Today is Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, and typically a day of joy and celebration. While I consider myself simply a secular Jew — that is, not religious or observant in any way, but with a cultural connection — the day seems to stand out for me this year in ways it hasn’t in decades. And the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, I believe, what has made me so conscious of it.
The loss to us in RBG’s passing — to the country, to its citizens, to women, to anyone who has ever had to fight for their rights — is inestimable. The woman was a warrior for good, a brilliant mind with a heart to match, an unfailing moral compass to follow as she fought for fairness, decency, and justice. Comparing Madam Justice to Lady Liberty would be more than appropriate.
The fact that her death comes now, as we continue to rail against a pandemic — of disease, of natural disasters, of racism, and of a country torn apart — only highlights to me how much tougher it will be to fight it all without her spirited will and her indefatigable spirit to help lead the charge.
And yet. Perhaps as this New Year dawns, the depth of her loss will signal a turn in the direction she so valiantly believed in. Perhaps the realization of all she stood for and what she has left us as a legacy will cut through all the noise, the disinformation, and the hate. Perhaps her one last act will be to shake awake the conscience and awareness needed for us all to find that brighter future sooner rather than later.
And so to Ruth Bader Ginsburg I say thank you. For the fires you lit, the ceaseless determination you showed, the justice you brought about. For the sweet liberty you broke barriers to instill. To you I wish godspeed and a well-deserved, peaceful rest.
And for the rest of us, I wish that the year ahead, whether or not it begins with Rosh Hashanah, is one of healing. Of light. Of serenity.
Vote. (And try some matzoh ball soup — it can’t hurt.)
© 2020 Claudia Grossman