By: Naomi Ohana (11th Grade) and Daniel Ohana (12th Grade)
After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this past Friday. After being appointed in 1993 by Bill Clinton, Ginsburg spent the last twenty-seven years of her life in service to the American people. Ginsburg, famously known as “RBG,” was the second female Supreme Court Justice in United States history. Her time on the court was marked by triumphs in the battle for creating a society that advocates and defends gender equality rights.
RBG’s strong impression on all of society hits even closer to home for Hebrew Academy students who grew up with her as not just a female role model, but also a Jewish one.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a huge role model of mine just because she really showed me all the possibilities that a female, especially a Jewish female, has and all the influence she can have on our country,” said Hadassah Reich (11th Grade).
Ginsburg worked to uphold laws that protected women rights. These include the ability for women to not be turned away from a job on the basis of gender, as well as the right for women to sign on to a mortgage without a man being present. She even furthered equal gender rights by securing the right for men to receive widowers Social Security benefits.
Many teachers were also touched by the work she completed during her life.
“[Ginsburg is] known as a progressive liberal judge, but what she's really admired for is, no matter what your politics are, is her advancement in American history in terms of gender equality and the legal system,” said history teacher Dr. Prechter. “She will be remembered throughout history, especially in the legal history, in cementing the philosophies that she believed in.”
RBG’s Jewish identity not stopping her from achieving such an honor also gives students encouragement for what they can achieve.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed all of the Jews in America and all over the world that you don’t have to disconnect from your Jewish heritage in order to achieve a high societal status,” said Yehuda Cohen (12th). “She set an example to the Jews in America for what kind of change and what kind of impact they can have on American society as Jews.”
Even people who did not necessarily agree with RBG’s policies can respect her story and how she paved the way for women and Jews.
“I don’t agree with everything that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has supported, but I do think her story was so important for girls and more so Jewish girls,” said Alexa Szafranski (12th). “I watched a movie made about her awhile back, and the way she pushed through gender boundaries is so inspirational, even though I don’t agree with all she has supported.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Jewish faith separated her from her fellow Justices and caused her to be an outsider. Because of this, Ginsburg was dedicated to fighting for the equality and inclusion of all minority groups, such as immigrants, disabled people, and fellow Jews. She spent her time chipping away at discriminatory laws that marginalized these minorities. She also contributed to creating an inclusive environment for Jewish people who work within the United States legal system. Along with other Jewish justices, RBG successfully convinced the Supreme Court not to hold public sessions on Yom Kippur. Recognized for her groundbreaking legal work in the field of civil liberties and women’s rights, RBG was granted the Genesis Prize, which recognizes Jewish achievements and contributions to humanity.
While the pain of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing is still fresh, the long term impact of her time on the Supreme Court is immeasurable. Her contributions to the world of gender equality and civil rights have progressed this country and the world greatly. May her memory be for a blessing.
“RBG’s death was truly tragic. She will be remembered as a revolutionary and a champion of equality,” said Alina Sterenfeld (12th). “While RBG has passed, her legacy and policies will continue to live on.”