Opera lover and world’s best bubbe | by Dede Feinberg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center in New York City in 2016.
Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images

An appreciation

By Dede Feinberg

I first met Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Kennedy Center when my husband, Ken, and I joined her at performances of the Washington National Opera. She loved the opera and never missed a premiere or opening night. For years my husband would accompany her to the movies on Saturday afternoon for performances of the Metropolitan Opera.

In addition to her love of opera and culture, Justice Ginsburg pointed with pride and love when it came to the Jewish community. She cared deeply about her Jewish roots in Brooklyn. The justice was also a close friend and supporter of Jewish causes. Just a few years ago she received the Genesis Prize Lifetime Achievement Award, given to individuals who promote Jewish values. In her honor the Genesis Foundation granted awards to programs and organizations that support gender equality and empowerment to resist violence and promote socio-economic opportunity for women and children in Israel and around the world. At her request, I provided her the names of potential nominees for the prize.


On more than one occasion, I asked Justice Ginsburg to help me in promoting Jewish organizations in which I was involved. She never failed me. Time and again she would respond personally, and despite her complex, ever-changing schedule would appear on cue to audiences that considered her a rock star, a celebrity, the “Notorious” RBG. She was a highlight of the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly. Years later attendees still tell me how memorable the session was.

We had discussions about my involvement in the Jewish Democratic Council of America, so it was perfect that on Mother’s Day I gave her a JDCA coffee mug with her image and the quotation “World’s Best Bubbe.” She loved it!

Justice Ginsburg’s life and writing were guided by the biblical words “Justice thou shall pursue.” Her judicial opinions and advocacy reflected her deep commitment to civil liberties, especially freedom of religion, opposition to racial, gender or any other type of discrimination and protection of the rights of the less fortunate.

Justice Ginsburg will be missed by many for her wisdom and commitment to equal justice. I will cherish the memories of her warmth and personal friendship.

Dede Feinberg is a member of the Jewish Agency board and a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

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