Jodi Orlow Mackoff is a mother, wife, New York State Supreme Court Judge, and JWRP sister. A passionate, dedicated, and goal-oriented person, Jodi’s professional growth has not been without obstacles. As a young attorney, Jodi faced discrimination as a woman time and time again, but stayed committed to forging her own path in a career she loved. In our conversation, Jodi shared her journey to becoming a judge and what boldness means to her.
What inspired you to travel to Israel with the JWRP?
Between my work and my family, my life is very hectic and I was feeling exhausted. When someone mentioned that MOMentum began with a spiritual trip to Israel for women, I knew I needed to apply. I wanted to get away, give myself the opportunity to feel refreshed, and spend a week in Israel focused on self-growth.
How did MOMentum impact you?
I loved spending time with my group and our City Leaders and Bus Leaders. At the end of the day, we’d all sit together and have intimate discussions about the topic we’d recently explored — whether it was prayer or love or something else. Dancing at the Kotel on Friday night, together with 400 other women was inspiring, especially when a group of Israeli women soldiers joined our circle and danced in the middle.
While in Israel, I learned the importance of taking the time to focus on myself. In order to make others happy, I need to feel fulfilled. Now back to my regular routine, I often remind myself to take a moment to breathe and relax. Connecting to Jewish values has also helped me improve so many of my relationships.
What first compelled you to run for judge?
As a practicing attorney, I did a lot of trial work and realized that I wanted to become a judge. I’m a strong and unbiased person who has a reputation for being tough and fair. I have tremendous sympathy and empathy for people. I give everyone a chance to speak, I take everything into consideration, and ultimately, I make decisions based on the law. Today, I work on a lot of matrimonial settlements. People come in feeling upset and hurt, and I try to take the emotion out of the picture in order to reach settlements that are just and lawful.
What role has boldness played in your career path?
When I first started trying cases, I was very young. Many male attorneys tried to abuse me and walk all over me. The partners in my law firm didn’t want to assign me trials because they said that I’d cry in court. So, I became tougher and kept going.
To me, boldness means speaking up for yourself. It means not letting other people tell you who you are, but defining yourself instead. Boldness is pursuing what you want, regardless of what others say. Set goals for yourself and fight for them. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.
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