Friday, May 20, 2016

The High Priestess of Justice


Last night, I went to a farewell party to celebrate my good friend Michele Sviridoff, who is retiring after I don't know how many years of public service.  I was asked to make a toast to Michele.  This is what I said:

I first met Michele back in the early 1990s when I joined the Midtown Community Court.

I was led down this particular rabbit hole by John Feinblatt.  I don’t know if he did it on purpose or not, but John seemed to have overlooked a few telling facts during the interview process.

First of all, he didn’t tell me that he intended to carve out an office for me out of the staff lunchroom, immediately guaranteeing that I would be the least popular employee in the building.  And he certainly didn’t prepare me for the personalities that I would encounter.  In addition to lifelong frenemy Eric Lee, there was the world-famous city planner who was stationed in a temporary desk by the copy machine.  And there was the former embezzler who ran the office with an iron fist until it turned out that maybe he wasn’t as rehabilitated as we thought.

In this mix, Michele stood out as a beacon of sanity and warmth.  For reasons that are obscure to me, she took an immediate interest in my well-being and helped me to learn how to navigate the workplace.

As I got to know her better, I learned that Michele was just as mysterious as everyone else at  Midtown. She was the czar of research, but when I asked her about her educational background, it turned out she was a literary theorist and not a criminologist or a statistician.  She seemed to have no interest whatsoever in making money, but she somehow knew the value of every piece of real estate in Manhattan.

But most intriguingly of all, even though she was the most rigorous thinker I had ever met – a distinction that she still holds, by the way – she also was someone who did regular Tarot card readings for the people in her life.

So in honor of Michele, I created this Tarot Card: The High Priestess of Justice.  This is the inscription:

The High Priestess of Justice represents Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding.  The High Priestess signifies both academic rigor and deep empathy.  She has a profound mastery of data and the justice system that she uses to influence policy and advance significant reforms.  She also possesses a keen understanding of people that she uses to teach and nurture.

Anyone who is fortunate to draw the High Priestess of Justice tarot card will find their intelligence and creativity increased.  All hail the High Priestess of Justice!