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In sympathy: the Honorable Dorothy T. Eisenberg

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York mourns the loss of the Honorable Dorothy T. Eisenberg, who served this Court with honor and distinction for 25 years. Judge Eisenberg passed away on February 28, 2022.

Judge Eisenberg ascended to the bench March 28, 1989, and although she “retired” on March 27, 2003 at the end of her 14-year term, she was immediately recalled into service. She served on recall status until her official retirement on March 27, 2014.

Born in New York City on October 7, 1929, she entered Brooklyn College when she was 16 years old and enrolled in Brooklyn Law School by her 19th birthday.  She was one of five women in her law school class.  She was required to wait several months after graduation to take the New York State Bar Exam because she had not yet turned 21 when she graduated in 1950. Unlike many of her female contemporaries, she found employment as a lawyer after graduation at Otterbourg, P.C.

She had her first child in 1952 and remained at home to care for her expanding family when fate struck a hard blow and her beloved husband Joe died of a sudden heart attack in 1966.  Judge Eisenberg dedicated herself to raising her family and returned to the practice of law in 1970.  From 1979 to 1989, she served as a Bankruptcy Panel Trustee for both the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.  She became one of the first female partners in a Long Island based law firm.  Beginning in 1983, she served on the Committee on Character and Fitness for the Second Department of the New York State Appellate Division, and later chaired the Nassau County Bar Association’s bankruptcy law committee for several years.  

During her stellar career, Judge Eisenberg was an advocate for women in the legal profession and played an integral part in the education of many young lawyers.   She was an early champion of flextime work schedules for her female law clerks.  She gave of her time with great distinction for three law schools, Brooklyn, St. John’s University Law School, and Touro Law School.  At Touro, Judge Eisenberg was one of the first federal judges to integrate the work of the Central Islip federal courthouse into the law school’s experiential learning curriculum.    

She also dedicated her time to serve as a Director of the Nassau County Bar Association, President of the Theodore Roosevelt Inn of Court and of the Nassau Suffolk Women’s Bar Association, the predecessor to the Nassau County Women’s Bar Group. She was an active member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a member of the American Bar Association and the New York City Bar.

Among her many notable cases, she presided over bankruptcy proceedings of several former associates of Jordan Belfort, the “Wolf of Wall Street,” and the bankruptcy proceedings of Agape World, which victimized numerous investors. Her contributions to legal scholarship included over 230 published opinions, which have been cited thousands of times, and numerous speeches and CLE articles.  She always looked forward to presiding over naturalization ceremonies for new citizens and considered it her greatest honor as the daughter of immigrants to welcome so many new Americans to their adopted homeland.

Judge Eisenberg was always family first. She provided unconditional love and support to her children and provided them with the confidence to reach their dreams. Despite the challenges of raising four children alone, two of her children became medical doctors and two became lawyers.  She was married a second time in 1985, to Morris Zeluck, who passed in 2007. 

She is survived by her children and their significant others in ( ), Richard (Margarett Williams), David (Elaine Zecher), Matthew (Ann), and Leslie (Gary Minzer),as well as ten grandchildren and two great granddaughters.  

Information about her funeral and how to honor her can be found at:

May her memory be for a blessing.