Passover is nigh and the Notorious R.B.G. has spoken.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has released a supplementary Seder reading highlighting the role of women in the Exodus narrative. Ginsburg—who is the first Jewish woman ever appointed to the Court—decided to contribute a feminist perspective after being asked by a Jewish nonprofit to write on social justice and Passover. Below is an excerpt of her essay, which was co-written with Washington D.C.’s Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt:

The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.

The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of Genesis, opens in pervasive darkness. Genesis describes the earth as “unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.” In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women.


These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day.

Read the essay