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Rochester Jewish leaders react to historic RBG honor

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- In a lifetime spent making history, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is imprinting her name on history one last time.

"I think everybody, particularly in the Jewish world was proud of her accomplishments and everything she achieved in her lifetime," said B'nai Israel Synagogue Rabbi Michelle Werner.

It's those accomplishments that lead RBG to not only become the first woman, but also the first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. Since the tradition began in 1852, just 38 people, including Ginsburg have been so honored.

"Her service to this country was unparalleled," Werner said.

The honor is a reminder to Werner that there is still good in the world.

"We're all focused on how we are so divided these days and how things are not how they should be," Werner said. "There are milestones that remind us that we have not completely lost our soul as a country. And we still know how to honor people when they serve us whether or not we agree with them."

Werner said while this milestone is important, it's also important to remember the past.

"I think we hear all the time how important it is that young people just assume its normal that people of every race can be honored, people of every race can be president or any gender can grow up to be Supreme Court Justices," said Werner. "So, the fact that we normalize something that should have been normal years ago it makes things fall into stride for young people. And it's particularly interesting that you have to remember now when that wasn't the case. And our young people just think that's always been so."

"Anti-Semitism is becoming too prevalent and too acceptable in this country," she continued. "So, the question is where are we now, in terms of remembering and honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but are we headed towards a time five years from now that a Jewish woman on the Supreme Court would become impossible. Time doesn't only go forward as time has shown."

As the Jewish new year begins with Ginsburg's death, the coincidence of events holds even more meaning for the Jewish community.

"There's a beautiful tradition," Werner said.

The tradition, beginning on Rosh Hashanah, allows ten days of reflection ahead of Yom Kippur, the 'day of atonement.'

"God knows at the beginning of the last Rosh Hashanah they are not going to get another year," Werner added. "But at the virtue of their righteousness, God waits until the very last minute and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died 15 minutes before the new year observance. The very last moment. So, in the Jewish tradition, that is an indication of her righteousness and the righteousness of her soul."

Rosa Parks was also honored at the U.S. Capitol, but did not officially lie in state. That's because she was not a military veteran or stateswoman.

Former Minnesota senator and vice president Hubert H. Humphrey laid in state in 1978.

Beret Leone

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