Grapevine: Ruth Bader Ginsburg refuses to bow to cancer

Many people have called for the ailing but feisty justice to retire, but so far she has resisted.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (photo credit: COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STAT)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Several American publications last week carried the good news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, is back at work She was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery in February 2009, and more recently had been treated for a malignant tumor.
Bader Ginsburg made an appearance at the National Book Festival sponsored by the Library of Congress where she dispelled fears that she was mortally ill.
To people who asked how she was feeling, the response was: “This audience can see that I’m alive and I am on my way to being very well.” She added that she loves her job, which has kept her going through four cancer bouts. “Instead of concentrating on my aches and pains, I just know that I have to read a set of briefs and go over a draft opinion. Somehow, I have to surmount whatever is going on in my body and concentrate on the court’s work.”
Many people have called for the ailing but feisty justice to retire, but so far she has resisted.
RBG also talked frankly about the secret to a good marriage, disclosing that when she first married, her mother-in-law took her aside and advised her that occasionally it’s a good thing to be a little deaf.
■ FELLOW OCTOGENARIAN Shaul Ladany, 83, professor emeritus at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, has been honored by the Forum of the Bergen-Belsen Memorial in Lohheide, Germany. A survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where he spent six months, Ladany is also a survivor of the 1972 Munich massacre. A champion race walker, Ladany was a member of the Israel Olympic team that lost 11 of its members in a terrorist attack during the 1972 Olympics.
A new exhibition in Bergen-Belsen under the title of “Life Lines: Persecution and survival as reflected in the Shaul Ladany Collection” tells the extraordinary story of his life. The exhibition went on view on the 47th anniversary of the Munich massacre, whose victims to this day have not been honored with a minute’s silence at the opening of the Olympic Games every two years.
Ladany has original documents related to both his persecution by the Nazis and to the terrorist attack in 1972. Prior to the current exhibition, these documents were never before placed on public view. Ladany was deported from Hungary to Bergen-Belsen with his family in 1944. He was only eight years old. He saw his father beaten by the SS, and lost most of his family there. He himself actually stood in the gas chamber, when he got a reprieve, for which he has no explanation. He was one of the few Jewish prisoners who were saved through negotiations with the SS conducted by Hungarian and Swiss Jewish organizations, and were able to travel to Switzerland in December 1944.
As an athlete, Ladany set the 50-mile walk world record, which is still unbroken. In 1972, he won the 100-kilometer walk World Championship, was awarded the Baron Pierre de Coubertin medal by the International Olympic Committee for his “unusual outstanding sports achievements during a span covering over four decades” and is included in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
As an academic, Ladany was a chaired professor of industrial engineering at BGU and served as chairman of the Department of Industrial Engineering before his retirement. He was awarded the Life Achievement Award in Industrial Engineering by the Israeli institutions that have industrial engineering programs.
Although he has retired from teaching, he continues to race walk.
■ JEWISH VISITORS to Lithuania this month may be interested in visiting the old Piramont Jewish Cemetery on Monday, September 23, for National Memorial Day for the Genocide of the Lithuanian Jews. There will also be a tour of the Vilna Ghetto and a meeting with a survivor. No less important will be a seminar at the Vilna Marriott Hotel to discuss the possibility of preventing the government from building on the cemetery grounds, in which the relatives of 235 plaintiffs are buried. Among the speakers will be Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Rabbi Orin Reich, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira and Rabbi Asher Arielli. Plaintiff families include Elyashiv, Shternbruch, Levine, Soloveitchik, Finkel, Segal and more. For full details contact Although Lithuania has done much to restore the memory of Jewish life in that country, it sometimes seems to be more concerned with the dead past than the sensitivities of the living Jewish community.
■ IT WOULD be interesting for some mathematician, statistician or economist to figure out how many productive hours are wasted in the waiting game for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bibi loyalists will shrug it off, but the fact of the matter is that Netanyahu has a habit of coming late to many meetings and events. It’s true that he as an overcrowded schedule, so the blame is not entirely his, but that of members of his staff who schedule many of his appointments for him. Nonetheless, when he turns up hours after a pre-announced time, it comes to an awful lot of productive waste on the part of people waiting for him. And they are not just waiting for him from the time stated on the invitation or the advertisement. They’ve been there an hour earlier due to security precautions. But that’s not the only productive waste, because anyone who objects to twiddling their thumbs for so long has the choice of leaving or of not showing up at all. But people going to work each day and having to pass an intersection near the Prime Minister’s Residence, often have to wait for a fair amount of time until his motorcade passes. Again, it’s not his fault, and it would probably be a lot easier if the police didn’t make a fuss, and the prime minister simply traveled in an unmarked bulletproof car. But no, vehicles pile up block after block until the motorcade has passed. Just how much of a burden is that to the economy?
■ JUDGING BY the number and variety of events that were held in Israel on September 11, it would seem that the public has forgotten the enormity of destruction and loss of life since the terror attacks in the US 18 years ago.
The Americans here do not forget the thousands of victims who, as occurs annually here, were commemorated by the US Embassy in conjunction with the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), and the Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF). The commemoration ceremony took place alongside the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza, which is the only one outside of the US to include all the names of the victims, and reflects the shared values of Israel, the United States and the entire free world for peace and unity, and against terror.
Among those attending the ceremony were US Ambassador David Friedman; Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie; KKL-JNF Vice Chairman Yair Lootsteen; JNF-USA Chief Israel Officer Eric Michaelson and other guests from the US and Israel including United Airlines pilots, firefighters and police officers, and representatives from JNF-USA and Nefesh B’Nefesh, along with Israeli families who lost loved ones in the attack, ambassadors and other diplomats.
The memorial was established in 2009 by KKL-JNF and JNF-USA. The impressive 9-meter tall bronze sculpture was created by Israeli artist Eliezer Weishoff and KKL-JNF’s landscape architect Yechiel Cohen. It comprises the American flag folded into the shape of a memorial flame. A metal shard from the ruins of the Twin Towers is incorporated into the base of the monument, which overlooks a magnificent vista of the Jerusalem Hills and the Arazim Valley.
This year’s memorial ceremony included the lighting in the evening of September 10 of two beams soaring up to a height of 300 meters and infusing light over a large sector of the city, in a similar fashion to that of the lights from Ground Zero in New York.
At the actual ceremony the following day, Friedman said: “We stood together in solidarity on 9/11 and we knew that terrorism could not defeat us. Standing here today at this beautiful memorial, we all recall that terrible day in 2001 and we honor the memory of the victims. In their honor, let us also reaffirm our sense of solidarity and commitment to our most cherished values. That will be the lasting legacy of 9/11.”
In similar vein, Lootsteen said: “This monument is a symbol of flourishing, of life, of continuity and of the strong bond that KKL-JNF and Israel as a whole hold with the US. Here we choose, each year, to take an oath to those who perished – to do all we can to build an even better tomorrow for future generations.”
Yael Levontin, JNF-USA affiliates director stated: “We established this memorial site as a message to the world, that we are here, in solidarity and unity.”