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Exploring the Life and Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On February 10th, The Giving Square partnered with The Capital Jewish Museum to explore the roots of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's philanthropic legacy in a session designed for 8-12-year-olds. The Capital Jewish Museum is a new DC Museum that explores the intersection of the American Jewish Experience and Democracy here in the nation's capital. In the session, we talked about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's childhood and what prepared her to be a philanthropist. Her culture, family, and religion, personal connections to unfairness and injustice, role models, and skills all influenced and prepared her for an empathetic and philanthropic life.

In exploring the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her early years have much to offer. As a child, she was surrounded by loss. At 14 months old Ruth (then Joan) lost her older sister. It is this early pain that she attributes to why she was so empathetic throughout her life and career. She once said:"[My empathy] may have begun when I appreciated how much my parents were affected by the death of my sister. So I knew what it was like to grieve."

Awareness of gender discrimination surfaced early. Her own mother, a gifted student, had to forgo a college education because her family couldn't afford to send both her and her brother. RBG was frustrated that girls did sewing and cooking and boys could take shop. She was confused why her brother had a Bar Mitzvah “but there was no comparable ceremony for [her].” (My Own Words, 15).

She had a strong voice at an early age. At 13 she had published an essay in her synagogue bulletin titled, One People. "We cannot feel safer until every nation, regardless of weapons or power, will meet together in good faith, the people worthy of mutual association." She was an active reader, gifted storyteller, persistent and tough. She used her skills to fight for justice.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 2, Courtesy of Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States


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