December 11, 2018

Saying Tehillim for Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The love and affection for a most unlikely heroine — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — apparently knows no bounds. 

The 85-year-old justice, dubbed the Notorious RBG, has had books written about her and documentaries made on her work. Currently, there’s an exhibit on her life and work at the Skirball Cultural Center; little girls dress up as her for Halloween, and you can even purchase an RBG bobble-head doll. Next month, actress Felicity Jones will star as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the feature film “On the Basis of Sex.”

What else is left? 

A Tehillim (reciting of psalms) spreadsheet.

On the evening of Nov. 7, Justice Ginsburg fell and broke three ribs while working in her Supreme Court office and was hospitalized the following day. 

The following morning, Tamar Fox, who lives in Philadelphia, set up a Tehillim spreadsheet for people to read a verse every day. Within a short period of time, 150 people had signed up. 

The directions on the spreadsheet asked participants to pray for Ginsburg, whose Hebrew name is Yitta Ruchel bas Tzirel Leah, “twice each day until she is back on the bench.”

Fox told the Journal she started the spreadsheet “because I figured other people would also be worrying about RBG and wishing her well. Since I can’t make her a meal or help in person, this seemed like something manageable.”

“I started the Tehillim spreadsheet because I figured other people would also be worrying about RBG and wishing her well. Since I can’t make her a meal or help in person, this seemed like something manageable.” — Tamar Fox

A big fan of Ginsburg, Fox added, “She’s a fearless crusader for women’s rights. I am terrified of what could happen if she is unable to serve on the court anymore.”

One of the first people to sign up to recite Tehillim was New Jersey resident Zahava Stadler.

“One of the things I appreciate in Judaism is that it gives you ways to respond to difficult situations,” Stadler told the Journal. “When I heard about Justice Ginsburg being in the hospital, I wanted to do something. And one thing that Judaism offers when someone [is sick] is that you can recite Tehillim. Justice Ginsburg is so Jewish (her grandchildren call her Bubbe!) that it seemed right to respond in a Jewish way.”

Los Angeles writer Rebecca Klempner said she also signed up because Ginsburg “is an enormous inspiration to American women and girls. When I prayed, I included her in my requests for healing. I even put some coins in the tzedakah box on her behalf. When someone shared the spreadsheet and asked for people to say Tehillim, I thought, ‘What a great way to give back to a woman who gives so much to our country.’ ”

Ginsburg, who has vowed to remain on the Supreme Court until she is 90, was back at work just one day after her fall. 

Never underestimate the power of prayer.