CNN made a bold statement about Ivanka Trump on Twitter, claiming “she is undeniably America’s most powerful Jewish woman,” and sharing a story about her. Today, we beg to differ, along with Imani Gandy, a Senior Legal Analyst at Rewire News.
Here is the Tweet from CNN:
“Ivanka Trump has spoken little about her faith, but she is undeniably America’s most powerful Jewish woman”
The response from Imani Gandy doesn’t mince words:
“… the f*ck she is. Three words: Ruth. Bader. Ginsberg.”
Gandy’s indignant response received 86K likes (as of this writing) and over a thousand comments. Obviously, many people are in agreement with Gandy. The “Notorious RBG” definitely wins the court of popular opinion. After all, she rose to the SCOTUS from humble beginnings as a Jewish woman of no wealth at all. She began her career in the 50s when most women and minorities struggled against an oppressive society and rose through it on merit.
The Jewish Women’s Archive has a special place for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the first Jewish woman — and the second woman ever — appointed to the SCOTUS and her extraordinary life.
She was born on March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were both Jewish, but her mother was native-born and her father immigrated from Russia at 13 years old. Neither had the means to attend college but taught Ruth to “love learning, to care about people, and to work hard” for what she wanted in life, which she certainly did.
She landed a scholarship to Cornell University, from which she graduated from with high honors in government. Later she attended Harvard Law School, as one of only nine women in her class of five hundred. She transferred to Columbia Law School to join her husband and tied for first in her class when she graduated.
Despite her credentials, she struggled to find a job in the 50s, being both a woman and Jewish:
“In the fifties, the traditional law firms were just beginning to turn around on hiring Jews. … But to be a woman, a Jew, and a mother to boot, that combination was a bit much” (Gilbert and Moore, p. 158).
She obviously managed to succeed despite the adversity she faced. Her career progressed, and she was recognized with an honorary doctorate from the University of Lund in Sweden. She was hired as faculty at Rutgers, one of the only law schools hiring women faculty in the 60s. Still, she was worried her pregnancy would cost her the job, but she went on to work on women’s rights issues, which eventually landed her a position at Columbia Law School –the very first tenured woman on the faculty.
Her outstanding work focused on gender discrimination and constitutional law. She earned recognition, and in 1980, President Carter appointed her to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. President Clinton then nominated her to be an associate justice on the SCOTUS in 1993. She has gone on to influence America to protect women’s rights as well as all minority Americans, a true heroine for untold millions of people.
During her confirmation hearings, Senator Edward Kennedy asked her about her personal experiences and how they would affect her sensitivity to cases of racial discrimination. She responded:
Senator Kennedy, I am alert to discrimination. I grew up during World War II in a Jewish family. I have memories as a child, even before the war, of being in a car with my parents and passing a place in [Pennsylvania], a resort with a sign out in front that read: “No dogs or Jews allowed.” Signs of that kind existed in this country during my childhood. One couldn’t help but be sensitive to discrimination living as a Jew in America at the time of World War II. (U.S. Congress, p. 139)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg rose to the position she holds due to merit, due to tenacity, intelligence and her refusal to let this world stay a place where there are signs that say “no dogs or Jews allowed.”
First Daughter Ivanka Trump arrived at her current position of power in a totally different way: She was placed there by her wealthy father to take up the position of unpaid advisor. Even the article lauding her power calls her “characteristically cautious” in her approach to Donald’s administration, given the “Alt-Right” and anti-Semitic empowerment we’ve seen in America.
Ivanka converted to Judaism after she married her husband Jared Kushner. Her family connections do put her in a good position to influence the administration to take on a more empathetic tone towards women and minorities. Yet this week America is in shock over Trump’s decision to put Jeff Sessions on television to publicly rescind DACA, throwing hundreds of thousands of American lives into a state of panic and uncertainty. Ivanka’s power to help avert this sort of crisis certainly seems subdued at best.
We’ll have to agree that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg trumps Ivanka for the most powerful Jewish woman in America. There doesn’t seem to be much debate really, though we do wonder how much worse things would be had Ivanka and her Jewish family not taken up a large spot in her father’s cruel heart.