Ruth Bader Ginsburg was inducted into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame in 2013, and this medal was designed to honor her work as a lawyer, professor, and Supreme Court Justice. A graduate of Cornell University and Columbia Law School, Ginsburg became a defender of women’s rights, fighting sex discrimination in the courts and establishing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project. She later served on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1993.
The obverse of this medal features Ginsburg’s visage, her signature jabot affixed to her collar, and text that reads “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” The reverse of the medal depicts Moses holding the Ten Commandments. The image is based on a sculpture on the eastern pediment of the United States Supreme Court building. Thus, this imagery refers to the Supreme Court and the centrality of law both in Ginsburg’s work and in Judaism. The medal also references a speech that Ginsburg gave in which she stated, “The demand for justice runs through the entirety of the Jewish tradition.” Ginsburg was the second female justice and first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court. She continues to serve on the Court and has become a pop culture icon due to her defense of the rights of women and minorities.
All fifty medals in the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, including the medal honoring Ginsburg, are on display at the Skirball Museum. The exhibition dates have been extended and Striking Medals will now be open through the end of July 2019.