Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Embodying Qualities of Righteousness in the Law
Based in Cook County, Illinois, Judge Megan Goldish is an elected jurist who handles cases in the court’s Domestic Violence Division. Active in her legal community, Judge Megan Goldish is a member of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers.
One longstanding inspiration of the Society, which spans the intersection of Judaism and legal practice, was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As described in an In Memoriam piece published on the organization’s website, Ginsburg embodied “righteousness,” a quality captured in the Decalogue Society motto “Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof (Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue).” The word tzedek, which means justice in Hebrew, has the same root as the word tzedakah (charity), which in turn comes from the word for righteousness.
Like many women of her generation, Ginsburg’s career was a dream initially deferred, as she supported her husband as a homemaker while he served in the military. When she did enroll at Harvard University in the late 1950s, Ginsburg was one of only nine women in a class of 500 law students. At the same time as she studied, she took care of her children and of her husband, who developed cancer.
These early experiences of overcoming adversity formed a character driven to help others succeed. As a tenured Columbia Law School professor, Ginsburg directed the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project and worked to create a less discriminatory society. This ultimately led to her being appointed in 1980 to the US Court of Appeals and in 1993 by President Bill Clinton to the US Supreme Court.
As noted in the In Memoriam article, Ginsburg’s passing came on Rosh Hashanah, the turning of the Hebrew calendar. This is a day when those of the Jewish faith recite the Unesaneh Tokef, which emphasizes that, though life is uncertain, a life of righteousness and goodness can be achieved through personal effort.