Recently, the Rose Project, a part of the Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County, hosted a wonderful evening at Temple Bat Yahm in Irvine with Supreme Court Justice (Emerita) Dalia Dorner. Justice Dorner served on the highest court of Israel from 1993-2004, and is known as “an avowed feminist and ardent defender of civil and human rights.” She is also the current president of the Israeli Press Council, which she takes tremendous pride in.
You could see the way people lit up by just being near her. As I timidly made my way toward her to introduce myself, it was then Justice Dorner who lit up when I told her why I was there that evening.
“You’re in publishing?” she inquired. I responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes, I work for Jlife magazine.” She grabbed my hand, held it tight and said, “What you’re doing is very important. Never forget that. Believe me, I know.” And then she gave me a wry smile and giggled.
“Drop the mic.” I was done. Here I was, standing next to a Supreme Court Justice (Emerita), who has championed freedom of speech and devoted much of her career to the protection of civil and human rights… and she was giving me a compliment? She was validating my work? I was gob smacked. What an incredibly gracious and humble gesture. That set the tone of the evening. She was approachable and relatable…she shared her knowledge of the Israeli government, the foundation of democracy and the importance of free speech. And she managed to present all of this information in a digestible manner and with a sprinkle of wry wit.
Some additional highlights were the stories she shared about her long-time friendship with United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It was fascinating to get an inside glimpse of the relationship between two such extraordinary women and their simultaneous ascension up the judicial ranks of their respective countries. Especially interesting were the stories about Justice Ginsberg being so tight with Justice Scalia—may he rest in peace—and the debates the two of them used to have. They had very different points of view, but according to Justice Dorner, Justice Ginsberg thought Justice Scalia was lovely and always “quite charming.” She didn’t let their opposing views get in the way of a wonderful friendship and she respected his opinions.
And that is the overall feeling Justice Dorner imparted upon me that evening as well. Dalia Dorner is a judge who is highly principled and stands by her convictions, yet just like her friend “Ruth,” she is also a woman that can see the value in what each of us has to offer. This is a person who listens, and we could all take a page from her book.
For more information on the Rose Project’s Distinguished Lecture Series please contact Lisa Armony at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit jewishorangecounty.org/get-involved/college.
Tracey Armstrong Gorsky is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.