JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International's statement on the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in its coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice's death.
(September 21, 2020 / JNS) Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, died on Sept. 18 at the age of 87 at her home in Washington, D.C.
Ginsburg, a heralded liberal judicial, feminist and Jewish icon who was the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, died from “complications of metastatic pancreas cancer,” according to a statementfrom the Supreme Court shortly after her death.
Her passing came on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year 5781, and just six weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
Before her death, Ginsburg was hospitalized numerous times this year, including twice in July. She announced on July 17 that cancer had returned, though had often said that she would remain on the court as long as she was able to do the work.
Joan Ruth Bader was born on March 15, 1933, to Nathan and Celia Bader in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her older sister, Marylin, died of meningitis at age 6, when Ruth was a baby. Ruth’s mother died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school, though having been a significant factor in her education.
She earned her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University on June 23, 1954; a month later, she married Martin D. Ginsburg. One year later, they had a daughter, Jane, before Ruth started law school at Harvard University.
Ginsburg was a standout and one of the few women at Harvard Law School. She later transferred to Columbia Law School, where she jointly graduated first in her class in 1959. However, she had difficulty getting hired directly into a law firm and turned to academia, teaching at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School.
The couple had a son, James, in 1965.
In 1970, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the United States to focus exclusively on women’s rights. Two years later, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and in 1973, she became general counsel of the project.
After working with the American Civil Liberties Union as a volunteer attorney and as a member of its board of directors and a general counsel in the 1970s, in 1980, Ginsburg was nominated by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is regarded as the second-most powerful court in the United States behind the Supreme Court.
In 1993, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed to the Supreme Court, where she served until her death.
Ginsburg spent much of her career fighting for gender equality and women’s rights, winning many arguments before the Supreme Court. During her 40-plus years as a judge and a justice, she was served by 159 law clerks.
A 2018 documentary titled “RBG” became a hit with audiences, as did a feature film that followed, “On the Basis of Sex.”
Attorney Norm Eisen, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, told JNS that Ginsburg was a Jewish icon who personified Jewish values—an ideal Americans should look for in her successor.
“Justice Ginsburg exemplified a core Jewish principle: tzedek tzedek tirdof, justice, justice shall you pursue,” he said. “She understood it was not just a Jewish virtue but an American one.”
“That commitment to justice is, of course, what American Jews and all Americans are looking for in the next justice—much more than ethnicity or religion,” he continued. “That starts with a just manner of choosing that individual. For that reason, Justice Ginsberg’s last wish to let the new president make that choice should be honored.”
Chief Justice John Roberts said: “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her—a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
U.S. President Donald Trump said shortly after Ginsburg’s death that he plans to fill the vacancy this week, putting forth a woman candidate. Trump has already seated two other Supreme Court justices: Neal Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
Attorney Nathan Lewin, who has argued in front of the Supreme Court, told JNS that Ginsburg “was a dynamic force in eliminating gender discrimination and will have a well-deserved place of honor in American legal history.”
Regarding what’s at stake for the Jewish community over the vacancy, “if you are speaking of the observant Jewish community and protection for religious rights, the future of that community and those rights is now bright,” said Lewin, citing that Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh “are strong defenders of religious liberty.”
‘A champion for civil rights’
Jewish groups expressed condolences over Ginsburg’s death.
The Anti-Defamation League tweeted on Sunday that it “mourns the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer and judicial giant. She dedicated her life to advocating for a more equitable and just world, and was a true champion for civil rights. May her memory be a blessing.”
In a statement on Sunday, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said Ginsburg “rose from the humble beginnings of an immigrant Jewish family to become a Supreme Court Justice,” and that as “a lawyer and advocate she fought to change laws and policies that advanced reproductive rights and equality for all.”
“The best way to honor Justice Ginsburg’s life is to continue to fight for equality and to deter the rollback of women’s reproductive rights,” said JCPA president and CEO David Bernstein in the statement. “Her work and legacy live on in our work.”
In a statement the day after Ginsburg’s death, leaders from the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis and Women of Reform Judaism said, “Few people have had as long or as profound an impact upon the course of a nation as did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As an attorney, Justice Ginsburg committed herself to advancing women’s rights at a time when women were denied equal access to educational, employment, economic and other opportunities. Such injustice offended Justice Ginsburg as a woman, but also as a Jew.”
“Indeed, she spoke often of the many ways in which her Jewish upbringing and faith shaped her sense of justice, including the discrimination against Jews that was part of life even in her native New York City during her formative years,” continued the leaders.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement on Sunday, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was in her own words ‘a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew.’ ”
“Justice Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the high court, sought to apply the values of her faith in seeking equal justice under law and had a lifelong love for Israel,” continued the Jewish umbrella organization. “She is recognized as among the great jurists in modern history. She never ceased to advocate for gender equality while leading the way for women in the legal profession.”
B’nai B’rith said that Ginsburg “was a giant of the Supreme Court, a champion to many women and others as a strong, progressive voice on the court, with a trailblazing judicial presence. She was courageous in her many battles against cancer.”
Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director Halie Soifer said in a statementon Sunday that “Jewish Democrats mourn the enormous loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most influential and powerful Jewish women to serve our nation. Justice Ginsberg embodied Jewish values including a commitment to tikkun olam, and our tradition’s commandment of ‘justice, justice, you shall pursue,’ which hung in her chambers in Hebrew.”
Soifer went on to say that “Ginsburg’s life was dedicated to ensuring equal protection under the law for all Americans, and we are incredibly grateful for her service.”
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg combined stunning moral clarity with acute legal acumen,” said Democratic Majority for Israel in a statement on Sunday. “All Americans owe her a profound debt of gratitude for her moral leadership, for the example she set as the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court, and for her fierce advocacy of gender equality and justice for all.”
“An iconic trailblazer, Justice Ginsburg worked tirelessly and successfully to make our country more just,” continued DMFI. “A strong supporter of Israel and a lifelong Zionist, she spoke of her inspiration from heroes like Emma Lazarus and Henrietta Szold.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted on Friday, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer and a great patriot. We, along with all Americans, mourn her passing. May her memory be a blessing.”
In addition to her two children, Ginsburg is survived by four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was predeceased by her husband, who died in 2010.
The Algemeiner also quoted our reaction to the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International in its coverage of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations commending Saudi Arabia's decision to permanently open its airspace to flights between Israel and the UAE.
Major Jewish and pro-Israel groups welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision on Wednesday to open its airspace to flights between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates.
“A major breakthrough for regional prosperity and progress,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted.
“Opening the skies allows for more business and people-to-people engagement between Israel and the UAE,” it added. “Peace & reconciliation are possible when America’s support for Israel is rock-solid and the Jewish state is strong.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the Saudi move “a most welcome gesture reflective of the changing dynamic in the Middle East.”
“We applaud the Saudis for taking this meaningful step, and hope that mutually beneficial cooperation will follow,” it stated. “We also look to others in the region to join in embracing peace at this critical time.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted, “Incredible news: Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow all flights between Israel and the UAE to fly through its airspace.”
“We welcome this historic milestone on the path toward broader Arab-Israeli reconciliation, cooperation, and peace,” the AJC said.
B’nai B’rith International tweeted, “Welcome news: Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow flights from “all countries” – aka Israel – to fly through its airspace to and from the UAE.”
“This is an important breakthrough and yet another step toward peace and reconciliation in the region,” it noted.
Justice Still Being Sought for Victims of Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center Bombing, 26 Years Later
The Algemeiner covered our virtual discussion and cited our call for justice in its coverage of the 26th anniversary of the AMIA terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires.
Saturday will mark the 26th anniversary of the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were murdered.
The July 18, 1994 attack at the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) building was perpetrated by Hezbollah on behalf of its backer, Iran.
Major Jewish groups around the world are commemorating the atrocity with social media posts.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) tweeted, “On July 18, 1994, a terrorist attack struck the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 85 people. Julio Menajovsky was one of the first photojournalists on the scene. More than two decades later, he reunited with survivors and relatives of the victims.”
B’nai B’rith International tweeted, “Twenty-six years after the #AMIA terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires, there’s still no justice for the victims & their families.”
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) tweeted, “We mourn with the families of the vicitms of the #AMIA bombing in 1994 & join them in their mission to seek justice.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted, “26 years later, we remember.”
The AJC also hosted an online program on Thursday featuring a conversation with the current president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, who said his government was committed to bringing those responsible for the bombing to justice.
“The truth is that for Argentines, the AMIA attack is very painful,” Fernández said. “This was not an attack against the Jewish community only, it was an attack against Argentina. The victims, many of them, were members of the Jewish community. But they were Argentines first and foremost and it hurts us as such.”
However, it must be noted that Alberto Fernández’s current vice president is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former Argentine president suspected of illegally conspiring with Iran to cover up its role in the attack.
This matter was investigated by the late Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment in January 2015, shortly before he was supposed to appear at a congressional hearing to lay out his allegations against Kirchner.
Nisman’s death was originally depicted by Argentine authorities as a suicide, but it was later determined he had been murdered — a crime for which no one has yet been arrested. Some have accused Kirchner of being behind Nisman’s killing.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai Birith International said it would be a “mistake” to close out the debate on an issue where “every [congressman] should be heard,” especially as the White House failed to whip up support among some of the most powerful Democrats in Congress.
While both groups acknowledged that the president has enough support to keep Congress from killing the deal...they called for legislation demanding accountability while registering the wide opposition to the deal.
Mariaschin called it “just the beginning of the process on the Iranian issue,” encouraging bipartisan measures to “ensure greater accountability.”
Jewish groups, pro-Israel lobbies and, of course, Israel, among others are concerned the nuclear deal will empower Iran to work toward carrying out its stated goals of occupying Jerusalem and destroying the Jewish state; just Wednesday morning Khamenei predicted the “Zionist regime” would no longer exist in 25 years, which also happens to be when the final provisions of the nuclear deal expire.
“One has to be extremely skeptical going forward. [The Iranians] say they got the better end of this deal,” said Mariaschin, noting Iranian claims to victory over the international sanctions regime that will disintegrate with the deal’s implementation.
On Feb. 5, 2015, B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin was named to The Algemeiner Jewish 100 List for 2014.
B'nai B'rith United Kingdom President Eve Swabe congratulated Mariaschin in a statement posted on the B'nai B'rith UK website, and through personal correspondence.
Read a recap of their correspondence, posted below:
B'nai B'rith International is thrilled to announce that Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin's inclusion in The Algemeiner Jewish 100 List for 2014.
This is the second year for the list, which is dedicated to "organizations or individuals who have positively influenced Jewish life this past year...These 100 people who have the most positive impact on Jewish life and Israel, men and women, Jew or non-Jew, who have lifted the quality of Jewish life in the past year. Without these 100 individuals or the organizations they represent – Jewish life would not be at the caliber it is today."
The following is Mariaschin's profile, listed in the Community section, with description in its entirety:
Daniel S. Mariaschin has spent nearly all of his professional life working tirelessly on behalf of the Jewish community. Currently, as the top executive officer of B’nai B’rith International, he directs the agency’s work in more than 50 countries.
He also serves as director of B’nai B’rith’s Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, representing the organization to audiences that include Congress and the media.
Mariaschin has met with countless heads of state, prime ministers, foreign ministers, opposition leaders, influential journalists, and clerical leaders.
Each time, his goal has been to advance human rights, help protect the rights of Jewish communities worldwide, and promote better relations with the State of Israel.
B'nai B'rith International contacted The Heinz Endowments, expressing dismay and deep concern over a grant previously given to Pittsburgh eatery Conflict Kitchen, which has served anti-Israel propaganda to diners as part of it's "Palestine" campaign.
The Heinz Foundation responded, denouncing the kitchen's current campaign and clarifying the timing of its one-time $50,000 grant (given in 2013).
The release was covered in articles run on The Algemeiner and the Jewish News Service. Read highlights from those reports, below:
B'nai B'rith International spoke unequivocally against those that shouted down Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) while he expressed pro-Israel sentiments at an "In Defense of Christians" (I.D.C.) dinner.
The fallout from the speech was covered in an article on Algemeiner, which referenced B'nai B'rith's statement.
Read highlights from the article, below:
Major American Jewish groups rushed to defend Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday after he was booed off stage at a gala dinner on Wednesday night for voicing solidarity with Israel and Jews.
Leaders also criticized attendees at the event, a Washington, D.C. fundraiser for a suspected Iran aligned group called In Defense of Christians, for heckling Cruz, a darling of the evangelical Christian community.
Speaking on stage, Cruz said Israel and the Jewish people face the same threat from radical Islam as Christians in the Middle East, adding that Christians “have no greater ally than Israel.”
Audience members then booed and shouted protests, leading the senator to walk off stage and leave the event.
“Those who hate Israel hate America, and those who hate Jews hate Christians, and if this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps that the men and women here will not stand in solidarity with Jews and Christians alike who are persecuted by radicals who seek to murder them,” he said. “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you.”
B’nai B’rith International expressed similar sentiments, saying it was troubled that the gathering was “overshadowed by a display of animosity toward Israel.”
“Just as the entire international community must rally to protect the fundamental rights and dignity of Christians in places like Iraq and Syria, Christian leaders and faithful, along with others, are morally obliged do the same for Jews in the Middle East.
"There can be no condoning or belittling the Islamist extremists doctrinally committed to the violent destruction of the Middle East’s democratic Jewish state,” B’nai B’rith said. “If efforts for peace, and to protect Middle Eastern Christians, are to succeed, there must be recognition that ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ applies to the people of Israel as much as to any other human beings.”
The position for United States ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom is likely to be filled by Rabbi David Saperstein, in a move that was praised by B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
Saperstein, one of the most influential rabbis in the United States, currently serves as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. If he is approved, he will fill a position that has sat vacant for almost a year.
Jewish and Israel news, JNS.org, wrote an article on the nomination, including extensive quotes from Mariaschin.
Read an excerpt of the article below:
Daniel Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, called the nomination an “outstanding choice” and noted the decades during which he has witnessed Saperstein’s work on religious freedom.
“I think David got nominated to this position because of his experience, his expertise, his caring, his sensitivity to these issues, and his being able to speak out,” Mariaschin said. “The commendatory part of this here is that someone who was so deserving and who can do so much good, has been nominated for the position.
"David is very well connected internationally and his reputation, his writings, his speaking—all of those things are known in so much of the world in which we operate and we’re going to operate, so I think that’s a big plus.”
B’nai B’rith’s Mariaschin said a new religious freedom ambassador “is going to be welcomed in a lot of places, and in those places where religious freedom is being abridged, they should know that they’re going to have in our [ambassador] someone who is keeping a very close eye on what they’re doing.” In particular, Mariaschin noted the proliferation of violence against Christians at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria terrorist group, as well as religious persecution in Africa, South Asia, and Iran.
“There are many [instances of religious persecution], it’s almost as if you don’t know where to start, and unfortunately the list is long and it is growing longer,” he said.
In the News
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