With the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, America is mourning a powerful champion for justice and the Jewish community is mourning the passing of one of the great living legends of our community. Justice Ginsburg stood firm in her values until the end. 

After graduating from Columbia Law School she challenged gender-based discrimination in a series of court cases, including before the Supreme Court. She co-founded the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and went on to be its general counsel. She also broke gender barriers, serving as the first tenured female professor at Columbia Law School and the second woman, and first Jewish woman, on the Supreme Court. 

Before she was named to the bench, Justice Ginsburg was a leader in the American Jewish Congress. Through the 1970s and early 1980s she actively participated in our Commission on Law and Social Action. We honored her in 2001 for her outstanding contribution to the development of a just society and a strong Jewish community and her work with our organization throughout the years.

She served women, the Jewish community, other minorities, as well as the wider American public as a tireless advocate even before she joined the bench. As a justice, she stood for civil rights and promoted the idea of a living constitution that adapts to changes in society. She was known for her powerful opinions, particularly when dissenting from the majority. 

In announcing her passing, Chief Justice John Roberts called Ginsburg “a justice of historic stature” and a “resolute champion of justice.” President Trump referred to her as “a titan of the law” saying her influence has “inspired all Americans and generations of great legal minds”. Former Vice President Joe Biden called her “an American hero, a giant of legal doctrine, and a relentless voice in the pursuit of that highest American ideal: Equal Justice Under Law”. 

Jack Rosen, President of the American Jewish Congress, expressed his condolences saying, “Justice Ginsburg made a huge contribution not only to the law but broadly to our understanding of civil rights in America. She was fearless and determined. She will be greatly missed.” 

Justice Ginsburg was a fighter until the end. Her legacy – defined by brilliance, determination, and unwavering faith in justice – will forever serve as an inspiration. The American Jewish Congress mourns her passing and wishes her family a long life. 

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.