RBG Chose Burial
Much has already been said about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and much more will be said in the days — indeed, years — to come (“Jewish Philadelphia Remembers Iconic Jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Sept. 24). She has earned her place as a political and cultural icon.
For Jews, she was the very face of Jewish liberalism. For that reason, it is noteworthy that Ginsburg, with all her progressive ideals, chose to be buried, rather than cremated.
Although it is a biblical mitzvah to be buried, we find that growing numbers of Jews, particularly liberal Jews, choose cremation, believing it to be somehow more “progressive” than traditional burial. But there is a difference between true liberalism and mere fashion, and we can be certain that a mind as reasoned as Ginsburg’s discerned that difference.
The decisions she authored impact every American, but it is Ginsburg’s final decision that Jews — across the political spectrum — should take to heart when considering their own plans.
Ginsburg was a liberal icon, but she was also Yita Rochel bat Tzirel Leah. She was born a Jew, she died a Jew, and she chose burial, because that’s what Jews do.
Rabbi Elchonon Zohn | National Association of Chevra Kadisha
Not a Good Comparison
In discussing some people’s discomfort with Ruth Bader Ginsburg z”l lying in state and in repose before her burial, Rabbi Lisa Silverstein (“There’s No Singular Jewish Way to Mourn or Grieve,” Oct. 1) points to the halachic precedent, places in Jewish law, where delayed burial is permitted. I do not believe there is similar leniency for cremation and, therefore, she made an unfair comparison.
Shiva rituals may differ depending on one’s custom, but it’s simply not at all the Jewish way to cremate. Instead of holding onto years-old guilt when she persuaded a family to bury rather than cremate their loved one, I hope Silverstein will consider that she did a good thing.
While it is sad and emotional, shoveling scoops of earth on top of our loved ones in the cemetery is one of the most Jewish things a person can do. To deny that to any Jew is a tremendous loss and disconnect from our peoplehood. May we know no more sorrow and live biz hundred un tzvantzik (until 120).
Rachel Steinerman | Bala Cynwyd