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Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a mother, wife, activist, and Supreme Court justice who said ‘I don’t sit in the back’.

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Naomi and her family were very excited to be able to view the Ruth Bader Ginsburg exhibit in Cleveland. (Photo: supplied)

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This March, my mom, brother Asher, and I went to the “Notorious R.B.G.” exhibit at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, Ohio. The show had only opened two weeks before. I was very excited that we got to see the exhibition so quickly!

Before its premiere in Cleveland, the exhibition had been at several other venues, notably in Los Angeles, where it originated at the Skirball Cultural Center. The exhibit here will close at the end of August.

The museum website describes the exhibit as “a deep dive into the life and times of the progressive jurist, mother, feminist, and legal scholar who left huge stamp on American life.” 

When I visited the show that’s exactly what we saw!

Because of Covid we had timed tickets to help with social distancing, and that also meant the museum wasn’t overcrowded. We could enjoy the exhibit without feeling hurried. There were official National Gallery portraits there of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor, who was the first woman Supreme Court justice. It was exciting to see portraits from Washington D.C. here in Cleveland.

RBG is known in pop culture for a lot of reasons and one of them is a fashion choice: She is known for the collars that she wore. She wore collars depending on her opinion. For example, RBG chose to wear a spiky one if she was going to dissent the agreement. Since the court robes were made for men she wore the collars to jazz up her outfits. She also wore gloves while enduring chemotherapy and enjoyed wearing them so much that once she was better, she continued to wear them.

After a lot of serious dissents, she earned the nickname “Notorious R.B.G.” Ginsburg found this amusing and said that she and the Notorious B.I.G., a rapper, were both born and bred in Brooklyn. Ginsburg was Jewish and this aspect of her identity influenced her in a number of ways.

She had a place in her heart for minority and underrepresented groups especially women, and that helped her cases. At the exhibit, we got to see an example of her childhood in Brooklyn. There were replicas of what a sitting room, a school room, and more would have looked like in the 1940s! There were also photographs, artifacts, and archival documents.

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The walls at the exhibit were red, white, and blue to show how important she is to the U.S., such as her adjudication of the United States v. Virginia, 1996. The case was about the Virginia Military Institute not admitting women.

The argument of the federal government was that VMI violated the fourteenth amendment’s equal protection clause which should apply to state-funded schools. VMI thought admitting women would undermine its mission. The Supreme Court vote was seven-one in declaring their practice violated the constitution. Justice Clarence Thomas voted the opposite way, with some believing it was influenced by his son going to the school. R.B.G was assigned to write the majority opinion on behalf of the court. It was her biggest victory yet.

The exhibition featured her collars, hair scrunchies, and a replica of her desk. On the desk were some of her own things and a photograph. The photograph showed her white water rafting with some other Supreme Court justices.

I thought that was pretty amazing for two reasons: One, that the justices get along even though some were conservatives and some liberals. Two, because they were not very young yet they still went on adventures. Also on her desk was a little plaque that referred to that rafting trip. “An old colleague named Burt Neuborne said ‘You’re light you should sit in the back.’ R.B.G. said, ‘I don’t sit in the back.’”

What Jewish kid doesn’t like dressing up as their favorite USSC judge for Purim? (Photo: supplied)

RBG loved opera. She even went onstage during one of the Washington National Opera performances. An opera costume that she once wore was part of the exhibition. When RBG was young, she went to a camp called Camp Che-Na-Wah where she was voted camp rabbi. The exhibition had a photograph of her at camp.

While advocating for many important causes, like women’s rights and civil rights, she had a loving marriage with Marty Ginsburg who she met as a Cornell undergraduate. They had a daughter named Jane and a son named James. She was a successful working mother and still kept a healthy, loving relationship with her son and daughter. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the first women on the Supreme Court. She was the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court. To me, one of the most important things about her is that she was a mother, wife, an activist, and Supreme Court justice – and she did all of this so well!

Naomi, and her mom flank the masked RBG as brother Asher stands tall. (Photo: supplied)

The most fun thing that my mom, Asher, and I did was stand in a makeshift Supreme Court justice area. There we took a family photo with a cardboard cutout of RBG in front of the court.

All four of us (the fourth being RBG) had our masks on, of course.

I imagined that I, as a female and a Jew, could have an opportunity to be a Supreme Court justice – because RBG paved the way for me.

Naomi Baskind is a Jewish girl growing up in Cleveland. She is on the local swim team and loves reading fiction. Naomi is a member of the Global Jewish Pen Pal program.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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