Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

Bring Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Your Seder

Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can now add Torah scholar to her resume (after fashion icon and weight-lifter). On Wednesday, the 82-year-old released a feminist reading of the Exodus story to be read at the Seder. The essay, created with Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt of D.C.’s Adas Israel congregation, focuses on the women who were instrumental to the Passover narrative: Moses’ mother Yocheved, midwives Shifra and Puah, Pharoah’s daughter Batya and Moses’ sister Miriam. “Since Jews are commanded to to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible — which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative,” writes Ginsburg and Holtzblatt. “These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day. Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched.”

The reading, published through the American Jewish World Service, is a call to action and part of a series from the humanitarian organization that “draws on teachings from the holidays to inform our thinking about Judaism and social justice.”

Although she served as camp rabbi at Camp Che-Ne-Wa in Minerva, New York, when she was 15, Ginsburg is not an observant Jew. In a speech at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in 2008, she attributed this to being prohibited from being part of the mourner’s minyan (because she was a woman) upon her mother’s death when Ginsburg was 17. But Ginsburg has always cited her Jewish identity as a key component her value system, famously saying, “I am a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew. The demand for justice runs through the entirety of Jewish history and Jewish tradition.”


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.