Doesn’t Anyone Have Respect For Jews Observing Rosh Hashanah Anymore?
When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, September 18, at her home in Washington, D.C., it was just around the time of shkiah – the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and Shabbos.
This didn’t stop the seven Jewish members of the United States Senate from ignoring the High Holy Day and Shabbos, opting instead to issue news releases honoring the second female justice and the first Jewish woman to sit on the high court.
The biggest offender to show disrespect for the dual events last weekend was New York’s senior Unites States Senator Chuck Schumer, a reform Jew. Instead of attending services either by Zoom or in person, he decided to hold a caucus meeting via conference call with his Senate colleagues Saturday afternoon to discuss strategy for Bader’s successor. Schumer reportedly told his colleagues during the call, “If Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this (filling the vacancy), then nothing is off the table for next year. Nothing is off the table.”
The other Jewish Senators, all of whom I am dubbing JINOs (Jews In Name Only), posted news releases on their Senate website Friday night, after Rosh Hashanah and Shabbos began.
“The country lost a truly amazing woman tonight with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She may have been small of stature but she was an absolute giant of jurisprudence,” wrote Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA). “Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer for women. She was a once-in-a-generation legal mind and a passionate champion for the rights of all Americans. Simply put, she was an extraordinary person whose passing is a loss to the nation.”
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a giant,” wrote Senator Richard Blumental (D – CT). “The world is a different place because of her. More than the laws she forged are the lives she touched. She was soft-spoken and slight in stature, but packed a mighty punch. She will always be a uniquely American icon – breaking barriers with courage and conviction and letting nothing stop her from the classroom to the courtroom.”
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a brilliant jurist,” wrote Senator Brian Schatz (D – Hawaii). “In devoting her life to advancing equality and justice for all, she made our country a better place and blazed a trail for women in civic life. She leaves behind a powerful and enduring legacy that we must fight to protect. May she rest in peace.”
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a force for justice,” wrote Senator Jacky Rosen (D – NV). “From her role in the fight for gender equality, to a storied legal career, to serving as a lion on the bench of the United States Supreme Court, she used every ounce of her ability to give voice to the voiceless and help build a more equitable and just world. I share in our nation’s grief, and pledge to fight tirelessly to see that the monumental and historic work of Justice Ginsburg is honored for generations to come. May her memory forever be a blessing.”
A bi-partisan resolution commemorating Rosh Hashahnah and Yom Kippur co-sponsored by Rosen and Senator Kevin Cramer (R – ND), an Evangelical Christian, was posted on her website Friday night. She wrote, “This is a time to give thanks for the blessings we’ve received, and reflect on the hardships of the past year. I am proud to introduce a resolution recognizing the significance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Let us fulfill the promise of Rosh Hashanah by working to build a better world for all. I wish all those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah a joyous New Year filled with peace and good health. From my family to yours, Shanah Tovah U’Metukah!”
The most restrained reaction to Ginsburg’s death at age 87 from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, came from Senator Ron Wyden (D – OR).
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a once-in-a-generation role model and champion of equal rights. This is such an extraordinary loss for our country,” he wrote on Twitter at 8:40 p.m. Friday.
Senator Bernie Sanders (D – VT) wrote, “The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a tremendous loss to our country. She was an extraordinary champion of justice as well as equal rights and will be remembered as one of the great justices in modern American history.”
The rest of his statement focused on the upcoming battle over whether the next Supreme Court nominee should be appointed before the election or after the inauguration in January.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg recently told her granddaughter Clara Spera.
It is unclear if Ginsburg will get her dying wish. Senate Republicans are actively trying to muster up enough members to vote for a new Supreme Court justice before Election Day.
Other offenders who put their jobs ahead of their personal religious views is CNN’s Dana Schwartz Bash, a political correspondent for the network. She was on the air at 10:45 p.m. Friday night discussing Ginsburg’s death.
Fifty-three cities across the United States, including four cities in New York state, held vigils and memorials on Saturday in honor of Ginsburg’s passing. Many of these outpourings of compassion and sympathy for the Ginsburg family and Justice Ginsburg’s legacy were held by non-Jews, women and black political leaders. These groups often call for respect of their religion, gender and color, but do not give a second thought to holding off their grief for a latter day so observant Jews can join in and demonstrate the same outpouring of remembrance toward a groundbreaking jurist. In order to obtain respect you have to give respect. These vigils and memorials on Rosh Hashanah and Shabbos were inappropriate and need to be acknowledged as such.
Finally, whoever authorized the final ceremony before Justice Ginsburg is laid to rest should be fired. Jews are supposed to be buried within 24 hours of death but Justice Ginsburg is expected to lie in repose at the Supreme Court for two days, between Wednesday, September 23 and Thursday, September 24. Her public viewing is planned to be held outdoors. A separate private funeral and internment service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery.
Maybe it is too soon post-Rosh Hashanah, but the Orthodox Jewish leadership in this country should speak up about how her death has been processed and how Jewish elected officials have responded during Shabbos and Rosh Hashanah.
To all those who read my column, may you and your loved ones have a happy, healthy, sweet, peaceful, productive, prosperous, successful, inspirational, spiritual year in 5781. Best wishes for a k’sivah v’chasimah tovah.