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 popular Spanish-language television show Camara Testigo on Teledoce ran a special on the anti-Semitic murder of Uruguayan-Jewish community leader David Fremd. Director of Latin America Affairs Eduardo Kohn appears throughout the program and is the only Jewish voice among those interviewed. Watch the full program below!
In a letter read to the lobby’s inaugural gathering, President Reuven Rivlin stated that while in “Spain precious communities were forced leave their faith, their life and the values they grew up and raised their families” five hundred years ago, “Spanish Jews are still with us, and we must not forget them.”
According to lobby founders MK Robert Ilatov and Ashley Perry, increasing numbers of the descendants of Jews around the world have become interested in exploring their heritage and reconnecting with the Jewish people.
“For many of us in this room who are the descendants of those persecuted and forcibly converted in Spain and Portugal, we know that it would have been impossible for our ancestors to have even dreamed of this moment,” said Perry, a former advisor to erstwhile Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and the founder of the Reconnectar NGO.
According to Spanish Ambassador Fernando Carderera, more than the requests of more than 4,300 Sephardic Jews for citizenship have been approved since the recent passage of a bill providing the descendants of the expellees with the opportunity to reconnect with Spain.
B’nai B’rith’s Alan Schneider told the Post that he believes that the new initiative sends a message to interested parties that Israel and the Jewish people reciprocate their desires and that “its going to be easier for them now to investigate their Jewish roots, to find out about Jewish tradition, learn about their traditions and how they relate to Judaism and eventually to decide if they want to take the greater leap of rejoining in a formal way with the Jewish people.”
“I think it also sends a message to the Jews in Israel and Jews around the world that there potentially is a much deeper margin of potential supporters, of family actually, there who feel close toward the Jewish people and the state of Israel and eventually can be called upon to be our supporters even if they choose to stay in their current status,” he said.
In a joint statement, B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich and B’nai B’rith International executive vice-president Dan Mariaschin said the lack of outcry against the wave of terror was disturbing.
“If a rash of terror broke out in any other democratic nation, most of the international community would be appalled,” they said.
The Arizona Jewish Post highlights the pair of B'nai B'rith low income senior housing properties in Tucson, focusing on the quality of life enjoyed by its residents, as well as its visionaries, Holocaust survivors Gerd and Inge Strauss.
B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States. Our Senior Housing Network in the U.S. consists of 42 buildings in 26 communities, encompassing more than 4,000 apartment units and serving more than 8,000 people.
Read more about these properties and their residents, below:
Many Tucsonans are surprised to learn that the Jewish community sponsors not one but two nationally recognized independent housing communities for low and very low income seniors: B’nai B’rith Covenant House of Tucson and the Gerd & Inge Strauss Manor on Pantano.
Covenant House resident Carolyne Vogel feels gratitude and relief for the Covenant House. “For years, I worked all the time and didn’t have any close neighbors,” she says. “Now I have two really good friends here. At Covenant House, it’s very relaxing. I feel safe here.” A four-year resident, she feels so secure that her basic needs are met, she’s liberated to focus on her hobbies.
Liz Kanter Groskind, president of the Strauss Manor board, echoes the sentiments of her counterparts at Covenant House. “We get handwritten thank you notes from the residents all the time,” says Groskind. “They truly appreciate all the extras. We simply believe that those who have the least should live somewhere dignified, beautiful and safe. We’re not going to let you merely subsist.”
Although both facilities house residents from diverse backgrounds, the numerous Jewish residents, including several Holocaust survivors, appreciate the Jewish touches that the boards provide, from menorot in the spacious and elegantly decorated lobbies, to Jewish library materials, to brisket and latkes during Chanukah and more.
Both properties were the vision and work of longtime Tucsonan Gerd Strauss, who died in 2009.
Holocaust survivors Gerd and Inge Strauss, childhood sweethearts from Germany, immigrated to the United States in 1947 and relocated to Tucson in 1986. Strauss brought both properties to fruition in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and B’nai B’rith International, the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States.
After building the 119-unit Covenant House in 1995, he went on to establish the 80-unit Strauss on Pantano facility that bears his name, which opened in 2006. Residents spend 30 percent of their income on rent; the rest is subsidized by HUD. Going into his 90s, Strauss was planning a third property in Sahuarita, which never materialized.
Tucson was lucky to benefit from the timing of Strauss’ vision and energy. “Section 202 program funding [HUD capital advances and operational subsidies] doesn’t exist anymore. It is difficult to recreate the types of programs our communities enjoy,” Olshan laments. B’nai B’rith continues to support the Tucson properties by providing technical and professional training to their supervisory boards and management and employment company, Biltmore Properties.
In April 2013, he was named Australia's first (and so far only) honorary citizen, after prolonged advocacy from members of the B'nai B'rith lodge. Advocacy efforts also produced several rounds of limited edition stamp sales, but the one set to be released in October is the first mass-distributed Wallenberg stamp in Australia.
Read more about his life and enduring legacy courtesy of The Australian Jewish News:
The 70c Wallenberg stamp will be available as a first-day cover and card, and will come in various groupings.
It is due to be issued on October 5. Israel, Argentina, Canada, Hungary, Sweden and the United States have already issued Wallenberg stamps.
A MASS-circulation Australian postage stamp honouring Raoul Wallenberg...is set to be issued next month, after a long personal campaign by Judi Schiff of Melbourne.
In 2010, Wallenberg appeared on a limited-edition stamp sheet issued in conjunction with Melbourne philately company Max Stern & Co, marking the 25th anniversary of B’nai B’rith’s Raoul Wallenberg Unit.
But Schiff campaigned for Wallenberg to be recognised on a standard Australian stamp, using online petitions platform Change.org, where she gathered more than 520 signatures. Her involvement with the B’nai B’rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit inspired her tireless drive for a Wallenberg stamp.
“I’m over the moon that this has finally happened after repeated submissions and requests over decades,” Schiff told The AJN, saying that for years she had been told it was Australia Post policy to only use Australians on stamps, with the exception of the Queen.
Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin represented B'nai B'rith International at the home of Israel's Ambassador Ron Dermer during his annual Rosh Hashanah reception.
Mariaschin's presence was noted by Jewish Insider, which also offered the context of the gathering and a transcription of Dermer's toast to the New Year. Read excerpts from the article below:
Approximately 150 guests, including Jewish leaders, diplomats, journalists and members of Congress, gathered last night at the home of Israel's Ambassador Ron Dermer and his wife Rhoda in Chevy Chase to toast the upcoming Jewish New Year.
Dermer began by joking: "I hope you all had a more uneventful summer than I (laughter)... I could do boring for while. It'd be fine for me. But we are obviously meeting at a time when everyone is discussing the deal with Iran, a few of you raised it with me tonight not surprisingly, and I want to take this opportunity to let you know that Israel is opposed to the deal (laughter). I know that comment is going to set the entire twitter-sphere ablaze.
"The right of Israel to convey its views about a deal with an Iranian regime that actively works and openly calls for our annihilation... should not be the subject of controversy. It should be self-evident. But to some, it’s not. Because while no one questions the right of the Ambassadors of the other P5+1 countries to meet with members of Congress and explain why they believe this is a good deal, some have questioned whether it is appropriate for Israel to make its case to those same members of Congress. That’s pretty disturbing. Because there is no country in the world that has a greater right than Israel to weigh in on this issue because there is no country in the world that has more at stake than Israel.
"But regardless of where you stand on the nuclear deal with Iran, on this Rosh Hashana, let us all raise a glass and toast the fact that the Jewish people are voiceless no more. Israel has provided us with a shofar, with a sovereign voice among the nations. Israel will continue to blow that shofar with pride. And on this Rosh Hashana, let us also toast a privilege we all have – the privilege to live at a time when the Jewish people not only have a voice but when we also have the power and will to defend ourselves – a will that no deal and no force on earth will ever break." [Transcript; Audio]
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.
B'nai B'rith International condemned the song and commended the university for seeking to overhaul the band's culture. The organization's statement was featured in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, excerpts of which can be found below:
The song, titled “Goodbye Kramer,” appeared in a book of parodies updated in 2012 and circulated privately by members of the university’s marching band, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The lyrics, to be sung to the tune of the 1981 Journey hit “Don’t Stop Believin’,” include references to Nazi soldiers “searching for people livin’ in their neighbor’s attic” and a “small town Jew … who took the cattle train to you know where.”
B’nai B’rith International, a Jewish human rights and advocacy group, condemned the song’s authors and praised the university’s response.
“It is never acceptable to trivialize Holocaust imagery,” B’nai B’rith said in a statement Thursday. “To do so in a jovial tone and completely for the sake of offending is even more abhorrent.”
In light of the current wave of unrelenting attacks against Israel's legitimacy, B'nai B'rith International joined B'nai B'rith Europe, local lodges and dozens of other Jewish organization to rally in support of Israel outside of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
B’nai B’rith is highly critical of the report issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) “independent, international commission of inquiry” into Israel’s defensive operations against Hamas in Gaza during the summer of 2014. The report inherently lacks credibility and should not be taken as a serious evaluation of the necessary counterterrorism actions of the Israel Defense Forces.
B'nai B'rith International's Israel/Middle East policy includes issues such as fighting terrorism; supporting Israel's right to defend itself; preventing Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons; preserving the unity of Jerusalem; promoting the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries; and supporting direct negotiations between the parties to the Middle East conflict while affirming the importance of Israel's critical security needs.
Photos below courtesy of Israel In Switzerland:
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