Jewish Prayers From the Heart and Pen of Alden Solovy

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

“…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.

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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.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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