American Jewish Committee to Honor Aaron Podhurst


The American Jewish Committee’s “Judge Learned Hand Award” is considered one of the highest honors given in the legal profession. It is not something given out lightly and really examines the life of the recipient and their lifetime achievements and dedication to individual rights and democratic values. This year, the Miami and Broward Office of the American Jewish Committee selected Aaron Podhurst to receive the award.

“At a time when diplomatic tensions have reached an all-time peak and international terror attacks continue to dominate our nation’s headlines, we are reminded more than ever the importance of a strong legal framework and independent judiciary,” said AJC Director Brian Siegal. “Arguably no one else in our community embodies these values as much as Aaron Podhurst does, and it is with a great deal of respect and admiration that we bestow this honor upon him.”

Podhurst is a founding partner of Podhurst Orseck, an aviation litigation practice, which has been noticed worldwide.

The “quintessential diplomat,” Podhurst has made it his goal to break down partisan barriers, diffuse tensions and help people see eye-to-eye in reaching a goal. He served as the unofficial mediator in the tense standoff over Elian Gonzalez in 1999 and negotiated the deal that brought us the Miami Museum Park.

He grew up in the Catskills region, northwest of New York City, where his parents repaired mattresses.

Dorothy & Aaron Podhurst


Aaron Podhurst with Emily Koffsky, Dorothy Podhurst and Andrew Koffsky
He attended the University of Michigan, where he played basketball and married his college sweetheart, Dorothy, who grew up a Floridian. He went to law school in New York and served his country in the military before moving to Miami where he founded his firm in 1967. He and Dorothy now live in Coconut Grove.

His firm handles multi-district litigation across the country, but outside the courtroom Podhurst devotes countless hours to community service. He has served as president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and is still very much involved in the organization. He is also a member of the board at various civic organizations, like the University of Miami and the hospital as well as the Community Partnership for the Homeless, the Miami Art Museum, now the Pérez Art Museum, for which he has served as President for twenty years. Through all his influential works, Podhurst was also awarded the Theodore “Ted” Klein Special Recognition Award given by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

He will be honored at AJC’s gala dinner on Wednesday, May 6th at Jungle Island.