiernan continued, “where information flows freely, young minds may be exposed to toxic rhetoric, potentially warping their perspectives with misinformation. Rest-assured, we remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent the spread of this form of terrorism.”

“We want you to know that we are here to assist. Do not hesitate to call upon us at any time. While we may not all share the same background or experiences, we are united as a community, as fellow human beings, and we stand together in these trying times,” said Kiernan. “During this period of turmoil, please lean on us—your police department—for support and protection. We are here for you.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman followed up by speaking about his father who in the U.S. military “fought against Hitler in World War II” and “my mom,” who at 15 left Hungary for the U.S. but had to leave her family, which was “rounded up and slaughtered by Hitler.”

In recent weeks, he said, “I’ve seen the symbol of the Nazis glorified.” The swastika, he noted, has been marked on buildings in nearby Montauk, a place where he has spent much time.

Later at the meeting the resolution on Adam being appointed a judge came, with Jay speaking of how Adam has “done a fantastic job” on the Zoning Board and would be “a phenomenal judge…a fair and good judge.”

Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni, a schoolmate of Adam’s in Sag Harbor, from grade school through Pierson, and a good friend, said “you could not find a more ethical person.” 

Councilman John Bouvier said Adam did a “a wonderful job” on the Zoning Board and would “act in a good way as justice.”

After the vote, Adam was sworn in by Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer.

At the same moment, nearly 300,000 people, including some from our Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, were in Washington, D.C. protesting against antisemitism and the Hamas terror group which on October 7 killed more Jews than on any day since the Holocaust. Last week a leader of Hamas said it would repeat the onslaught many times to destroy Israel. “There will be a second, a third, a fourth,” he said. And by video link they heard Israeli President Isaac Herzog declare: “Never again is now.”

About the Author
Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury who has specialized in investigative reporting for 45 years. He is the host of the TV program “Enviro Close-Up,” the writer and presenter of numerous TV documentaries and the author of six books.