Institute of International Commercial Law
Remembering our Colleague Professor Albert H. KritzerApril 21, 1928-June 1, 2010
The Pace Institute of International Commercial Law sadly notes the passing of its co-founder, Albert H. Kritzer. He was a world renowned leader in the field of international commercial law. Professor Kritzer died on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 in Egypt where he was to be presented with the 2010 Arab Conference for Commercial & Maritime Law Career Achievement Award. A funeral service was held on Friday, June 4, 2010 at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 West 76th Street, New York.
An informal gathering of family, friends and colleagues to celebrate the life and work of Albert H. Krtizer was held at the Institute of International Commercial Law on Saturday, June 5, 2010.
A Tribute in memory of Professor Al Kritzer was held on the occasion of the 43rd session of UNCITRAL in New York. It was held on June 24th at 6:30pm at The Tillman Chapel Church Center for the United Nations. <Memorial program>
Professor Kritzer was the architect of the award-winning CISG Database and was also an adjunct professor of law at Pace Law School. He developed a unique online database on the United Nations Convention on Contracts on the International Sales of Goods (the CISG) and taught courses on the CISG. The database has earned a central place in the scholarship, teaching, and practice of international sales law, regularly receiving in excess of 100,000 hits per day, and is consistently the first result of an online search for “International Commercial Law.” Additionally, his popular law school seminar frequently produced student research papers that were published in leading academic journals around the world.
To learn more about Professor Kritzer’s extraordinary accomplishments, please visit the CISG database or read Camilla B. Andersen and Ulrich G. Schroeter eds., Sharing International Commercial Law across National Borders: Festschrift for Albert H. Kritzer on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday (2008).
Albert Kritzer leaves three daughters and a global network of admirers, former students and colleagues. See below some of the messages in his memory.
Remebering Prof. Kritzer
In Memoriam of Albert H. Kritzer
Jing Li2010 says:
I was in shot when I heard the news. There are so many words that I ought to have said, so much that I ought to have done, and yet, I always thought I would put them away for this and that reason, thinking that I had another day.
I started working with Prof. Kritzer on the translation program more than a year ago in the hope of introducing more Chinese international commercial arbitration cases to the CISG database he edited. I admired Prof. Kritzer for all the efforts he had been putting into pushing the Chinese legal system towards a more modern and international trend along with other leading countries. With his great work and his persistence, he connected with the best scholars and students in the field in China to work with him. We also agreed to “tame the dragon” by working more closely together in translating and editing the Chinese cases. He always challenged me with the most difficult cases and when I doubted myself, he encouraged me like a mentor, like a friend, and like a father. He always believed in me.
I first met Prof. Kritzer in person this January. It was on a cold New York weekend afternoon. He drove all the way from Pace Law to the train station to wait for me and pick me up. He was exactly how I pictured him to be. Very kind and interesting. We enjoyed a wonderful Spanish lunch where he insisted ordering a giant dessert yet watched me eat most of it, saying that he had to watch his health, but it was like him enjoying it knowing that I loved it. I wanted to hold the door for him when exiting the restaurant, but he struggled to hold it for me. We then visited his second home – the International Commercial Law Institute, where all the great minds meet. He said he was very ineffective, so he worked long hours and on the weekends as well. He showed me pictures of his adopted Chinese son and daughter, who were his favorite students and friends and told me stories. When I was complaining the difficulties of doing research, he spread his arms, “Welcome!” I was invited to use the library any time I want!
I only met Prof. Kritzer one other time afterwards for Chinese New Year. I promised him to write an essay on a topic that he gave me. However, I’ve been putting it off because of my “busy” schedule, thinking things could wait. I also promised Prof. Kritzer to visit, on behalf of the Institute, the CIETAC in Shanghai to establish a relationship later this year. Now that things have changed, I know that accomplishing these unfinished missions is the greatest honor from me to Prof. Kritzer.
Anna Linne says:
I feel indebted to Al, and it has to do with one of Al's greatest gifts: his ability to make close friends all over the world, who then end up making friends with one another. He befriended my husband Ralph when Ralph worked at the University of Tromso law school in Norway over a decade ago. In 2007, when Ralph came from England to visit Al, I was Al's student, great admirer, and friend, and I naturally extended my trust and friendship to Ralph as a result of my friendship with Al. It was due to the faith and good will we had for Al that Ralph and I were able to explore starting a trans-Atlantic relationship after knowing each other for only two weeks. Al witnessed our marriage in 2008, visited us in the hospital when we welcomed our son Austin in 2009, and also knew that we are expecting a second child this winter.
Over the last year and a half, we lived 15 minutes away from Al and he has been a frequent presence at our house on Fridays, sharing a meal, stories of his past, and news from his work. His absence is much felt in our household, and we can't help but miss him.
Al had always said that he would live until he was 120. During a long car ride in China in 2007, he explained that this life expectancy was as God had granted Abraham, making me realize that jokes aside, he was at least half serious. Over time, I became convinced that he had the energy to live many more years than he had.
At the age of 82, Al often worked a 7 day week, 12 hours a day, on the CISG database and other international commercial law matters, providing his own funds to support the effort, busy coming up with new ideas or plans for new projects, busy making new friends all over the globe, and busy traveling internationally to meetings and conferences. I heard comments that this period was among the periods of his life when he was most professionally content. With his energy and enthusiasm, one may find it hard to believe that in October 2009, before his pacemaker was replaced, the doctor evaluated his previously damaged heart to be only functioning in the 20% range.
It was probably under that heart condition that he traveled to China in late 2007 to attend the CISG conference in Wuhan, yet another conference largely due to his initiative, and he climbed the mountains along the Three Gorges, though with some assistance at times. He often said that he was too busy to get sick, a statement reflecting his belief that will power and self discipline trump external factors.
Al had an exceptionally fertile mind for as long as we knew him. He constantly came up with new ideas and plans for new projects. The bridge of friendship he brought to Egypt intending to be kept by the winning Vis team in the region each year was one of the most recent examples. The last time he stopped by our house, in the middle of May, one of our topics of discussion was his idea for helping with the oil spill in the Gulf region.
Although Al lived a long, rich and fulfilled life, it was still too short for his young and active mind. We miss him greatly and he will live on in our hearts. Perhaps one way for us to honor his memory is to take on a little bit of his enthusiasm for life. Rest in peace, Al. With love and gratitude, Anna, Ralph and our offspring.
Thank you Al
Lisa Spagnolo says:
Like so many, I will miss Professor Kritzer very much.
He had a special give for fostering friendship amongst scholars and practitioners around the world.
This is what made his contribution so great - with Al, whatever he began was magnified ten-fold by his influence in generating enthusiasm and co-operation amongst others.
The best way we can honour Al is to continue in his spirit of global goodwill.
I take this opportunity to honor Albert H. Kritzer – a cherished friend, a creative visionary and free spirit and a distinguished colleague.
Al was constantly reaching out to create new avenues of friendship and communication to bring more civility, rationality, and understanding into the world via the promotion of the uniform interpretation and application of international trade agreements. He was on such a mission when he died while on a trip to Egypt with family and friends in which the Arab Conference for Commercial and Maritime Law honored him as the recipient of their 2010 Career Achievement Award.
Before his departure to Egypt he enthusiastically shared with me plans for creation of another arbitration Moot Court center in Bahrain as a bridge of friendship between Arab Law Schools and Law Schools from other systems and countries.
Along with Willem C. Vis and Eric Bergsten, Al was instrumental in establishing the first Vis Moot Court in Vienna in the early 1990’s. From a modest beginning, the Vis moot has grown to over 250 participating Law Schools from around the world, giving unique opportunities to law students, practitioners and academics to interact professionally and culturally.
I had long known about Al’s vision, scholarship, dedicated creative work, and in particular, his work in creating and developing the global electronic CISG library. However, only recently did I have the foresight to include him regularly on the panel of speakers on the Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG) at the Uniform Commercial Code Institute. This was the beginning of a lasting friendship. His vision, optimism and can-do outlook were contagious to all of us. It was difficult to decline his invitations to become involved in projects requiring dedication and commitment. – and so the CISG Database, the Global Consumer Law Forum (including his idea for a soft law for cross-border consumer disputes – GPICC) and the global online dispute resolution projects are with us as part of his legacy.
We are saddened by Al’s departure. We nevertheless rejoice in the legacy he has left us – a sense of power, achievement, and do-ability, coupled with a sense of friendship, equity and fairness in individual, national and international dealings.
We salute Al Kritzer - our cherished friend and colleague, and his life of achievements and idealism.
Last word written by Prof. Kritzer is Peace!
Nader M. Ibrahim says:
This is the last academic work written by Prof. Kritzer, I added his name, event and date, but his last written word was Peace.
INFLUENCE OF ISLAM ON THE WESTERN LEGAL CULTURE
Primary source: Wyndham Anstis Bewes, The Romance of the Law Merchant (1923)
For many years, it was presumed that modern commercial law is a product of the Italian merchants, due to their dominance of international trade around the world throughout the Middle Ages. While it is true that the Romans had dominated every aspect of international trade and the law merchant developed through the laws of the merchants, especially at the great international fairs of the time, but the assumption that it was invented by those Roman merchants is a common misperception. That misperception arose because of the fact that international law saw a revival in the 12th century, and at that time, it was the merchants of Italy who were at the head of the resurgence of trade in the West and much of what we know about the law merchant is based on documentations provided by them and their fellow merchants of the Western countries. However, there is much more to the law merchant than the contributions to it by the merchants of those countries.
While it is true that Arab merchants may not have invented the concepts of the law merchant, the Rome clearly adopted its system from its Arab predecessors in trade. It is likely that the Phoenicians, who developed the trade routes along the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean, originally invented the concepts. For hundreds and hundreds of years after the fall of Rome, it is clear that the Arab merchants had dominated the industry. Rich caravans of “spices, gold, silver, silks, robes, arms of every kind” were common occurrences.
As Wyndham Anstis Bewes noted in his work “The Romance of the Law Merchant”, at the time of the commercial renaissance of the Mediterranean, there was no statutory commercial law, but rather, similarly to how it is now through extra-judicial systems like arbitration, “the law of the merchants … was customary law, i.e., the habitual practice of merchants of all lands enforced in the summary manner by officials familiar with trade.” Although Bewes, in 1923, noted the fact that at the time the Italian merchants became prominent in international trade, the question still remained about the actual origin of the law merchant; since clearly “[i]t all appears at once, like Minerva spring fully armed from the brain of Jove; but although this great commercial development was new in European hands, it was of centuries’ standing in the hands of the Eastern nations.” It is logical to assume, and from the historical understandings that have developed since Bewes’ recitation in 1923, it is safe to state, that as the Western merchants began to capture the trade from the East, they adopted the customs under which they had operated prior thereto
Bewes makes clear in his work that the Western world owes much to its Arab predecessors, both in trade and law when he states that:
Europe may be indebted to the East for the earliest form of shipping document, as well as for the law merchant generally, as practised by merchants from the early times of the Assyrian and Babylonian kingdoms. She is, at any rate, the debtor of the Chinese for the invention of the compass, although it was left to the Arabs to adapt it for the purposes of navigation, about the year 1100; while she is indebted to the latter also for the astrolabe, these both coming into general use both East and West about 1200. Thus, once again the Arabs were the channel of a great good, and this at th[at] crucial time ...
Understanding the history of trade, it is evident that the question that had not been asked was “How did the merchants of the West develop their own law?” The answer to that question goes all the way back to the Norman occupation of Tunisia (known previously as Ifriqiyya) and Sicily in the Twelfth Century, at which time those territories were conquered and taken from its Muslim inhabitants. At that time, the Maliki School of Law, a system of Islamic legal doctrine, governed each Sicily and Tunisia, and the Western common law took on many significant aspects of Islamic law as a result.
Roger I brought Sicily, with its predominantly Muslim culture, back into the European political world, beginning the integration of Muslim social and legal culture into the mainstream of Europe, retaining many of the Islamic elements of government. It was primarily due to the Norman presence across Medieval Europe which facilitated this spread of Islamic legal culture. Henry II then took much of the system of law found under Roger II. Although it was not documented clearly during that time, it is clear from the resulting development of the European law that the Islamic rule of law permeated the European legal culture.
By looking through some of the commonly shared principles of the Islamic and Western legal schemes, it is clear that we have in common more than we have distinct, even if the principles are applied slightly differently. Some examples of these foundational similarities are:
Comparison of Islamic and Western Contract Law (Aqd) and the Law Merchant
With such clear similarities between Islamic and Western legal culture in a broad sense, it is not surprising that the Western merchants adapted to the foundations of the law merchant once they broke out of the cocoon of feudalism to become active in the trade scene. While there are clearly differences in the commercial law of Islamic states and the Western rule of law, many of the foundations to commercial law are shared, and can arguably be traced to the Islamic legal tradition.
There are many broad commercial principles which are derived from Islamic law and have become foundational concepts to many commercial codes around the world:
It is clear from all of the connections between legal cultures that the customary law merchant that developed under Phoenician and Islamic custodianship prior to the Roman dominance of international trade has served as the basis for many of the commercial codes of modern legal systems. As such, history has shown that international trade has served as one of the foundations for so many legal systems through common understanding and adoption of foreign legal ideals.
Concluding Words from the Writings of M. Huvelin
In his book on the law merchant, Bewes ends his discussion of the development of the law with a lengthy quote on the importance of international trade in the development of international relations. As Bewes found it poignant to include the lengthy quote at the end of his work, it seems equally fitting here.
The influence of the fairs on our public law, on the movement of municipal emancipation and on the enfranchisement of the commons is undeniable. More striking still is their influence on the relations of international law; the term ‘”fair” is the equivalent of the term “peace.” The reaction against the principles of primitive hostility is working under the influence of commercial needs. If, perhaps, it is incorrect to say that the relations of hospitality, containing in germ the most characteristic institutions of international law, are only borne of the necessities of trade, it must still be recognised that they have powerfully contributed to second in this matter the affinities of religions and races. Thanks to the progress of the peace of the fairs and their safe-conducts, the communications of foreigner with foreigner become more certain; international relations multiply; transactions are surrounded by guaranties; and the ideas of good faith and of the loyalty which should preside over commerce are more and more developed. At the same time the means of transport are being perfected. Men, hitherto thrown back upon themselves in the bosom of a family group, assume contact with each other; original mistrust is weakening; and already there appear tendencies to sociability which hitherto nothing had revealed. Little by little the last vestiges of primitive hostility disappear. Reprisals and the droit d’aubaine cease. Privileges which had for long made fairs and markets asylums withdrawn from the common law, gain more and more ground. The peace of commerce conquers the world, and fairs only disappear after accomplishing their work.
Their role is not less remarkable in economic matters. They are the first places where the notions of value are able to develop; the law of supply and demand, the law of the balance of trade find there their first application. It is at the fairs that merchandise and money cease to be mere objects of consumption, and become capital. Thanks to the fairs, traffic is regularised and submitted to the great law of competition.
At the same time the law of the fairs, born of the peace of commerce, is acting strongly on institutions under the ordinary law still embued with its ancient rigours. … The tendency to uniformity is strengthened. In the midst of the diversity of local law, the law of the great fairs everywhere remains the same in its essential features. This law is universal almost by the same right as the Canon law. The jurisdictions of the fairs command obedience in all parts. And thus emerges the conception of the law merchant, outside and above civil statutes and local commercial usages. … The modern world has preserved visible traces of this influence. In the words of Goldschmidt, it carries a mercantile signature. Everything shows it – both things and words: objects without defects are called merchantable goods, current money is terms “money of the merchants,” movable fortune is often called “fortune of the merchants.”
Thus the fairs, this original form of terrestrial commerce, have been in the history of civilisation, incomparable instruments of reconciliation, of unification and of peace.
Prof. Alber Kritzer
Nader M. Ibrahim says:
Dear Friends of Prof. Krizer,
My full time is to teach law, mostly related to international trade. I had a dream for my city, Alexandria, to one day to be a major forum where professors and practitioners of law could meet annually to exchange experience and build new friendships.
I never forgot about students, they are the future. I hopped through the forum that they can get experience and further networking for their future professional career. A moot court was always on the table, but never realized for shortage of experience and resources.
I however started in 2007, an annual Arab conference for Commercial and Maritime Law, and founded in 2008 an NGO to secure its continuance, the Arab Society for Commercial and Maritime Law (www.ascml.org). We managed to convince remarkable professors and law practitioners to join us from Egypt and the region, Arabs and Europeans. The dream was global network for the benefit of good law practice in the Arab World. Each year we raised an issue that needs attention in the Arab World.
This year, we found that only five Arab countries are members to the 1980 UN Convention on contracts for the international sale of goods, the CISG, while the Arab world contains more than 21 countries (20 states). We thought it would be appropriate to raise the issue and promote for further acceding to the convention, this time from the point of view of the region, the Euro-Med, making advantage of the CISG 30th Anniversary. Europe was the maximum boarders of our dreams, and we managed to convince many to participate, all of them generously self-financed their trips.
One issue was left open, the Career Achievement Prize, a simple plate with a statement of recognition. This year we decided to leave it to the CISG Advisory Council, they accepted to help and came to us with a big surprise; it was their nomination of Prof. Kritzer. They said he will not be able to come, taking under consideration his age constrains. We were very happy though, because it was a big honor. This is not the end of the story, Prof. Kritzer, though he did not meet or exchange ideas with us, quickly found us a role in his future projects, and which is to help lead a moot court in the region, starting next March 2011 in Bahrain, under the name of Middle East Moot Court and more than that he decided to come in person with a surprise for us, to be the custodian of the future moot court prize, and which is the bridge of friendship with a text from the Kuran on it and which states that God created us different tribes in order to get to know each other. He was planning to surprise us in the conference. But we knew accidently about it from other email communications. I did not mention it in my emails with him, but he did in a late email before he comes to Egypt. I asked for the 5th Arab Conference to head the next Bahrain moot, he did not answer, but was working on it. When we were on the tragic Nile cruise trip of Friday (May 28, 2010), he told me about the acceptance of the organizers, and he passed to me the contacts of the person in charge, all in a printed hard copy. This is as if he was afraid he will not be in contact with me again!
A moot between the Arab law schools, to prepare the best for the Vis moot, what a wonderful idea.
Mr. Stuart Gander, Prof. Kritzer’s son-in-law, told me that Prof. Kritzer asked for Everett, his grandson, to join Prof. Kritzer to Alexandria. The Family accepted and offered that all to join, including Mrs. Lise Gander, Prof. Krtizer’s daughter, and Celeste, the grand-daughter. At the end of the Nile cruise of May 28th, Prof. Kritzer, was not fit to travel to Alexandria as planned, only Everett and Celeste joined me to Alexandria. Next day, Saturday May 29th was the first day of the conference, the program took place as planned and the prize was presented. Guess who took it on behalf of Prof. Kritzer, it was Everett and Celeste!
Everett was remarkable; he even said few words in honor of his grandfather. Prof. Kritzer called me that day, I was happy to see him progressing; he even arranged for the Bridge of Friendship to be sent to me in Alexandria with Mr. Gander.
All the time, Prof. Kritzer was not occupied by his health but by his presentation, in which he was planning to initiate the moot court for the Middle East, this is the present, and a dialogue forum and which he called the future. He was also planning to shed light on th role of Shari’a on the development of both civil and common law, that was the past.
Prof. Kritzer was a visionary, he planned for the future and the future was very well presented in our conference. A small city, a small law society, a small event, a small dream, but a big future for all.
Dear Prof. Kritzer,
I did not know you before, but you left me with too much to empty my life. The Bridge of Friendship is with me now, and I promise you, your travel to Egypt will never be for nothing.
Dr. Nader M. Ibrahim
Stories of Albert H. Kritzer
I still remain in the shock. It is just a couple of months ago when I had a dinner with Al in White Plains, years ago when we first met in person in Beijing and stayed together for days in Beijing and Wuhan.
I still remeber it was Al that who wrote to encourage and help me to improve when I submitted my first manuscript to CISG Database over seven years ago. Following that, Al's encouragement and valuable comments and advice stay along the way when I published my first and second books and am writing on the third. They will stay to light my way to follow, just like his kindly smiles perpetually live in my heart.
Dear Vikki, pls. kindly cc my email@example.com a message if a larger service is available for the internaitonal community to memorize.
Chengwei LIU, Boalt '10
Clayton P. Gillette says:
I am greatly saddened by Al's passing. All of us who deal with international sales law are forever deeply in his debt. His selfless creation of public goods for the rest of us, including the Vis Moot and most importantly the Pace CISG Website, has contributed more to research and scholarship about international sales than I can say. His generosity was remarkable. He will be impossible to replace, and we will all be impoverished by his absence.
Al Kritzer: A Pioneer, a Visionary, an Enthusiast and a Great Human
I have known Al for some 13 years having had as first communication, an invitation to organise a team for the first moot. Although I have moved around in the last 17 years strangely enough, I have kept this letter. I got to know him in person, and he was a very warm person, when I attended my first moot in 1998.
He asked me to assist him with the organisation of the CISG-Advisory Council. I was thrilled and honoured and have worked with him intensely on the project and was the first secretary of the CISG-AC for good six years.
We also worked together on the Queen Mary Case Translation Programme which has so far coordinated and arranged for the translation of hundred of CISG court cases and arbitral awards into English. He called this exercise: Taming the Dragons.
We have also published two pieces together and co-taught a couple of seminars.
What was striking about Al was his eternal youth: he was enthusiastic, persistent, committed to his work, friends and students, a fighter and a very warm person. His hugs were sincere and humbling. His passion about uniform sales law was infinite and altruistic. He had so many ideas and implemented a great deal of them but could have gone for many more years, constantly adapting to times.
His legacies (plural!) are simply too many to mention:
Al has been a Visionary, a Pioneer in Legal Research, Analysis and Scholarship, a Genuine Enthusiast of International Uniform Law and a Great Self-less Friend and Family to so many people.
He will be sadly missed but his life and achievements will be celebrated for many years to come. His Legacy is Unparalleled!
My Dearest Al, may your soul rest in peace. We all have to continue your work!
Vikki Rogers 76 says:
We have set up this site for our beloved friend and colleague, Albert Kritzer, so that people may share stories, experiences or feeling about his life and his tragic unexpected passing.
I still remain in shock at the loss of my mentor and dear friend who has taught me so much about international commercial law, how to approach life with enthusiasm and hard work, and being a good friend. Al, I am happy that you are with your Jacqueline and Annette again, but you are very much missed here.
Keithe Bennett says:
The first time I met Al was one of the first days I started working for Pace Law School, and my staff and I were all under a lot of stress due to final exams. He walked into the helpdesk and told one of my new staff members he was “there for his daily hug” . . . . and printer toner. He was so kind and welcoming and it made put everything in perspective for a moment.
Al took such pride in his work, of which a part is the CISG database. I think even if there was a power outage it might be able to run off his passion. There are many IT folks who feel this connection to him for this reason; what he created was groundbreaking and this is only beginning to touch on his life accomplishments.
Al, you led a full life, and thanks for arranging for a nice day =) You will be missed dearly.
Jeff Aresty says:
I've known and worked with Al two times in my career - almost 20 years ago, Al helped me organize the American Bar Associations's Guide to International Business Negotiations. The ABA gave me a small budget to bring a group of distinguished international negotiators to a meeting in the Bahamas, and Al organized an eclectic group for me, bridging generations and cultures -where for 4 days, around pools, bars, and in air conditioned rooms, we came up with our first edition (we are now in the 3rd edition - so Al's vision and connections laid a strong foundation).
And, recently, when Vikki Rogers and I met on a project on online dispute resolution, I came to visit her at Pace Law School, and, there was Al, once again. I was so fortunate to have reconnected with Al, through Vikki, and to have spent some time again with him in discussion about the importance of cross-cultural communication in international law.
Al understood world peace, and, how to create the conditions on our planet to make it possible. His legacy, in bringing young people together from many cultures, in vibrant discussions and debates with each other, about the meaning of law and life, is the possibility of bringing an end to distrust and war. We owe it to his memory - in the words of J. Lennon - to give peace a chance.
Joseph Lookofsky says:
I am very sad to have lost such a kind and generous friend. His contribution to the CISG world during the last 30 years is unique and well-known. As evidenced by the Festschrift presented to him in Vienna on the occasion of his 80th birthday (Sharing International Commercial Law) and the award he received in Egypt, Al died at the top of his game. He was a fine man in every way.
I wrote a rather personal tribute to Al for his Festschrift. This piece, entitled "On Line with Al K," tells more about my high regard for him.
Leandro Tripodi says:
Dear Professor Lookofsky, I was reading your tribute on the verge of tears to try to consolate myself the day after he passed away. He himself gave me the copy of the Festschrift I had in my hands that has his autograph on the first page.
Indira Satarkulova says:
I have been honored to meet Professor Kritzer as an international student from Kyrgyzstan pursuing LL.M degree at Pace Law School. He was the most wise, experienced and outstanding Professor, scientist and lawyer I have ever met. He was strong and energetic. He loved life and life loved him. He did not have any ill-wishers or enemies. The beloved father, grandfather and an exceptional person.
Professor Kritzer was always willing to share with all his knowledge. He had such an open and generous soul and big warm heart. In my heart Professor Kritzer became my second Father whom I cherished, loved and respected. I shall always be thankful to God for the loving Father that he blessed me with. I shall never again see a more happy person than Professor Kritzer.
Its been raining all day long in Kyrgyzstan since I got to know that I will never see Professor again. By local belief when good person dies the whole world is grieving and each rain drop reflects his merits and good deeds. And it is still raining In Kyrgyzstan since June 1... His death left a heartache that will never heal. He was not the one who was supposed to leave this world. He left too early, too soon, too unfair.. My heart is broken.
Dear members of Professor Kritzer's family, friends, colleagues,
Please accept our condolences. Our prayers and thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Professor Albert H.Kritzer will always live in our hearts.
Those we love don’t go away,
With deepest sympathies,
Indira Satarkulova and her family from Kyrgyzstan
XU Junke says:
I was very grieved to hear Professor Kritzer passsing. It is just a couple of months ago when I had a dinner and enjoyed the opera with him in Vienna. I still remeber it was Prof. Kritzer that who wrote to encourage and help me to do some research work in the field of the international consumer law. I am very sad to have lost such a kind and generous mentor. His contribution to the CISG world during the last 30 years is unique and well-known. He was initiatling the forum of international consumer law .we have to continue his work. It is the best memory to him.
Dear members of Professor Kritzer's family, friends, colleagues,
Please accept my condolences. Professor Albert H.Kritzer will always live in our hearts.
Dear members of Professor Kritzer's family, friends, colleagues,
We are greatly shocked by Professor Kritzer's passing. The law community lost a great master, and the world lost a great human.
As a pioneer in international commercial law and dispute resolution, Professor Kritzer was enthusiastic and energetic with unique and widely recognized contribution. His great achievements benefit the world trade and law community, and will be celebrated for many years. His remarkable personality will be the most valuable memory of all his friends.
Please accept our condolences. Professor Kritzer will always live in our hearts.
My Words For My Father, Al Kritzer
Rachelle Kritzer says:
My Words For My Father, Al Kritzer
Read at his funeral service by Rachelle Kritzer
One of the highlights of my childhood was going to see “Man of La Mancha” on Broadway with my father. The performance featured Richard Kiley, the actor who originated the role of Don Quixote. My father and I adored this story and believe it or not, we both memorized the words to the song, The Impossible Dream.
I cannot speak more eloquently than Don Quixote. In this song, Don Quixote explains his quest and the reasons behind it ... in doing so; he captures the essence of the play.
The lyrics are as follows:
The Impossible Dream
To dream ... the impossible dream ...
This is my quest, to follow that star ...
And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
My father was a passionate and inspirational man. He used to joke that one of his medications Bromocriptine was similar to Kryptonite and that he, in fact, was Superman. As farfetched as it sounds, it was true. My father’s intellect, passion, and vision were those of a Superman. However, his body remained mortal with serious medical issues of Addison’s disease and Congestive Heart Failure and he was lucky enough to have cheated death on several prior occasions.
I am so proud of my father and so proud of his legacy. He was a religious man who lived his life according to his values and principles. My father died heroically in the midst of a glorious quest.
Picture this: My father riding into Egypt on a camel, not unlike the mythical Don Quixote. And remember the words: “To fight for the right, without question or pause ...” My father’s quest was to negotiate peace between Muslims, Jews, and Christians through international trade agreements.
And like Don Quixote, he “strove, with his last ounce of courage, to reach ... that unreachable star ...” (world peace between all tribes of people).
As his daughter, I am angered and saddened by his pushing himself beyond all medical advice and human limitations. As his daughter, I sometimes selfishly did not want to share him with the international community. During his lifetime, one of my passions was trying to make him listen to his doctors and trying to protect him from harm.
But in the end, I realize that my father lived and died with no regrets. My father’s life was inspirational to us all. It was a rich life, a passionate life and a meaningful life.
In the end, I have to agree with my father. He lived as a Superman and he died as a Superman and I will truly miss him.
Rachelle Kritzer says:
My Father’s Final Journey
During our childhood, my sisters and I grew up as gypsies, moving every few years as my father’s hard work and ambition were recognized and rewarded by numerous promotions and transfers to diverse General Electric Company’s divisions throughout the United States. He started out as Corporate Counsel for General Electric with his first assignment in Connecticut then was transferred to Washington State, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, and Indiana. Finally, in 1976, my father was assigned to return to the New York and Connecticut area, having worked his way up to a prominent position within General Electric. In 1981, he retired from General Electric and pursued an incredibly satisfying second career in academia and scholarship at Pace University Law School. From his position at Pace, he was able to make profound contributions to further international peace and scholarship in the area of International Contract Law.
The constants in my childhood were family, education, religion, and culture. After a childhood spent in flux, constantly being called upon to develop new friends and new communities, I finally found my roots in New York when I was accepted as an undergraduate to Cornell University College of Arts & Sciences in Ithaca. My father was an alumnus of the Cornell University Law School. My father and I shared a deep love of the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York. It was a magical and transformative part of both of our life stories; Cornell served to launch both of us on the path towards our future passions of work, service, and family.
As I witness the multiple memorial services and testimonials to my father, the complete story of his legacy continues to unfold. As in Homer’s classics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, I believe that a life well-lived does involve a mythical journey which is filled with challenges which serve to purify both character and soul. When I was at Cornell, I had a framed poem on my dorm wall entitled "Ithaca" by Constantine Cavafy. These are the words:
"When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
Pray that the road is long.
"Pray that the road is long,
"Always keep Ithaca on your mind!"
The wisdom you attain with each step reveals the destination's true meaning. And it is just as true to say that the destination's gift is contained in the journey itself:
"Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage!!!"
From time to time, Ithaca calls to me and I find myself on a pilgrimage to upstate New York. In my future visits there, I am sure that I will encounter my father’s spirit wandering among the young scholars on the streets of Collegetown. My father has successfully completed his long international journey and his soul has been deemed ready to return to his Maker. As the reality of my father’s passing sinks in and as I progress through my stages of grief, I am able to see that my father Professor Al Kritzer did truly enjoy a beautiful voyage and that his spirit has triumphantly returned to Ithaca where his soul will find eternal contentment.
Posted on Father's Day: Rabbi Cosgrove's Eulogy for My Father, Professor Albert Kritzer
Delivered by: Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove of Park Avenue Synagogue, 50 East 87th Street, New York, NY
In the biblical tradition, certain figures stand a little bit bolder in our imagination, their stories more present in our lives as role models today and mirrors to our own existence – our challenges and our noble pursuits. Of all the Matriarchs and Patriarchs of the tradition, from Abraham and Sarah, to Moses, to Ruth and King David, perhaps more than any, set to great literature, Broadway musicals, art and otherwise is the figure of Joseph. Joseph, who began his life the grandchild of modest immigrants whose own father worked hard to arrive at his own success. It was Joseph, who came from a strong sense of Jewish identity and went on to share that identity with a broader community, Joseph, who had the right set of smarts, gumption or chutzpah to position himself at critical junctures for a life of achievement. He was able to take his knowledge and network and contribute to a much larger commercial and economic concerns. Joseph was a man who knew of great loss and darkness in his own life time, but had the wisdom and fortitude of spirit to emerge from the pit not with despair but by reinventing himself, living to see another day, to see light throughout.
As I had the honor of sitting with the family, to hear of the life and legacy of Albert Kritzer, it was this image of Joseph, of our Jewish hero, who rose up at every turn through his hard work and creativity to impact a global community – that came to mind. Albert Kritzer, a gifted mind, and driven spirit and a giving heart, throughout his life, at every pivot was able move forward with integrity, with creativity with love for family, with love for humanity, impacting a tremendous circle of family, friends and community.
Albert was born to Abe and Augusta in Brooklyn in 1928. The third of four children – he grew up surrounded by a loving family and siblings and cousins, a loving godmother. The child of immigrants who had established some success, he grew up in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Oceanside. And no matter where he was – and this would be a theme throughout Albert’s life, the combination of his natural gifts and personal ambition would enable him to press forward. There is a story of how as a young man he set to read every book in the town library – going through the authors alphabetically – arriving at “S”. His academic achievements were well evident when he graduated at 16 – going onto William and Mary, and then to Cornell Law, always graduating with highest honors. In each of these moments – even as his abilities were well acknowledged, his synthetic mind and giving spirit taught him that knowledge was to be shared, his class notes were written onto carbon copy, distributed to his classmates as a study aid, both enabling him to organize his thoughts and his colleagues to succeed. Following WWII went to Europe to spend a semester , like his biblical predecessor, he knew how to seize on an opportunity, gaining audience with people in high places, establishing networks of connections through his charm and chutzpah. It wasn’t all easy, Albert had to work hard to get through school, he paid his own way, everything from bussing tables, poker games, donating his own blood – all to make ends meet – but he found a way, the first part of his life, learning the skills that he would put to use. Throughout his life, Albert valued hard work, lived frugally, never in it for riches.
Albert served his county with distinction in Korean War coming back to join a Law firm. It would be during these years that he would meet his beloved life partner Jacqueline. She was a guide at the United Nations, cultured and versed in multiple languages. In his courting days, Albert would recite lines of poetry, knowing how to catch the heart of his affection. With Jacqueline, he recited Donne’s “Come live with me, and be my love, and we will some new pleasures prove.” And sure enough – she went on to finish the poem line for line with him and the rest as they say was history. The two of them would together raise their four children in this house of culture, of multiple languages and cultures, of Maman and Daddy, Grandmaman and Zaide, passionate partners in life.
Albert’s professional work took the family from place to place, wanderers in the biblical tradition – the family would joke that some people go on vacation, the Kritzers just move. But in all this activity, certain things were constant, such as, a love of education, a love of books to be read to the daughters, and a premium placed on family time, with each child feeling a special relationship with their father. Albert knew of the Jewish tradition that the Sabbath was to be a taste of the world to come and every Saturday was a day devoted to spending sacred time with family. Each of you went on to get graduate degrees, all reflections of your father’s love of learning. And to the grandchildren, his love was endless, each of you will, in the years ahead, have the gift of memory of a loving zaide, and more importantly will be able to use his model “do what Zaide did’ as the bar for your own achievements, your own integrity.
But it was Albert’s model; it was through his deeds not just his words. When his brother Walter passed away, he took on a fatherly role beyond his own brood to his brother’s children. Perhaps most painfully, when his daughter Annette would die tragically in a car accident in 1986, Albert would have to face a terrible crossroads. And while no parent should ever know the horror of burying his own child, out of the darkness, he was able to reinvent himself in a purposeful way. His highest ideal was to be a scholar and he went from the business world to scholarship, leveraging his experience in the private sector towards establishing a hub of International Commercial Law. And while others in the days ahead will be better able to speak to his professional impact, it is my understanding that he was not just a fine scholar, but that he was a creator of a discipline, a builder of a department and a leader in his field. His greatest love was his students, the hundreds if not thousands of minds he shaped in decades of scholarship.
There are so many elements to the life of Albert Kritzer, so many points of view by which his achievements can be appreciated. He more than lived up to the calling of Micah, when asked “what does the lord require of you – to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before your god”. Albert more than lived according to his own bar of living each day creatively, sleeping well, and knowing of the good that has been done that day. His life was very much divided into idealized stages of the first third learning, the second third earning and the third giving back.
Indeed at this moment, mournful as we are, we are also grateful of the gift of Albert’s life. With Albert’s sudden passing, I was reminded that he shares the distinction with his biblical predecessor, Joseph, of having died in the land of Egypt, his death eventually leading to burial amongst his people. As death was nearing, as he realized his passing would take place in a foreign land, he instructed his children that his remains not remain there – v’ehelitem et atzmotai mizeh, you shall bring me up from here. And this is what his children did, and this is what Albert’s family did. But the message of course is more profound. It was not so much Joseph’s physical remains that were his concern, but his spiritual and personal legacy that should not be left untended, that should be brought up that should continue to lift up the life and hearts of his descendents. And so too with Professor Albert Kritzer for today we fulfill the commandment of giving him proper burial but in the days, week, months and years ahead – we have a much bigger commandment to fulfill: the commandment to let his memory bring us up from this dark place. Just as he did in his lifetime, we must see the light from the darkness, remember our god given gift of daily creativity and build a life worthy of the highest ideals of Albert Kritzer. For in doing so, we shall make his memory a blessing.
Obituary for Professor Albert H. Kritzer, As Featured in the Westchester County Gannett Newspaper "The Journal News" on Saturday June 19, 2010
KRITZER, PROFESSOR ALBERT H. 2010-06-19
1928 - 2010 Albert H. Kritzer, Executive Secretary of the Institute of International Commercial Law and adjunct professor at Pace Law School, White Plains, NY, and a 34-year resident of Darien, CT, passed away unexpectedly on June 1, 2010 in Egypt, where he was traveling to receive a 2010 Career Achievement Award at the 4th Arab Conference for Commercial and Maritime Law. A funeral led by Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove was held at Riverside Memorial Chapel, NYC on June 4, followed by interment at Mount Lebanon Cemetery, Glendale, NY. An informal gathering to celebrate the life and work of Albert Kritzer was held at the Institute of International Commercial Law on June 5. Additional memorial services are being planned by Pace, with more information to be provided at the Pace website. Born April 21, 1928 in Brooklyn, NY, Albert Kritzer was the son of immigrants Abraham and Augusta Kritzer. He married Jacqueline Landry Hubert in 1957, and together they raised four daughters. He is survived by two sisters: Marilyn Shorenstein of Boca Raton, FL and Ruth Rhetts (Mrs. George) of Naples, FL, three daughters: Germaine Koomen (Mrs. William) of Newburyport, MA, Lise Marie Gander (Mrs. Stuart) of Milton, VT, and Rachelle Kritzer Filipek (Mrs. Stephan) of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, seven grandchildren: Emily and Elise Koomen, Everett and Celeste Gander, Claire, Matthew and Brian Filipek, and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by spouse of 46 years Jacqueline Kritzer, daughter Annette Kritzer in whose memory he dedicated his scholarly work, brother Walter Kritzer, brotherin-law Joel Shorenstein, and sister-in-law Sylvia Kritzer Baumwald. After graduating from the College of William and Mary in 1948 with a BA in Economics, Kritzer earned a JD with distinction (Phi Kappa Phi, Order of the Coif) at Cornell Law School in 1951. He was admitted to the New York Bar (1952) and Bar of the US Supreme Court (1955) and began his legal practice as a Judge Advocate, serving the US Air Force in Japan after the Korean War. He practiced law with Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine in NYC then, in a span stretching 25 years, he was counsel to General Electric, including several positions in Major Appliances and International Sales Operations. In 1991 Kritzer joined Pace Law School, founding the Pace Institute of International Commercial Law. Internationally recognized as an authority on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) and a leading figure in the harmonization of global commercial law, Albert Kritzer earned accolades such as, "You have done more for the success of the Convention, and more to create the infrastructure for a revolution in commercial legal practice, than anyone in the world" (words by law professor, author and CISG expert, Harry Flechtner). Kritzer wrote the multi-volume International Contract Manual, first published in the early 1990s. He developed a unique online database of interpretations of the CISG of over 2500 international contract court decisions and arbitration rulings representing 74 countries and taught courses on the CISG. He was devoted to helping students and engaging them in international contract law. In 1993, he co-founded two prestigious annual student competitions held in Vienna to train future leaders in dispute resolution: the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot and the Clive M. Schmitthoff Student Essay Competition. Kritzer received the 1998 Award for Distinction in International Affairs from the New York Bar Association, and the International Association of Law Libraries recognized the CISG website with its first annual award for non-commercial pursuits in 2002. In 2008, the Festschrift "Sharing International Commercial Law across National Boundaries" was published in honor of Albert Kritzer on the occasion of his eightieth birthday. A generous, warm-hearted, energetic, inspiring, much-beloved visionary scholar devoted to facilitating increased understanding, peace, and justice, Albert Kritzer created communities wherever he went and left a legacy of many projects in progress. He will be sadly missed by family members and an international network of students, colleagues and friends. Letters of condolence have poured in from all corners. To quote one of them: "The law community lost a great master, and the world lost a great human." Memorial contributions in his honor may be made to the following: Annette Kritzer Scholarship Fund, c/o St. John's Roman Catholic Church, St John's Outreach Scholarship Fund for Annette Kritzer, 1986 Post Road, Darien, Connecticut 06820 (Please make check out to the Church); or Pace Law School Institute of International Commercial Law (L6747), c/o Pace University, Office of Philanthropy, One Pace Plaza New York, New York 10038 (Please make check out to Pace University)