Scribe | Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed us young Jews how to be unapologetically Jewish.

I’ve always known about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. How could I not, a woman so like myself? Jewish, deeply interested in education and culture, and a woman with an incredibly Jewish name to boot.

My grandmother knew “RBG” and her husband. My grandmother even knew her heavily-guarded nickname — “Kiki.” I knew that her name was Kiki before I knew her name was Ruth! My great-grandfather’s now famous words still ring in my head: “She’ll be the first female supreme court justice.”

She wasn’t, but she was the first Jewish female supreme court justice. Still breaking down barriers.

Scribe | Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed us young Jews how to be unapologetically Jewish.

There are few celebrities or notable people in the world in whose spirit I can see myself or family members. Ginsburg was one. She reminded me so much of the Jewish bubbes that I see in my Los Angeles neighborhood. The short stature, the opinions that bite, and a sort of love that you have for them. She loved opera and time with Justice Scalia. She was 5’1, two inches taller than my grandmother was when she died.

She was the people’s bubbe, even if they didn’t know that. She was the bubbe that fought for equality for her kindalah. She was the only justice who had the mezuzah on her door and an artist’s tzedek, tzedek, tirdof poster at the entrance of her chambers: Justice, Justice, shall you pursue.

The symbolism in those two items being in her chambers cannot be understated: A mezuzah in the doorway is one of the hallmarks of Judaism, and tzedek, tzedek, tirdof has become a rallying cry for Jews around the world pushing back against injustice. Ginsburg was a Jewish woman in a high-up position in America. She was doing something that would have been unthinkable during her childhood. She was in a majority male environment, seeking change.

As a Jewish female “Zillenial” (being born in 2000, I am firmly on the cusp of the two generations) who is halfway through college, Ginsburg’s impact stays with me each day.

If Ruth Bader Ginsburg can be unapologetically Jewish, shouldn’t I fall in step with her? Shouldn’t I wear my shema necklace unapologetically?

I did a paper in my first semester of my freshman year of college about political Jewish women during the turn of the century in America. There were more than I thought, but still not enough. It is because of them that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was able to break down barriers in one of the highest offices that our country has to offer. It is because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg that I and so many of my Jewish female peers can work hard and create change whether that be through phone banking or in a large office in D.C.

We’ve had easier times to be Jewish in America and we’ve had far worse, but it cannot be ignored that the loss of a Jewish titan is enormous. However, I have faith after seeing how Mourner’s Kaddish was said at the Supreme Court and the shofar was blown as well.

There were people on Twitter learning what it means to say “zichrona l’vracha.” RBG is educating people even in her death.

We have lost one of the largest defenders and loudest voices for American Jews, but the “Notorious RBG” leaves behind a legacy that sparkles and comforts.

In your mourning of her, please, do not forget her Judaism.

Scribe | Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed us young Jews how to be unapologetically Jewish.

In our beautiful Jewish tradition, one who dies on Shabbat or Rosh Hashanah is a true tzaddik, a true righteous one. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, defender of the constitution and the American people, died on Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, and the beginning of a new month, Rosh Chodesh.

We should not forget how important Ginsburg’s unapologetic Jewishness was. I certainly will not.

Rachel Bernstein’s work has been featured on HeyAlma, Annenberg Media, and Los Angeles Times’ High School Insider.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Scribe | Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed us young Jews how to be unapologetically Jewish.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Scribe | Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed us young Jews how to be unapologetically Jewish.

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close
Close