Hope Blecher
Hadassah Educators Council

The Supreme Court, Sports & Hadassah: Connecting Historic “Gamechanger” Moments

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis; Photo courtesy of Hadassah

Wow, April has been an historic month.

There’s the US Senate’s confirmation of Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt to serve as the first US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism with the rank of Ambassador. Then, we had Rachel, “Rae” Balkovec, who made her historic managerial as the first woman to manage a minor league baseball team with a Major League Baseball affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons. Listen to the words of the fans in the above hyperlink to interviews of young fans at that game. As Rachel noted, she’s motivated by the women who came before her.

And then there was the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.  According to the Atlanta Voice:

At one point during her Senate confirmation hearings, Jackson became visibly emotional and could be seen wiping away tears as Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who is one of only three Black senators, talked about her path to the nomination and the obstacles she has had to overcome. “My parents grew up in a time in this country in which Black children and White children were not allowed to go to school together,” Jackson told Sen. Cory Booker after the senator asked what values her parents had impressed upon her. “They taught me hard work. They taught me perseverance. They taught me that anything is possible in this great country.” 

This confirmation hearing comes 106 years after the first public hearing on Supreme Court nominees. In 1916, it was Louis Brandeis, who became the first justice to face confirmation hearings and after four months, who became the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice.

After his death, the New York Times referred to Justice Brandeis as a justice who “has regarded the Constitution as no iron straitjacket but a garment that must fit each generation.” This notion of subsequent generations was echoed in the fan interviews at Rachel’s game, in the sentiments expressed by Judge Jackson, and in the work done by Hadassah members from Henrietta Szold to Ruth Bader Ginsberg to those who serve at Hadassah medical facilities worldwide.

Ketanji’s confirmation comes 19 months after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Affectionately called “RBG,” she was also a lifelong member of Hadassah. The theme of women who came before her was part of a recent Saturday Night Life sketch celebrating the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, as the first black female U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  The SNL skit included an “appearance by” Judge Ginsberg, as one of the women who came before and paved the way for Judge Jackson. Twenty-nine years is the span between these two historic Supreme Court moments of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

We will not see Justice Ginsberg and Justice Jackson lock elbows and walk together as Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel did when they marched together in Selma. Although, I hope we may experience an emotion such as Rabbi Heschel famously remarked, “I felt like my legs were praying.”

Over the next 29 years, may the words inscribed in the Isaiah Wall near the United Nations in NYC, the same words we speak in a Prayer for Our Nation come to fruition: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation and neither shall they experience war anymore” (Siddur Sim Shalom, @1998).

About the Author
Dr. Hope Blecher, a member of the Hadassah Educators Council and the Hadassah Writers' Circle, has been working in the field of education for 37 years. Currently, she serves as an English as a Second Language teacher for an adult education program in NJ. Recently, she became the founder of Previously, Hope served in capacities from being the first Middle School Curriculum Coordinator and Humanities teacher for a yeshiva in Teaneck, NJ, to serving in public schools as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and the Supervisor of English Literacy, Social Studies and Media Services. Dr. Hope Blecher holds multiple standard NJDOE issued certifications that she has used by serving as an adjunct professor, a teacher of high school students with special needs, English Language Learners K-adult, and those in the elementary age level classrooms. Along with friends and colleagues, Hope co-authored educational books and articles. She earned a BA in Sociology, an MA in Early Childhood Education, and an Ed.D. in Teacher Leadership. She has been a member of Hadassah for over a decade, first in the Southern NJ chapter and currently in the Lower New York State chapter.