The Dissenter’s Hope: In Memoriam, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l

 

Editor’s Note: JSA contributor Alden Solovy prepared this prayer for justice in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week.

“…that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow…” – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l, NPR interview, 2002

This prayer for justice is written in memoriam for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l. Three ideas drove this piece. First, that it should echo her passion, inspired by some of her own words. Second, that others would write her eulogy and tell her story; rather, this prayer envisions the future she worked toward. Third, that it reflect her deep connection to the principles of justice found in Judaism by quoting Jewish text. The obvious choice would have been Deuteronomy [16:20] — “Justice, justice you shall pursue” — but since she died on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a reference to the High Holiday liturgy seemed more fitting to the moment.

The Dissenter’s Hope
Never surrender the fight for today,
And never give up the dream of a better tomorrow.
For this is the dissenter’s hope,
That one day,
Some enlightened day in the future,
When truth is given full voice,
Justice will win the majority,
And the bell of freedom will ring
With new clarity.

For nations and societies are ever-threatened
By oppressors and would-be despots,
New pharaohs with old designs
For power and dominion.

Never surrender the fight for today,
And never give up the vision of a better tomorrow.
For the work of liberty can be slow,
The ongoing pursuit of equality and love of humankind.
This is the dissenter’s hope,
That some enlightened day in the future,
Every call for justice will win the majority,
And the light of freedom will shine
With perfect clarity.

וּבְכֵן צַדִּיקִים יִרְאוּ וְיִשְׂמָֽחוּ וִישָׁרִים יַעֲלֹֽזוּ וַחֲסִידִים בְּרִנָּה יָגִֽילוּ וְעוֹלָֽתָה תִּקְפָּץ פִּֽיהָ. וְכָל הָרִשְׁעָה כֻּלָּהּ כְּעָשָׁן תִּכְלֶה כִּי תַעֲבִיר מֶמְשֶֽׁלֶת זָדוֹן מִן הָאָֽרֶץ

Uvchein tzadikim yiru v’yismachu, visharim yaalozu, vachasidim b’rinah yagilu, v’olatah tikpotz-piha, v’chol harishah kulah k’ashan tichleh, ki taavir memshelet zadon min ha-aretz.

And then the righteous will see and rejoice, and the upright will exult, and the pious will rejoice with song; injustice will have nothing more to say, and wickedness will vanish like smoke, when You sweep the rule of evil from the earth.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

Postscript: The liturgical quote comes from the High Holiday Amidah. The Hebrew is from Sefaria.org, the transliteration from Mishkan Hanefesh, and the translation is a combination of translations from Sefaria, the Koren High Holiday Machzor, the Silverman (1951) machzor, and Mishkan Hanefesh. Thank you to Sivan Rotholz for the nudge to write this piece.

 

 

 

 

About Alden Solovy
Alden Solovy spreads joy and excitement for prayer. A liturgist and poet, his work has been used by people of all faiths throughout the world. He’s written more than 700 pieces of new liturgy, offering a fresh new Jewish voice, challenging the boundaries between poetry, meditation, personal growth and prayer. He’s a teacher, a writing coach and an award-winning essayist and journalist. He’s an ELI talk fellow, speaking on “Falling in Love with Prayer.” Alden’s writing was transformed by multiple tragedies, marked in 2009 by the sudden death of his wife from catastrophic brain injury. As a result, he deepened his exploration of meditation, poetry, liturgy and personal prayer as a healing, spiritual practice. His third book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day, was released in 2017 by CCAR Press. His next book, This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings, is anticipated this winter, also from CCAR Press. Alden’s work has been widely anthologized, including Men Pray (Skylight Paths Publishing) and Choosing a Jewish Life (Anita Diamant, Schocken), as well as these CCAR Press books: Gates of Shabbat; Mishkah R’Fuah: Where Healing Resides; L’col Z’man Eit: For Sacred Moments, a Rabbi’s Manual; and Mishkan Hanefesh, a new machzor. Alden is a three-time winner of Chicago journalism’s top prize for essay writing. He was the National Havurah Committee’s 2015 Summer Institute Liturgist-In-Residence. Here are his publishing credits. Alden is available to teach, read his work or serve as liturgist-in-residence. Click on “Alden Teaches.” His teaching spans from U.S. synagogues to Limmud Conference UK to HUC-JIR, Jerusalem. Here’s his speaking schedule, as well as testimonials from rabbis and educators. Alden holds a B.A. in English composition with a minor in literature from Beloit College, an M.A. in journalism from the University of Illinois-Springfield and an M.B.A. in economics and finance from the University of Chicago. He previously served as executive editor and associate publisher for the Journals of the American Hospital Association.

1 Comment

  1. This is beautiful. Thank you.

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