By Rabbi Joshua Ratner
Holy One of Blessing,
We pray that you grant eternal rest in Your sheltering presence to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Yita Ruchel bat Tzirel Leah, who passed away on Erev Rosh Hashanah, Friday, September 18, 2020.
Our tradition considers one who dies at this auspicious time to be a tzadik, or righteous person. Justice Ginsburg embodied tzedek, justice, throughout her life, through her groundbreaking legal advocacy for female equality under the law and her decades of powerful jurisprudence as a federal appellate judge and later Supreme Court Justice. She passionately embraced her commitment to tzedek, weaving the word in silk into the signature collar Ginsburg wore with her robe on the opening day of last year’s Supreme Court session, and framing on a wall in her chambers the famous phrase from Deuteronomy, “tzedek, tzedek tirdof” — justice, justice, shall you pursue.
Justice Ginsburg’s death leaves all of us bereft. She was a true Eshet Hayil, a woman of valor, wisdom, courage, humility, decency and genius. In life, she taught us not only how to advocate fervently for one’s beliefs, but also, through her close friendship with Justice Scalia, how to argue and disagree respectfully without demonizing one’s adversary.
Justice Ginsburg endured tremendous suffering later in life with the grace, nobility, and strength that epitomized her character. She struggled with colon cancer for more than 20 years, along with pancreatic and lung cancer. And, in 2010, she lost her partner of more than 50 years, Martin Ginsburg z”l. Master of Mercy, may Justice Ginsburg’s soul now rest alongside Martin’s, in peace and tranquility.
Compassionate God, please grant Justice Ginsburg’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren comfort and healing at this difficult time. To them and to all who mourn her passing, we offer these words from our tradition:
HaMakom yenachem etchem b’toch she’ar aveilei Tziyon vi’yerushalayim.
May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
And may Yita Ruchel bat Tzirel Leah’s soul be bound up in the bonds of life and may her memory always be for a blessing.