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Daniel Ganopolsky Studies Family Law



Daniel Ganopolsky (YC ’24) is a Straus Scholar majoring in political science. In the spring of 2024, he interned at the New York City Family Court, and was supported by a grant from the Straus Center’s Impact Office. After graduation, Mr. Ganopolsky hopes to work as a paralegal, and then attend law school. Below, he reflects on his internship experience.


My internship at the New York City Family Court for Judge Pamela Sheininger involved administrative and observational tasks, which enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of the legal and social aspects involved in cases related to family law. I assisted court staff with filing paperwork, organizing case materials, and scheduling appointments. I also had the opportunity to observe court proceedings related to child custody, cases dealing with child neglect, and adoption.


The most significant aspect of my internship was research. I assisted the judge with case law research by organizing evidence, contacting other courts, and summarizing large documents and investigative material. I gained an in-depth understanding of the court's procedures and how they impact families; this allowed me to better understand how judges, attorneys, and social workers interact in court, and the profound challenges faced by many families going through the system. Most interestingly, my research also allowed me to analyze how Halakha (Jewish law) might inform or contrast with decisions made in family court regarding the Jewish families I encountered.


This internship was challenging, and over the course of the semester I honed and developed many skills. I learned to read legal documents, improved my legal writing and strengthened my communication skills in a new professional environment. But most surprising was the emotional weight of the court proceedings. Witnessing families navigate these difficult situations highlighted the importance of empathy and the availability of meaningful social support within the family court system. The internship exposed me to the complex, and sometimes heartbreaking, realities faced by vulnerable individuals who rely on our American justice system. Witnessing these cases firsthand affirmed my desire to play a role in upholding our courts’ integrity and pursuing legal accountability.


As a Straus Scholar, my worldview had been shaped by my commitment to the study of Torah and Western thought, and this internship allowed me to apply those principles in a real-world setting. I was challenged to reconcile Torah, secular wisdom, and the pursuit of a more just world, which is at the core of the Straus Scholars program. I encourage other Straus Scholars and YU students to pursue similar legal internships. As American Jews, we are obligated to understand the legal issues facing families and children in our immediate community and in American society at large, and we must pursue solutions that embody Torah values and Jewish ethics alongside civic legal remedies.