May Her Memory Be A Revolution by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

On the eve of the Jewish Sabbath and the start of Rosh Hashanah, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg breathed her last breath. She was 87. She fought so hard for so long. She is an American patriot, hero, champion for women’s rights, and for many she was the stalwart bastion of justice and ‘liberal’ rulings. She was a Supreme Court Justice for 27 years. Her life has been put into books, a movie, and the most notorious memes around. She became known for elaborate collars over her Justice robes. We mourn the lost of her, we celebrate her memory, and we must pull up our boots and continue the fight.

The Courtroom doors draped in black following the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Spetember 18th, 2020…Credit: Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

When I first heard the news, I became utterly still in what this means for our nation. And then the grief took over. I have had the privilege of only remembering having women sit on the Supreme Court from the days of Sandra Day O’Connor to today’s court of Ruth, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

And yes, it is frightening, scary, and overwhelming to think of what could happen now that a seat is vacant on the highest court in America. This post is to provide a space for us to collectively mourn and to figure out our game plans for the upcoming days and weeks.

Joan Ruth Bader was born into a Jewish family and was shaped by Judaism all her life (and like many, religion was a complex relationship). According to Jewish Traditions, a person who dies on the Sabbath is considered a righteous person. A person who dies on one of the High Holy Days is considered extremely righteous and called a Tzedek. Justice Bader Ginsberg is a Tzedek. She was relentless, she was courageous, and she was indelible. Molly Conway writes:

When we say that Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a Tzedek, we don’t just mean she was a nice person. What we’re saying is that she was a thoughtful person who worked tirelessly to create a more just world. One that would perpetuate equality and access, one that wasn’t reliant on charity, one that was better for people she did not know, without the expectation of praise or fame. THAT is what it means to be a Tzedek, and I can’t think of anyone who better embodies the pursuit of justice.

When we say “may her memory be for blessing” the blessing we speak of is not “may we remember her fondly” or “may her memory be a blessing to us” the blessing implied is this: May you be like Ruth. Jewish thought teaches us that when a person dies, it is up to those who bear her memory to keep her goodness alive. We do this by remembering her, we do this by speaking her name, we do this by carrying on her legacy. We do this by continuing to pursue justice, righteousness, sustainability.

So when you hear us say “May her memory be for blessing” don’t hear “It’s nice to remember her”– hear “It’s up to us to carry on her legacy.” When you hear us say, “She was a Tzedek” don’t hear “She was a nice person”– hear “She was a worker of justice.”

May her memory be for blessing. May her memory be for revolution. May we become a credit to her name.

She has redefined what “dissent”, “courage” and “fortitude” is. I know for me she represented tenacity, relentlessness, courage, strength, intelligence, and humanity. I have known certain freedoms of my body and personhood because of her hard work and dedication to equality and justice. She had spunk and sass and wit. She was the Notorious RBG and she was ours.

So, what happens now, the fight for our souls, humanity, and our very lives is raging. ActBlue saw a surge of donations once the news broke. Over $95 million dollars have been donated to liberal campaigns across the country.

We experienced a Supreme Court Justice death during an election in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died. If we follow this precedence, we THE PEOPLE, must demand our senators and representatives to HOLD OFF hearings for Justice Bader Ginsberg’s replacement until after the 2020 Presidential Election. We need to flood social medias, inboxes, and phone banks with the exact words that the Republican members used during the 2016 election:

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election.”

Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term – I would say that if it was a Republican president.”

Thom Tillis (R-N.C.): “The campaign is already under way. It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.”

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.): “The Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until we have a new president.”

Cory Gardner (R-Col.): “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Ruth’s dying request was that the replacement hearings would happen AFTER the election and a new president was sworn in.

I know it seems dark, futile, but if we can rely on anything it is this. It is always darkest before the dawn. We must fight, kick, and scream to bring forth the light. We will be mourning Justice Bader Ginsberg for a long time; we can also ensure that the work that she started continues and expands. Justice Bader Ginsberg spend a good portion of her life devoted to justice and preserving the Law. A saying given to Jewish mourners is Baruch Dayan Ha’emet” which means Blessed is the True Judge. We mourn and we rally.

May her memory be for blessing. May her memory be for revolution. May we become a credit to her name.

Anjeanette LeBoeuf is hunkering down during this pandemic and hopes all that reads this are safe and well. Anjeanette hopes if you live in the United States and are eligible to make sure you are registered to vote for the upcoming November election. She is fiercely calling the offices of Representative Devin Nunes, Tom McClintock and other California Republican representatives to demand they vote against holding Supreme Court Justice Appointment hearings until after the new president is installed. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion.

Categories: Grief, Healing, In Remembrance, In the News, Jewish Feminism, Judaism, Politics, Sisterhood, Women and Work, Women's Agency, Women's Power, Women's Rights, Women's Voices

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6 replies

  1. Thanks for the quotes. I have a list of phone numbers and hope to start calling today.

    Does anyone know the origin of “may her memory be for a revolution”? I read it somewhere, perhaps here. I want to use it with proper attribution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judith,

      Glad about your plan to call! it is so important that we continue the work and to ensure that the Senate and this Presidency honor RBG’s dying wish.

      And as far as I know the origins of “may her memory be for a revolution” is rooting in the traditions of what is written on Jewish gravestones. I first say that saying in the Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris in the memorial for the Jewish freedom fighters of WWII. Molly Conway who I quoted in my blog also used it as well as other Jewish Rabbis.


  2. Brava! I didn’t know about what how people who die on the Holy Days become Tzedeks. Thanks. The word certainly describes RBG. She was a great woman and a greater, more sensible, more just, more honest, more righteous than almost anyone else in the government in D.C.

    I keep wanting to write to my senators and ask them, “When a senator comes into their office in the morning, exactly what is it that they do all day?” What do all those hypocritical Republicans you name do all day? Light candles before statues of the huge, dishonest, corrupt Orange Tyrannosaurus Rex? (Doesn’t that label just seem more and more appropriate these days??)

    Yes, we “average citizens” need to do what we can to help save democracy from hypocrisy and corruption. Thanks for this post. Bright blessings for safety and integrity for us all.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. She was indeed a tireless worker for Justice…and may her last wishes be heard – for all our sakes.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Yes, she was a Tzadik, and may we all be comforted among the mourners of the world. May her memory be for a blessing and a revolution.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful tribute and message to us all.

    Liked by 1 person

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