On December 16, 2013, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg honored Justice Elena Kagan, the third sitting Jewish Justice, with the Pursuit of Justice Award in the august chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg shared anecdotes about Justice Kagan with the audience, immediately following the Justice’s known accomplishments, i.e. first woman dean of Harvard Law School and first woman Solicitor General of the U.S. One such anecdote was that as a bat mitzvah at the Modern Orthodox Lincoln Square Synagogue, she argued with the rabbi about where she believed her place should be as she read the week’s portion and comment. Another historic anecdote recited by Justice Ginsburg, was that some of the sitting Justices turned their chairs around so that their backs would face Justice Louis Brandeis when he spoke.
Justice Kagan was especially moved by the meaning of the art award (pictured above) presented to her. The painting had, in Hebrew, the names of the four matriarchs with the four cups of wine symbolizing the seder, and Justice Kagan as the fourth woman Justice. Also evoked was Miriam, recognized by our tradition as having ensured Jewish continuity after we left Egypt.