Our Mothers Ourselves

Celia Amster Bader – "The Bravest and Strongest Person I Have Known." - RBG

September 21, 2020 Jane Sherron De Hart Season 2 Episode 6
Our Mothers Ourselves
Celia Amster Bader – "The Bravest and Strongest Person I Have Known." - RBG
Chapters
Our Mothers Ourselves
Celia Amster Bader – "The Bravest and Strongest Person I Have Known." - RBG
Sep 21, 2020 Season 2 Episode 6
Jane Sherron De Hart


In the wake of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, Katie takes a close look at the influence her mother, Celia Amster Bader, had on her daughter.

Katie interviews Jane Sherron de Hart, a historian and professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara.

Celia was the daughter of immigrants who came to the United States in 1901 to flee the pogroms that were taking place across Eastern Europe. Celia and her sister, Sadie, were deprived of a college education not just because of a lack of money, but because of traditional assumptions about the place of women. "Jewish families commonly sacrificed the futures of their daughters to ensure that a son might attend a prestigious school and enter a high-status profession," wrote Dr. De Hart, in her 2018 biography, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life. (2018).

Celia and her husband, Nathan, settled in New York, eventually moving to the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, where Ruth grew up.

In her June 14, 1993 speech in the White House Rose Garden after being nominated for The U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said this:

"I have a last thank you. It is to my mother, Celia Amster Bader, the bravest and strongest person I have known, who was taken from me much too soon. I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons."

Celia died in 1950, at age 47. Ruth was just 17. 


Don't forget to visit us at ourmothersourselves.com. And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.

Music composed and performed by
Andrea Perry.
Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)
Producer: Alice Hudson
Intern: Rosie Manock (@RosieManock)



Show Notes Transcript


In the wake of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, Katie takes a close look at the influence her mother, Celia Amster Bader, had on her daughter.

Katie interviews Jane Sherron de Hart, a historian and professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara.

Celia was the daughter of immigrants who came to the United States in 1901 to flee the pogroms that were taking place across Eastern Europe. Celia and her sister, Sadie, were deprived of a college education not just because of a lack of money, but because of traditional assumptions about the place of women. "Jewish families commonly sacrificed the futures of their daughters to ensure that a son might attend a prestigious school and enter a high-status profession," wrote Dr. De Hart, in her 2018 biography, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life. (2018).

Celia and her husband, Nathan, settled in New York, eventually moving to the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, where Ruth grew up.

In her June 14, 1993 speech in the White House Rose Garden after being nominated for The U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said this:

"I have a last thank you. It is to my mother, Celia Amster Bader, the bravest and strongest person I have known, who was taken from me much too soon. I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons."

Celia died in 1950, at age 47. Ruth was just 17. 


Don't forget to visit us at ourmothersourselves.com. And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.

Music composed and performed by
Andrea Perry.
Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)
Producer: Alice Hudson
Intern: Rosie Manock (@RosieManock)



Ruth Bader Ginsburg :

I have a last thank you. It is to my mother Celia Amster Bader, the bravest and strongest person I have known who was taken from me much too soon. I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons.

Katie Hafner :

Hello, and welcome to Our Mothers Ourselves. I'm Katie Hafner, and I'm your host. Our collective heart broke last Friday with news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. She didn't just spend decades fighting for women's equality, but she believed deeply in the transformational power of the law. She believed in giving back to society even when you don't have much, and she believed in what one person, a woman in the 1950s could do. And throughout her life, she was completely and unapologetically herself. It makes you wonder, where did all that come from? Much of the answer lies in these words: Celia Amster Bader, RBG's mother. She was brilliant. She was strict. She advised her daughter to be a lady, to have a career, the key to independence, and that daughter adored her. To help shed some light on what made Celia who she was, I'm talking today to Jane Sherron de Hart. She's a professor emeritus at UC Santa Barbara, who spent 15 years working on her Ginsburg biography. In 2008, her house burned down in a wildfire, and her manuscript was destroyed. Luckily, Justice Ginsburg had a copy that she had been marking up and the book was published in 2018. The title is Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life. Jane Sherron de Hart, I'd like to thank you so much for coming on to Our Mothers Ourselves to talk to me about Celia Amster Bader.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

I'm delighted to do it.

Katie Hafner :

I thought that we would get a little bit of help in piecing together Celia's life from Justice Ginsburg herself from the very beginning of her confirmation hearing in 1993:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg :

I am as you know, from our responses to your questionnaire, a Brooklynite born and bred, a first generation American on my father's side, barely second generation on my mother's.

Katie Hafner :

When she said barely second generation on my mother's, she's talking about Celia's?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Celia was conceived in Europe, and born in the United States.

Katie Hafner :

There's a photograph of Celia's tombstone. The tombstone says she was born in May of 1902. But then, the document next to it says she was born on the Fourth of July of 1902. Do you know which one is correct?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

No, I don't. I wasn't even aware of the discrepancy.

Katie Hafner :

Can you imagine if she really was born that's just, just for fun? Let's assume she...

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Imagine she was born on the Fourth of July.

Katie Hafner :

Why not? I think what I might do is post the photograph that shows the discrepancy and see if someone wants to pipe up and say no, no, it was this date. Yes. Tell me about Celia's parents and where they were from.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

They were from a little village near what is now Krakow, Poland. They moved to New York, and they lived on the Lower East Side. And her father, I think, was a cabinet maker and Celia was the smartest. He had a son and three daughters.

Katie Hafner :

I'm going to interrupt you for one second to talk about the reason the Jews from Eastern Europe were coming in the first place and here's our second little assist from RBG:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg :

Their parents had the foresight to leave the old country when Jewish ancestry and faith meant exposure to pogroms and denigration of one's human worth.

Katie Hafner :

So they were fleeing the pogroms of that were...

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes.

Katie Hafner :

So, they came across, I'm assuming they didn't travel first class on anything.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

No, I'm sure they did not. Sadie was the oldest, Celia was next, and Bernice was the youngest, but Celia was the smartest.

Katie Hafner :

So there she was. She was the smartest in the family. She had a brother named Saul who was older than her or younger?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes, Saul was older.

Katie Hafner :

So since she was the smartest, her dad had her do all the bookkeeping for the business. Is that right?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes.

Katie Hafner :

And so she would mix. I love this she would mix Yiddish and English in the books when she was uh notating, she would say something like one cabinet go fix?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Exactly.

Katie Hafner :

I mean, the tragedy of Celia, is that although she was the smartest, she did not get the formal education.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Well, in Jewish families, it was traditional immigrant families you choose the eldest son and the whole family invests in his education. The assumption was that if you could educate the son, then he could sort of pull up the rest of the family economically.

Katie Hafner :

And so with Celia not getting the education that she probably wanted and Sol going off to Cornell, which will play into the story later, Celia, she was a bookworm. She had her nose buried in books so often that she'd be walking down the street with a book, her nose buried in a book and once she tripped and broke her nose?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes.

Katie Hafner :

That's just a wonderful story. And then, so in some time, at some point in the 1920s, so let's see if she was born in 1902. So, around in her early 20s, she married a man named Nathan Bader. What you said in the book is that he really was drawn to her because she was attractive. Yes, but also very smart, which gets echoed later, when when Ruth met her husband, right?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes, because Marty was the only person she ever dated. She said, who cared whether I had a brain?

Katie Hafner :

Right. So there's her mother's Celia, Ruth's mother, Celia, marries Nathan. And then they had a daughter in 1927 named Marilyn. And then the depression came. And they had to put off having children, but finally had Ruth.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Ruth said that she thinks she was an accident.

Katie Hafner :

Oh, interesting.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

I did not put that in the book.

Katie Hafner :

Well, did she elaborate?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

No, she didn't.

Katie Hafner :

Did she say it with a smile?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

I don't recall. She was pretty serious. She's pretty serious. But she says she's pretty sure it was an accident, that they really couldn't have afforded to have another child.

Katie Hafner :

Thank goodness they did, right?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Thank goodness they did.

Katie Hafner :

So, they have this perhaps accidental baby and named her Joan Ruth, but then drop, Joan, because so many other babies were being named Joan at the time?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes, yes. in first grade. I think at first grade, they dropped it because there were so many other Joan Ruths.

Katie Hafner :

But then there's a tragedy when Marilyn was how old?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Marilyn was six. And Ruth was two. Marilyn developed spinal meningitis and dies. And the family is absolutely devastated. I think her father had a penchant for depression. Anyway, Ruth could recall so many times her mother would say, sit in your dad's lap and see if you can cheer him up. Ruth, she used the phrase, the smell of death, she said, I grew up with the smell of death. Now, it can't be the smell, literally. But she was extremely conscious of Marilyn's death. And in fact the large picture of Marilyn hung over her parents bed. And in some ways, I think Ruth benefited because Celia was absolutely determined that she was going to keep this little girl alive. And that she was going to devote all this energy to bringing her up and helping to, you know, shape the character and personality of Ruth.

Katie Hafner :

Which she did in many ways. And so let's bear in mind this, what I call the education thread, were women of a certain generation, when they're talking about their mothers, or their mothers' mothers who just didn't get a formal education and therefore, really, were determined to give their daughters what they didn't get.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Absolutely.

Katie Hafner :

So we have Celia determined to have her now only surviving child not just her daughter, but her only surviving child to give her the education she didn't get. And they have these. What you describe as their Friday afternoon adventures?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Oh yes. Well, Celia would every Friday, Celia would go to a little beauty shop to have her hair done. And they would also go to the library. And when Ruth got old enough for Celia to leave her at the library, while she was having her hair done, then Ruth would pour over the book she wanted to check out and Ruth's fondest memories are of sitting in her mother's lap with Celia reading to her. Ruth aparently learned to read before she was actually in the first grade. That's my assumption, given what she began reading right away.

Katie Hafner :

So there she was a very precocious reader, she and her mom would go to the beauty salon and also to the library, and Celia also really wanted her daughter to have music in her life. And so she, she had, she insisted on three hours of practice of at the piano.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

As Celia was, Ruth has often used the word, demanding. Celia was a very, she says a loving but strict mother. And Celia went to every effort to expose her daughter to the arts and to music and one grade Ruth skipped because she was so bright, and she had not learned how to do long, I believe it was long division. And so she got, when she skipped a grade, she got to B on math and Celia had no sympathy for that. And Ruth vowed that she would never get a B again.

Katie Hafner :

She said the entire family went into mourning when the B arrived on the report card. Celia and Nathan raising their child in Flatbush in Brooklyn, and Celia and her sister Bernice for Ruth's birthday, Ruth didn't get to celebrate a normal birthday.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

No.

Katie Hafner :

But they would, they would go off to the The Pride of Judea Orphanage.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Well, Bernice and Celia would buy these blocks of ice cream and take them to the orphanage and it was Celia's way of teaching Ruth both about Tzedacah, about charity and empathy. Because Ruth, remember Ruth saying very distinctly, she wanted to have a birthday party, like other children did, but she could see that how happy the children at the orphanage were and convinced her that that was the right thing to do.

Katie Hafner :

This Jewish notion of Tikkun Olam, of repairing the world...

Jane Sherron De Hart :

...in the world.

Katie Hafner :

I think that was instilled in her when she was quite young. And this, these trips to the orphanage were all part of that

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Part of that alone with the stories that her mother kept telling her about Jewish women of valor and emphasizing of people like Lillian Wall, you know, did the Henry street settlement in the Lower East Side and, and Celia would tell Ruth these stories about women like Wall as a, as an example of Jewish women who were adhering to that injunction to repair the world, and the actions which they were engaging in to do it. And there was always an emphasis on not just the injunction, but the action.

Katie Hafner :

And she was a big admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Oh yes, she read Eleanor Roosevelt's column in the Brooklyn Eagle every day. She emphasized how important it was for a woman of Eleanor Roosevelt's prominence and position to use her voice on behalf of people who did not have a voice and to speak for the disadvantaged. Ruth used her notoriety as the notorious RBG and a perfect example of that, in which she, sort of a foil, deliberate foil to Trump was she requested, as a sitting member of the Supreme Court to administer the naturalization oath to a group of new immigrants in New York, and she came arrayed in her full robe, and in a color, it was a ceramic color that was notable for all its bright, different colors, its diversity. She began with a personal note about her father, uh, had arrived in the United States at 13 years old, from the Odessa with no ability to speak English, and no money. And she talked about the importance of immigrants and then proceeded to the development of the country. And then she talked about, and this was a deliberate foil to Trump's, you know, Make America Great Again. Then she gave them a little civics lesson, a little history lesson about all the problems that beset the 13 colonies when they became a new nation, and all the obstacles against their success. The problems even in the Constitution in terms of women and blacks. The United States was exceptional, but only in its emphasis on improvement. She talked about the fact the United States was still a very imperfect country.

Katie Hafner :

I'm so glad you brought this up because I want to play for you the next clip of her confirmation hearing in 1993:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg :

What has become of me could happen only in America. Like so many others, I owe so much to the entry this nation afforded to people yearning to breathe free.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Emma Lazarus was also one of her mother's women of valor. She's quoting in part from Emma Lazarus' inscription at the Statue of Liberty.

Katie Hafner :

Let's fast forward a little bit to when Celia has, is watching Ruth go through school very happily, with the exception of that B and then something really tragic happens when Celia gets sick.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Right. She's diagnosed with cervical cancer. Ruth's freshman year in high school.

Katie Hafner :

Oh, gosh. And so, Ruth went through high school with her mother being very sick. And in those days, so we're talking about the 1940s, the late 40s. I think radiation was at the time kind of standard of care, right?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

I think she had some surgery too.

Katie Hafner :

And then Celia spoke very openly with her daughter about her illness. And when she was dying, she spoke openly about that fact as well. Is that true?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes, that is absolutely true. And this is unusual because cancer was at that period, people didn't want to admit to having cancer. It was sort of a source of shame. People didn't speak openly about it and Celia never ever told any of her high school friends.

Katie Hafner :

Oh, you mean Ruth never told her high school friends?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes.

Katie Hafner :

So, Ruth carried this burden internally. And then when she was home with her mother, there was her mother very ill and she even missed, Ruth missed her high school graduation. Because her mother died. The day of the graduation?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

I think the night before.

Katie Hafner :

But Celia did live to see Ruth get accepted to college. Tell me about that.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

She did. The family, Bernice and the rest of the family wanted Ruth to go to Barnard because they were all worried about Nathan, her father, who as I said, my take on all of this was that Celia was sort of the glue that held the family and his business together and the business was having this hard time after World War II because department stores were, you know, becoming much more popular, much, much more ubiquitous.

Katie Hafner :

He was in the the retail business?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

A small, inexpensive fur retail business.

Katie Hafner :

Mm hmm. Which his father had had?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Which his father had had. And, uh, when Celia died, Nathan declared bankruptcy. And this was when Ruth, at that point, was the summer before she entered Cornell.

Katie Hafner :

She didn't go to Barnard.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

She, no, the family wanted her to go to Barnard, but Nathan's, the grief over Celia's death. And Nathan's depression was so sort of overwhelming that she felt she had to get away. However, she felt very guilty about it. And that's where the story of Celia's college savings come in.

Katie Hafner :

So, Celia had saved what was it $8,000

Jane Sherron De Hart :

$8,000, which was a lot at that time because she knew that Nathan could never afford really to send Ruth to college. And she was determined that her daughter would not go to a subway school. She was going off to a real, quote, real college. So she's scrupulous. She had these savings in the, because banks so many banks failed during the Depression. She had the savings and various banks, but they amounted to $8,000. And they were meant for Ruth's college education. And when Ruth, Ruth accepted to Cornell at Cornell, but she was so worried about her father and felt such incredible guilt about leaving him. So Ruth, she had a fellowship. And she took a small amount of the $8,000 out that she would need to bridge her fellowship earnings. And she would also plan to get jobs at Cornell, which she did the entire time she was there. And she gave the rest of the money to her father.

Katie Hafner :

It is fascinating because you've got Celia, I mean, who knows what Celia's mother was, like, in terms of Celia, but my guess is that she was, just went along with the men who said no education for you, because Saul's getting the education. And then Celia did not want to repeat that with Ruth. She made sure Ruth got an education. I wanted to play one thing for you, which I find so amazing. You've talked quite a bit about, about the fact that Celia wanted Ruth, said two things to Ruth. And let me just play this for you:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg :

She had two lessons that she repeated over and over: be a lady and be independent. Be a lady meant don't allow yourself to be overcome by useless emotions, like anger. And by independent, she meant it would be fine if you met prince charming and lived happily ever after, but be able to fend for yourself.

Katie Hafner :

This idea of fending for yourself.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

While it's a reflection of Nathan's inability to really earn a secure, adequate living.

Katie Hafner :

Mm.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

And Celia also liked working. That's the bottom line.

Katie Hafner :

Remind me what she did. What her work was.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

She was an accountant. She was an accountant for furrier in the garment district.

Katie Hafner :

She did that for years until-

Jane Sherron De Hart :

-until she married and then it was a mark of respectability if you did not have a working wife.

Katie Hafner :

Exactly. Did he remarry after Celia died?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Oh, no.

Katie Hafner :

So she was the love of his life.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes. And the real, the dynamic force in the family. That was very clear.

Katie Hafner :

How many times did you interview Ruth?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Oh, I guess altogether, I think nine times. And the initial interviews were very long, because she would invite me to come to the Supreme Court on the Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend at four o'clock. And sometimes we would finish at seven, or even eight. So these were quite long interviews. And they weren't easy interviews, because in the beginning, she was, we started off actually not talking about her background at all. And I wasn't primarily interested in that I was interested in her litigation for the ACLU. And she was happy to talk about cases. But then, one year, when I called up to make an appointment, I said, let's talk about, I'd like to talk about Flatbush. And she bristled, she said, we don't need to talk about Flatbush.

Katie Hafner :

Meaning when you said Flatbush, was your upbringing, your childhood?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes. Yes. I said, we need to talk about the Flatbush years. And she really bristled. And she said, no, we don't. They aren't relevant. And I said, well, Ruth I think it's very important to have accurate facts. And I said, I've read articles in which your mother died of breast cancer, as opposed to cervical cancer. And I gave her several examples of kinds of discrepancies. And I said, I really think it's important to have the record straight. And she said, I'll give you half an hour. And I thought to myself, yes, I'm paying out of pocket a ticket from California to Washington for a half an hour. But I said, I certainly didn't say that out loud. I said, that's fine. And when we finished, I said, Ruth, why don't I write up this interview and send it to you and you can make any corrections. I cannot tell you how many years of annual visits it took me to get the information for that first chapter. What she was willing to talk about Celia, but she did not want to talk about her father because she just would not talk about her father, except to say, he was a quiet, gentle man, about whom she felt clearly, felt protective. And so I asked about Marty's father. Oh, and she opened up and she talked about how much she adored Marty's father talked about how when they lived on the edge of a country club that they couldn't belong and how he had been involved in establishing the first Jewish Country Club, how he'd worked his way up from stock boy to head of the company he was in. And it became very clear to me in talking about Marty's, Marty's father. And, you know, I could see that the contrast and so I pointed out this, in the ways in which Marty's family really filled in and became her family.

Katie Hafner :

And let's talk about the place of women in the Jewish tradition. Celia was not sent to college, not only because the money wasn't there, but because of the place of women in Judaism. And one of the things that's so poignant in the book is when you describe the Kaddish and when they were sitting Shiva.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Yes.

Katie Hafner :

Tell me about that whole thing and how that really turned Ruth around.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Let me start with Celia's funeral. Celia, as I had mentioned, had always talked about women and accomplishment and their actions toward your bed, which would repair the world and when she died of course, Sadie, who was extreme, the oldest sister, Celia's older sister who had been born in Europe was an extremely observant, Orthodox Jew. Celia, and Nathan, less so. But I remember Ruth and I had a long discussion as to exactly how to describe them, because they weren't rigidly orthodox. But they weren't secular. And so I simply described what Jewish observances they kept rituals and all that they kept intact, and wound up doing it that way. But it was very clear when Celia died that Sadie was, you know, it's going to be an orthodox funeral. And, as Ruth said, of course, wasn't, they sat Shiva, Minyan had to be composed of entirely men.

Katie Hafner :

And by Minyan, just for listeners who don't know, aren't familiar with the concept-

Jane Sherron De Hart :

-the group who leads the prayers.

Katie Hafner :

Mm hmm.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

The, the prayers that are appropriate to say upon the death of an individual.

Katie Hafner :

The saying of Kaddish.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

The saying of Kaddish, yes. And the, you had to have a Minyan composed of men in the Orthodox tradition, to say the Kaddish and the sitting Shiva can have a very healing element, because it also involves talking about every night, about the person who has died. It can ease some of the pain. But for Ruth, it was quite the opposite, because she felt it was a front to see his memory, to have only men saying the Kaddish and she was absolutely powerless to do anything about it. So, there was no recourse but to go ahead with it. And that was followed, obviously by Ruth, a Celia's death, by Nathan's business collapse, and the synagogue to which the beggars belong, Nathan was unable to pay his dues. So he lost his seat and felt that was a further affront to her father's pride.

Katie Hafner :

Unbelievable.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

She felt that this was not what Judaism was supposed to be. That was really the end of it for her. In fact, she never observed Yom Kippur until she was appointed to the Supreme Court. And she felt she had to sort of set an example. But there's a nice ending to this story. And that is Ruth's daughter Jane married a Catholic and Ruth and Marty were fine with it. They liked the young man very much, liked him much better than some of the Jewish boys Jane had dated over the years. Jane's daughter, Clara Spera and both children were exposed to both faiths and Ruth was very proud of that the daughter Clara decided that she was going to be Jewish and that she was going to be an observant Jew. And so Ruth was telling this story, but I was interviewing her this time at her apartment. This was after Marty had died. And she was staying there. Clara was staying with Ruth, and it was time for Rosh Hashanah. And Clara said, Bubby, we have to go to the synagogue. And Ruth said, I inquired about my neighbors in the Watergate, the Watergate, as to where we might go because I had no idea and she said they've recommended a synagogue in which the Rabbi was female. The Cantor who was female, Ruth describes this and she said, I couldn't believe it. She said women were going up to the Bema. There was a woman Rabbi, there was a woman Cantor, etcetra. And she finished talking about this experience and her voice so defated and, and she said, what she was talking about how impressed she was. I felt she was thinking, if I had had access to this, things would have turned out differently for me, but I felt it that Clara Spera was bringing it full circle.

Katie Hafner :

Amazing. What a story. Speaking of circles. What a wonderful segue to my last question, which is, you mentioned in passing that Ruth always wore her mother's circle pin. What is that?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Oh, it's a piece of jewelry. It's a circle pin. They used to be far more ubiquitous than they are now. And they could be gold with pearls around them or other jewels. And she had inherited one from her mother. And so every time there was an occasion in which she felt that Celia would have been particularly proud of her, she wore the pin. And she wore it when she made her first argument before the Supreme Court and on other occasions of that sort.

Katie Hafner :

When you talk to her and she would talk about Celia did her face light up?

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Oh, yes. And there's a wonderful, she has Celia's picture on her desk, her old office at the court. And every day when she would leave, get ready to leave her office, she would turn to the photo and say to herself, I hope I've done something today you would be proud of.

Katie Hafner :

Well, I want to thank you so much for talking to me about Celia Amster Bader, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's amazing mother. And I want to thank you for, for persevering, getting Ruth to talk about her, her childhood and in her and her mother, because now we have that legacy that we can hold on to as we remember Justice Ginsburg.

Jane Sherron De Hart :

Well thank you for having me, Katie. I really enjoyed it.

Katie Hafner :

I'd like to end this week's episode with the clip I started with. It's from Ruth Bader Ginsburg speech in the Rose Garden in 1993. When President Bill Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court, this was the last thing she said:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg :

I have a last thank you. It is to my mother. Celia Amster Bader, the bravest and strongest person I have known who was taken from me much too soon. I pray that I may be all that she would have been, had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons.

Katie Hafner :

And that's it this week for Our Mothers Ourselves. Andrea Perry composed and performed our theme song. Paula Mangin is our artist in residence. And Alice Hudson is the show's producer. Our Mothers Ourselves is a production of Odradek Studios. I'm Katie Hafner and I'm your host thanks for listening and have the best week you can.