2nd Elul 2021 10 August
Ruth Bader Ginsburg sworn in United States Supreme Court
On this day in 1993 RBG was sworn in as the second woman – and the first Jewish woman – to serve on the US Supreme Court.
At the time she said “I am a judge born, raised, and proud of being a Jew. The demand for justice runs through the entirety of the Jewish tradition. I hope, in my years on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, I will have the strength and the courage to remain constant in the service of that demand.”
Throughout her life and career, Justice Ginsburg fought against oppression and inequality. She is credited with transforming opportunities and livelihoods previously dictated by gender inequalities. She was influential on Civil Rights Law, and dismantled a network of laws which supported sex discrimination. Perhaps surprisingly, many of her landmark legal successes came while she was representing men. Ultimately, Justice Ginsberg was clear: gender inequality is harmful to everyone.
She also said “Promoting active liberty does not mean allowing the majority to run roughshod over minorities. It calls for taking special care that all groups have a chance to fully participate in society and the political process.”
We can’t be RBG, but she was carrying on a legacy of justice that is our inheritance and obligation too. We may not be able to change or to create legislation, but in our own ways and our own worlds we can have the strength and courage to serve that command.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, asked to give advice to young people about how to fulfil that obligation said “Let them be sure that every deed counts, that every word has power, and that we can do our share to redeem the world despite all absurdities and all the frustration and all the disappointment.”
We can each do our share. Indeed, it is all that we can do. The only question is how we plan to do it.