READ: Teenage Ruth Bader Ginsburg Essay on the Holocaust By Erica Nadelhaft, Northern Maine Educator

Ruth Bader Ginsburg z”l was tireless and relentless in her pursuit of social justice. She was articulate, determined, intelligent, steadfast and humble. If she had her moments of doubt or fear as she fought her battles – our battles – we did not see them.

She was at the forefront of the legal fight to protect women’s rights from early in her career. Her lifelong fight for the rights of women, and, indeed, the rights of all, was grounded in the Jewish values of seeking justice and living an ethical life with which she grew up. She was articulate, determined, intelligent, and steadfast. If she had her moments of doubt or fear as she fought her battles, our battles, we did not see them. 

As a Jew, Ruth Bader Ginsburg grew up in a tradition imbued with the idea of justice. Even as a young girl, however, she recognized injustice and the inherent contradiction and discrimination against women that existed within that very tradition, wondering why, at age thirteen, boys were allowed a bar mitzvah and girls were not. And at age thirteen herself, in 1946, she thought not only about the unfairness that affected her in her own community, but about the pain and lessons of the Holocaust. She wrote an essay that year, reprinted below, that shows the values and beliefs about humanity and human beings that underlay her life’s work. It is worth reading.

Yate The war has left a bloody trail and many deep wounds not too easily healed. Many people have been left with scars that take a long time to pass away. We must never forget the horrors which our brethren were subjected to in Bergen-Belsen and other Nazi concentration camps. Then, too, we must try hard to understand that for righteous people hate and prejudice are neither good occupations nor fit companions. Rabbi Alfred Bettleheim once said: “Prejudice saves us a painful trouble, the trouble of thinking.” In our beloved land families were not scattered, communities not erased nor our nation destroyed by the ravages of the World War.

Yet, dare we be at ease? We are part of a world whose unity has been almost completely shattered. No one can feel free from danger and destruction until the many torn threads of civilization are bound together again. We cannot feel safer until every nation, regardless of weapons or power, will meet together in good faith, the people worthy of mutual association.

There can be a happy world and there will be once again, when men create a strong bond towards one another, a bond unbreakable by a studied prejudice or a passing circumstance. Then and only then shall we have a world built on the foundation of the Fatherhood of God and whose structure is the Brotherhood of Man.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, One People essay on the Holocaust


Posted in ,

Get HHRC Updates