Fordham Law

In Memorial: Tribute to Jill Chaifetz from the Law School Community

February 16, 2006

Jill Chaifetz, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York and an adjunct faculty member at Fordham Law School, died of ovarian cancer on February 2, 2006.  An excerpt from the following tribute was presented at her memorial service on February 16 on behalf of the Fordham Law School Community.

Jill Chaifetz was  a fabulous teacher, mentor and role model who was beloved by the Fordham Law School community.  I want Jill's family - her husband, Daniel Seltzer; her children Leila, Isaac and Milo Selchaif; her parents Marilyn and Malcolm Chaifetz and other members of her family - to know how much Jill meant to us here at Fordham.
Jill began teaching Children and the Law at Fordham ten years ago, together with her colleague and friend Kevin Ryan.  Jill brought to the classroom a remarkable depth of knowledge and a passion for justice.  The combination of her superb legal skill and deep commitment to bettering the lives of children showed us how lawyers can be a tremendous force for good.  Her tenacity and single mindedness in dealing with society's most difficult and complex problems showed us that no problem is too difficult to tackle.
In 2001, Jill received the Public Interest Resource Center's Louis J. Lefkowitz Public Service Award, which is presented each year to two lawyers who work in the public service.   The Lefkowitz award is one that our schools treasures as an honor of the greatest importance because the recipients' lives embody our motto, "In the Service of Others."
Jill's citation read: "To Jill Chaifetz for her commitment to work on behalf of the disadvantaged, which is at the heart of the mission of Fordham Law School, in the spirit of Louis J. Lefkowitz, an honored alumnus who, as Attorney General of the State of New York, embodied the highest standards of public service."  April 10th, 2001, the date we presented the award to Jill, was extraordinarily memorable, as Jill's parents, her husband, and Kevin Ryan all joined us for the awards ceremony and dinner.  The  program at  which Jill received the award was particularly moving, given her close ties to students, faculty and administrators, many of whom were in the room. Honoring Jill was not only a tribute to her, but a means of communicating to our students the values that Fordham Law School seeks to instill and to celebrate.  I am glad that we recognized and appreciated Jill's remarkable contributions at the time.
I also want to express my gratitude to Jill's co-teacher, Kevin Ryan. Kevin also brings a level of knowledge, skill and passion into the classroom that made him an ideal partner in the classrroom. Together Jill and Kevin were really a dream team.
Jill taught at Fordham for the last time this past Fall, at a point when she was already very ill.  Her generosity and her eagerness to teach are reflected in the fact that she overcame enormous obstacles just to make it to the classroom. Her commitment was inspiring and moving.  Jill's legacy here is an extraordinary one, and we will always treasure her memory.