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From camp ‘rabbi’ to pursuing justice: How Judaism animated Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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22.09.2020

(JTA) — In its obituary of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Guardian wrote that the late Jewish Supreme Court justice “abandoned her religion.”

That couldn’t be more wrong.

While Ginsburg, who died Friday at age 87 after 27 years on the high court’s bench, was not known for her ritual observance, she spoke frequently about how Jewish values inspired her, and she was active in Jewish causes and with Jewish organizations.

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As Ginsburg would note in speeches, she was the only justice with a mezuzah affixed to her office door. A poster on the wall read “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof,” the Hebrew injunction from the Torah meaning “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” She also once wore that line woven into one of her jabots, or collars worn on her Supreme Court robes. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses for the official photo at the Supreme Court in Washington on November 30, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

“I am a judge born, raised, and proud of being a Jew,” she wrote in an essay for the American Jewish Committee in 1996. “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 courage to remain constant in the service of that demand.”

She would sometimes say, “What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York’s garment district and a Supreme Court justice? Just one generation.”

Here’s a timeline of the most Jewish moments and motifs in the life of RBG, from her childhood to recent years.

As a teenager, she acted as her camp’s “junior rabbi” and wrote an essay about the importance of remembering the Holocaust.

Ginsburg, born in Brooklyn in 1933 and raised in the Jewish neighborhood of Midwood, grew up in an observant home and attended the East Midwood Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue. In the summers she would attend Camp Che-Ne-Wah in the Adirondacks, where she was unofficially called her camp’s “junior rabbi” and would lead Shabbat prayers.

Barely a........

© The Times of Israel


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