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Poster Commentary
"On the wall of my chambers it says: ‘Justice, justice will you pursue.’ (Deuteronomy 16:20) "Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Poster design:Chloe Cushman


by Ruth Messinger

In the biblical commandment, why is justice something we “pursue”? (The Hebrew word literally means “chase after.”) And why does the word “justice” appear twice?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life suggests an answer to both.

Ginsburg understood that justice doesn’t just happen. It must be passionately and relentlessly pursued. When Ginsburg began her legal career in the 1960s and 1970s, gender discrimination was embedded in many areas of the law. Her work at the American Civil Liberties Union, and later as a federal judge, helped end legal discrimination against women. In serving on the U.S. Supreme Court beginning in 1993, she rendered decisions, filed dissents, and influenced policies that have advanced justice for all of us, including minorities, workers, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and women.

At the same time, Ginsburg had a profound respect for legal process and the right of her fellow justices to disagree with her. In a poignant case in point, Justice Scalia, one of her chief ideological rivals on the Court, was also one of her dearest friends.

Our rabbis teach that the biblical commandment repeats the word “justice” to remind us that both our end and our means must be just.

On the occasion of receiving the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award, Ginsburg said: “The demand for justice, for peace, and for enlightenment runs through the entirety of Jewish history and Jewish tradition. I hope, in all the years I have the good fortune to continue serving on the bench, I will have the strength and courage to remain steadfast in the service of that demand.

Ruth Messinger is former CEO of the American Jewish World Service, an international human rights and development organization. She is a member of the World Bank’s Task Force to End Extreme Poverty and is involved in advancing social justice activism in the Jewish community.


Conversation Guide


  • What’s an example of an “end” that is just? A “means” that is just?
  • How has society made progress toward justice in the past half-century? In your mind, what is the most important work yet to be done to achieve a just society?
  • What does the poster suggest to you about Ginsburg’s character, influences, and contributions?



Wall of Fame©2020, Choloe Cushman, Quote: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, West Springfield, MA