El Maleh Rachamim (A Memorial to Ruth Bader Ginsburg) For Solo Violin by Gabriel Gordon


This is a memorial for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Besides being an advocate for woman, Justice Ginsburg was always known as a compassionate person, and as someone who was able to see, hear, and understand other points of view.

She was very close friends with Judge Antonin Scalia who was her intellectual opposite, and there were very few cases where they held the same point of view. She was a cellist, and loved going to the Opera, often with Justice Scalia and his family.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not only the first woman to lie In State, but also the first Jew to do so, partly because Jewish tradition for burial to take place as soon as possible, but also because there hasn’t been much opportunity in history for this to happen. This prayer, the El Melah Rachamim, was chanted at her funeral.

There are those that say she was a Tzaddik, or a Righteous One who died appropriately passed at the Jewish New Year.

Here is a translation of the prayer:

God, full of mercy, Who dwells above, give rest on the wings of the Divine Presence , amongst the holy, pure and glorious who shine like the sky, to the soul of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, memory of her soul. Therefore, the Merciful One will protect her soul forever, and will merge her soul with eternal life. The Everlasting is her heritage, and she shall rest peacefully at her lying place, and let us say: Amen.

I also add Ose Shalom Bimramov (a Prayer for peace) at the end.

It is sometimes added after the El Melah Rachamim, and I think we could all use this right now! Here is the translation for Ose Shalom: He who makes peace in his high places He shall make peace upon us And upon all of Israel And say Amen I arranged El Melah Rachamim in 2018 in reaction to the terrorist attacks against Jews in Paris, and performed it a few days later on a concert for NEXT Ensemble.

I wrote it from my memories of hearing the prayer many times growing up in various synagogues and settings. Releasing this on Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the year for Jews) to me is really special. A huge thanks to Congregation Brith Sholem in Ogden and Judi Amsel for letting me film in at the Synagogue.

The building is nearly 100 years old, but the congregation here goes back 150 years to the mid-1800’s, and so is one of the first Jewish congregations in Utah. Judi showed me that one of the founders of the congregation was a man named Ian Gordon, so I really felt at home there. Thank you RBG.