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What Can We Learn From RGB?

Dear Tanenbaum Community,

A Jewish teaching says those who die just before the Jewish new year are the ones God has held back until the last moment because they were needed most, and were the most righteous. And so it was that Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, died as the sun was settling on Friday, marking the beginning of Rosh Hashanah.

Throughout her life, Justice Ginsberg has often reflected on what it was like growing up in Brooklyn, in the shadow of WWII and the Holocaust, and the large imprint this left on her. She said in one interview, “It makes you more empathetic to people who are not insiders, who are outsiders.” At Tanenbaum, we similarly work to promote justice and build respect for people across faith traditions, especially those considered “outsiders.”

While anti-Semitism was widely accepted in 1933 when Justice Ginsberg was born, throughout her career she worked tirelessly to make the court more hospitable to Jews and other minorities. She convinced the court that explicitly framing the calendar year as Christian was offensive to Jews, and worked to excise it. She was also a powerful voice on the court helping women ensure their right to sign a mortgage without a man; have a bank account without a male co-signer; have a job without being discriminated based on gender; and retain job security regardless of familial or pregnancy status.

There is no doubt that Justice Ginsburg’s work has cracked open many doorways that have more widely been pushed open by and for others. May the world remember her as the fierce advocate for justice that she was, and may her life and lessons be for a blessing.

With reverence,

Rev. Mark Fowler