Breaking the mold of what a Sephardic Jewish woman might be expected to embody, Gina Levy has always been passionate and ambitious in pursuing her own path, and forging her own future, however uncommon in the Brooklyn neighborhood she grew up in.
A Graduate from both Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School (Levy graduated magna cum laude and received the Dean’s Merit Scholarship), she was most recently the only person found qualified by a judicial screening panel made up of 25 attorneys and holds membership in the Thomas Jefferson political club. After serving and advocating for her clients over the last 15 years, it struck Levy that she’d like to use her expertise to help defend the truth on a larger spectrum: she wanted to become judge. Always at home in a courthouse championing her clients, Levy now hopes to be on the other side of the courtroom with a gavel in hand.
As a teen, Levy attended the Magen David elementary and high school, Levy spent a small portion of her day learning the ins and outs of the court system. Soon Levy felt an undeniable longing to study law and put her lessons to use full-time.
Deborah Khan, the daughter of the woman who ran the mock trial program Levy participated in in Magen David, was also a lawyer and a mentor to Levy, who she later went to work for during law school. Levy felt indebted to Khan for her constant inspiration, and for remaining a source of guidance to her. When Khan suggested Levy return to Magen David to lead the mock trial program herself, Levy knew she had to accept, even though she felt uncertain about filling such an important role.
“Going back to volunteer was so rewarding. Bonding with the kids I taught; teaching them how to cross-examine, speak in public, dress for court, and the importance of standing to address a judge – and actually seeing results from our lessons – was an incredible experience,” she says. “It was addicting. Talking these kids through career plans and offering advice based on my own experiences, allowed me to feel like I truly had an impact on their lives.”
Asked about her own childhood in a community where many of the women were stay at home moms, the mother of three says, “There was nobody to really show me that you can be a full-time working mom and have a family. This is why I’ve always allowed kids to intern for me, shadow me on any given day, and into my life and home.” As the daughter of a woman who escaped religious persecution in Syria, she says, “I want to show Sephardic women what is possible.”
Levy also credits her immediate family for helping her maintain balance between work and home. “Honestly, you need to depend on other people,” she says. “My mother and sister are always around. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help, is something I’ve really learnt over the years.”
People on her side is something Levy has, as council members, district leaders, state committee leaders, and assembly members have endorsed her campaign. Councilman Mark Treyger, Councilman Kalman Yeger, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, District Leader David Schwartz, and Kings County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio are among the many.
The road to judgeship is not an easy one. “It’s been very tough,” Levy says. “But, 10 years out of law school, after years of hard work and watching my judge, I thought that maybe I could do a good job.” Levy then describes going on an interview to gain support and being told she’s too young, a frustrating remark for someone in her 40’s with 18 years of experience. “I said, I’m old enough to be president, I must be old enough to be a judge,” she laughs.
The Democratic primary is September 13. Levy is running in the areas of Midwood, Flatbush, Gravesend, Brighton Beach, Marine Park, Mill Basin, and Bergen Beach.
To learn more about Gina Levy, visit her website: GinaforJudge.com or connect with her via Instagram: @gina_for_judge.