Ruth Bader Ginsburg is surprise Rosh Hashanah speaker at DC synagogue
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg is surprise Rosh Hashanah speaker at DC synagogue

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg at an event at the Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center in New York City, Sept. 21, 2016. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Rosh Hashanah worshippers at a Washington, D.C., synagogue that being Jewish has helped her have empathy for other minority groups.

Ginsburg, 84, spoke Wednesday evening at Rosh Hashanah services for the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in downtown Washington. Her appearance was a surprise to worshippers at the nondenominational synagogue, The Associated Press reported.

“If you are a member of a minority group, particularly a minority group that has been picked on, you have empathy for others who are similarly situated,” she told the congregants at a 20-minute Q&A session.

She also said that Jewish values have guided her work on the bench.

“The Jewish religion is an ethical religion. That is, we are taught to do right, to love mercy, do justice, not because there’s gonna be any reward in heaven or punishment in hell. We live righteously because that’s how people should live and not anticipating any award in the hereafter,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg, a member of the court since 1993, is one of three Jewish justices currently serving on the Supreme Court and the longest-serving Jewish justice. The other Jewish justices are Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Breyer also spoke last year at Sixth & I High Holidays services.