Ruth Bader Ginsburg Tribute
The Shalom Report
Dear friends, Just yesterday, I could not imagine myself writing and sending any letter on Rosh Hashanah — and then Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, just hours before Rosh Hashanah.
Her death broke my heart.
I spoke about her in a brief focus on lighting the Shabbat/ Rosh Hashanah candles in the transcontinental service led last night by Rabbi Shefa Gold. What I said is beneath this portrait of her as a sacred guest for the Sukkah that The Shalom Center prepared months ago
What I said, from my heart without a text before Rabbi Phyllis Berman lit the candles and said the blessings, was this:
What are the candles we kindle here,
The fires we light to begin the year?
We among all life-forms
face the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth.
We come to douse that outer all-consuming fire.
We must light again in our own hearts
the inner fire of love and liberation
that burned in the Burning Bush —
The fire that did not destroy the Bush it burned in —
As that inner fire burned in the heart of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg —
The fire that did not desroy but loved and liberated —
Loved and liberated women;
Loved and liberated Black women and men denied the right to vote;
Sought to love and liberate us all.
She became a great light of the American people,
A great light of the Jewish People
Calling forth the fire within us,
Each of us and all of us,
Our fire of love and liberation.
For that love is strong as death —
Love’s Fire must never be extinguished:
The fire in the heart of all Creation.
It is our task to make from inner fire
Not an all-consuming blaze
But these loving lights we kindle now
in which we see more clearly
The Rainbow Covenant glowing
in the many-colored faces of all life.
The Shalom Center has urged us to make the theme of Sukkot this year “Share Sukkot: Green and Grow the Vote.” We asked our President Emerita, Arlene Goldbard, to design the posters for ‘ushpizin” (sacred guests) to honor heroes of voting rights for our sukkot this coming Harvest festival . The set of them — eight separate posters, including Justice RBG, Congressman John Lewis, and one with Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman — are at https://theshalomcenter.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=1
According to National Public Radio, “Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.’ “
For the sake of our democratic future and the values of honest judgeship held sacred by Torah, let us strive with all our might, all our inner fire of love and liberation, all our nonviolent soul-force, to make that dying wish come true.
Shanah tovah, shinui tov! — A year of good toward a transformation for the good — Arthur