On this Rosh Hashanah, with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the hope for a “Sweet New Year” feels somehow empty
Today, Jews all around the world celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Since I’m not a particularly religious man, and certainly no Biblical scholar, forgive my having to use Wikipedia as my source:
Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה), literally means “head of the year.” The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (יוֹם תְּרוּעָה), literally “day of shouting or blasting.” It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days (יָמִים נוֹרָאִים Yamim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”), ending with Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּיפּוּר) “Day of Atonement” as specified by Leviticus 23:23–32 that occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere
Today marks the first day of the Jewish calendar year, 5781. On this day Jews greet each other with the phrase “Shanah tovah” (שנה טובה) or “Good Year.”
Jewish holidays and festivals typically begin the night before the actual date. Last night, Friday, September 18, 2020 was Erev Rosh Hashanah (“Rosh Hashanah eve”), the beginning of the “Days of Awe”.
On this Erev Rosh Hashanah I am left with no option but to paraphrase a question posed on another Jewish holiday, Passover:
“Why is this night different from all other nights? Why is this Erev Rosh Hashanah different than any other Erev Rosh Hashanah?”
Because on this night, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away.
The year 5780/2020 was an annus horribilis (“horrible year”). Will 5781 (and by extension 2021) be a continuation of the horror?
I will not go into Justice Ginsburg’s remarkable, trail blazing life, her unmatched impact on her country, her heartfelt humanity; the media professionals will do a much better job honoring Justice Ginsberg’s life than I can.
I will, however, go into what occurred within hours of Justice Ginsburg’s passing, a mere 44 days before the next presidential election.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate issued the following statement:
“The Senate and the nation mourn the sudden passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
In February 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the same Mitch McConnell, in the same role as Senate Majority Leader, over 300 days before the 2016 presidential election, said this,
“I can now confidently say the view shared by virtually everybody in my conference, is that the nomination should be made by the president the people elect in the election that’s underway right now. I believe the overwhelming view of the Republican Conference in the Senate is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame duck president…The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.”
I could go on and on. But I won’t. I will however, leave you with this, from 1954, the year in which Joseph Welch, the attorney for the Army in the Army-McCarthy hearings said to Senator Joseph McCarthy, until now, the most notorious and vilified senator in American history:
“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
With all due respect to Mr. Welch, I now have to ask Senator McConnell, after making his hypocritical, ghoulish statement only hours after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, not even allowing her to rest in peace,
“Have you no sense of decency, Mr. McConnell, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
McConnell’s words and actions answer my questions. I hope he will relish his new badge of dishonor as he passes McCarthy in the Senate “Hall of Shame.”
Justice Ginsburg, rest in peace. They may try to replace you but you know, I know, we all know, your are irreplaceable. No one can ever replace the “Notorious RBG!”