Tag Archives: #RBG

Biking for RBG

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the legal pioneer for gender equality and the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, died just before sundown on Rosh Hashanah, I shared the country’s grief. What could I do to honor this gutsy, determined, badass woman? How could we continue her legacy in light of what we knew as the inevitability of her replacement with a woman who appeared to be the antithesis of whom NPR called a “demure firebrand?”

Writing an article that was published by The Jewish World (“RBG’s death alarms and saddens Marilyn as she hopes for a better world.” 10/22/2020) helped me, but could I do more? 

A few days later, a friend shared a link to a website that offered a way to honor the feminist icon. Run for Ruth was billed a virtual event to “celebrate the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her dedication to equality for all no matter where we are right now.” Participants could run, jog, walk, or, as I later earned, even swim to reach a total 87 miles —the number that reflected RBG’s age when she passed away. In addition, one could choose to donate to several charities earmarked as those representing RBG’s legacy through their support of women’s rights and empowerment.

The $29 entrance fee entitled each participant to a tee shirt with a picture of RBG wearing a crown; a digital race bib; and a finisher’s medal. It also gave one access to a website which one could put in individual mileage, compare results with others involved, and even print out a virtual bib. The guidelines said that  a minimum of 30% of registration proceeds would go to charity.

With visions of RBG smiling down from heaven, I sent in my online registration fee; donated money to Planned Parenthood, one of the charity options; and logged in for my first virtual entry–the 20 mile bike ride I took the day after Rosh Hashanah and two days after her passing.

No matter how or with whom I would put in the miles, I knew from Day One that I could not make my goal just 87 miles. Since the pandemic had hit, I had swapped fitness classes for 7 a.m., swims in an outdoor pool and, accompanied by my husband Larry, long walks and longer bike rides. I had already put 1000 miles on my bike’s cyclometer. Based on this knowledge, I set my personal goal for 870 miles by  the January 31, 202, deadline.

About four weeks and 230 miles later, I received the Run for Ruth race packet in the mail. The finisher’s medal, a large metal medallion on a striped ribbon, was pretty impressive but, in my eyes, pretty useless. I couldn’t see when I would wear it and put it aside to give to my five year old granddaughter. 

The bigger disappointment was the tee shirt. I had ordered an adult size large, but fit like a child’s medium. I couldn’t even get it over my head. I gave it to my petite niece and found an even cooler RBG shirt on Etsey for myself. 

Now that the focus was off the perks, it was time for me to put my pedal to the metal. Larry was a great biking partner, pumping air into our bike tires as needed, mapping out routes that avoided traffic, and scheduling hydration stops along the way. Our two hour walks were filled with conversations about  the family, politics, books, and movies. 

By the middle of October, I was fully invested in what I now called my “Bike for Ruth.” We were averaging over 19 miles on our bikes and over 5 miles on our walks, along with one or two of my solo swims. Each day, I recorded my progress on the website and checked my results compared to fellow participants. 

Amazingly, 1376 people ranging in age from 5 to 81 from had signed up for the biking event. Predictably, many had not gone more than a few miles before dropping out. (Hope their tee shirts fit better than mine!). A couple of hundred had reached their goal of 87 and were done. But there were hundreds more who were still cycling along.

The results page not only gave names, miles, ages, hours expended, and home town but it also listed rankings. And guess who was in the top 60 and climbing! Not only was I moving up the chart, but I was one of the oldest riders.

True, I had several factors in my favor. Others were dealing with snow and school and jobs and the pandemic, forget about hills! Mrs.-Retired-in-Flat-Florida could pedal and walk and even swim to her heart’s content. And I had the spirit of RBG urging me on. I was getting closer and closer to my goal of 870.

One day, however, I noticed a fellow Floridian had slipped into the top 25. One entry. One day. 1067 miles. And this person was 75 years old! Impossible!

I decided the best way to handle what I considered an unacceptable entry is that could ride more miles.  I upped my personal goal from 870 to at least 1068. 

By this time, it was mid-December, and Larry was getting concerned. Florida was experiencing its winter, and it had turned colder, windier, and even rainier. Could we speed this process up, maybe get done by January 1?

We both pulled the Smart Wools, gloves, and nano-puff jackets we usually reserve for our trips to Colorado and soldiered on. I hit 870 on December 21 and 1068—Take That, 1067-in-One-Day— on January 4. 

At this point, Larry said that I was on my own. I cranked out another 300 miles and hit 1367 miles on the last day of the challenge. I finished in 10th place out of 1376, with the next person close to my age in 56th place.

I was waiting for the drum roll, or at least a shiny certificate in the mail. I would have waited for a long time. As you remember, I had gotten my “finisher’s medal” two weeks into the race. And the black and white 5X7 online certificate listed in big letters my name and time expended: 109 plus hours. In tiny letters was my rank and wrong age of 69. So I created my own tribute that I have displayed on my refrigerator. It reads.Marilyn Shapiro. 10th Place. 1367 Miles. 70 Years Old. Then I got back on my bike.After all, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 88th birthday would have been March 15. And I am good for at least 880 or so miles before my pandemic pedaling finally comes to an end.

First published in The Jewish World, March 4, 2021

Honor the Memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. VOTE!!!

I will never forget where I was when I heard of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing.

My husband Larry and I were in front of our computer, chatting with our fellow Congregation Shalom Aleichem members before our Rosh Hashanah Zoom service was to begin. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away,” interjected a member who had just gotten the breaking news on his phone.

All chatter stopped. Then there were murmurs of “Oh No!” “Oh my God!”

I was devastated. My heart turned cold as I thought about what will happen to our Supreme Court if the current administration pushed through another Conservative, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights individual. Larry saw my face and knew what I was thinking.

Impact
“It is Rosh Hashanah. For the next 24 hours, we take time to celebrate her life,” he told me. “We will worry about its impact later.”

Within hours of the announcement of her death Friday night, an outpouring of affection for the first Jewish woman appointed to the country’s highest court had already begun. People spontaneously gathered on the front steps of the Supreme Court building, where she had served as a judge for 27 years, bearing candles and singing Amazing Grace. In other places in the country, crowds gathered to say Kaddish, and to remember her. At Central Synagogue in New York City on Rosh Hashanah morning, Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl spoke at the virtual service from New York City’s Central Synagogue. She honored Justice Ginsburg in an eloquent spoken and musical tribute to “a real tzaddik, a woman of justice.” As pictures of the late justice’s life were displayed on the screen, the rabbi sang a beautiful rendition of Psalm 150 (Halleluhu / Praise God in His sanctuary) to the melody of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. I cry every time I watch it.

In the days that followed, I read many Jewish interpretations of the timing of Justice Ginsburg’s death. One midrash stated that Jews who dies between Rosh Hashanah is fast-tracked to heaven as they are true “tzaddikim,” people of great righteousness. With the fact that Rosh Hashanah fell on Sabbath this year, the significance is deemed to be even greater.

Replacement?
As  many Jews and non-Jews celebrated her life, however, Republicans were already planning her replacement. This incredible woman was not even cold when Trump announced that he would name his pick. His sycophants quickly fell into line. Forget that in 2016, President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland was blocked by many of the same Republicans. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” stated Mitch McConnell in March 2016. “Therefore, [Justice Anthony Scalia’s] vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” This did obviously did not hold true for the current administration.

What was even more disturbing to me was the president’s attempt to besmirch her legacy. Clara Spera, Justice Ginsburg’s granddaughter, had asked her ‘Bubbe’ in her last days if there was anything wanted to say to the public that hadn’t been said. Ginsburg stated, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” President Trump publicly suggested that the Democrats had fabricated Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish. “It sounds so beautiful,” said the president in an interview on Fox and Friends,” but that sounds like a Schumer deal, or maybe Pelosi or Shifty Schiff” (There is no limit to the depths of indecency this man can go.).

This afternoon, while I was writing this article, Senator Mitt Romney signaled that he is on board with the Senate’s taking up a new Supreme Court nominee during the current election year, an announcement that almost ensures the president’s pick will be confirmed. The news has hit me as hard as when Nov. 9, 2015, I learned that Donald J. Trump was to be our new president.

What Shall We Do?
“I am so, so sad,” I shared on my Facebook page. “Women’s rights will be gone. The Affordable Care Act will be on the chopping block. The election may come down to the Conservative, Trump-leaning Supreme Court. Goodness knows what is next.”

My daughter Julie Shapiro wrote a letter to her to her Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. By supporting another Trump-appointed justice, she told him that he and his cohorts are stealing the rights and protections of Americans, particularly those of women, immigrants, minorities, elderly and other vulnerable populations. Accusing him of being on “the wrong side of history,” Julie voiced her concern for her five-year-old daughter.“ It may take a generation or more but I hope someday my daughter’s daughter will live in a country that defends rather than undermines its democratic principles. A country that looks back ruefully but with relief for having overcome this chapter in which people like yourself snatched power from the deserving and flattered yourselves in your delusion that you were helping those that you continuously hurt.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a legal pioneer for gender equality and the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, has died. The possibility of a Supreme Court with a Conservative majority is becoming more of a certainty. Where do we go from here?

November 3 is coming quickly. Honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Keep hounding your representatives, even if many don’t appear to care for anything beyond their own self-interests. Work to get out the vote. Write postcards and letters. Participate in phone banks and texting sessions. And on November 3, vote as if your life and the lives of our children and grandchildren depend on it. And then on January 20, you can share my joy as we welcome a new, better day in America.

The Jewish World, September 22, 2020