This I Believe - Justine Wise Polier

Justine Wise Polier, the daughter of Rabbi Stephen Wise, worked on behalf of the underprivileged and became the first female judge in New York City when she was appointed to the Children’s Court. In the 1950s she helped focus attention on the issue of de facto segregation in New York City schools. As part of broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow’s recurring “This I Believe” radio news segment, Justine Wise Polier discussed the beliefs that motivated her.

Freedom means many things to many people. From my earliest childhood I saw it through the eyes of my parents as both opportunity and challenge to do battle for those in bondage, to achieve freedom of the spirit and mind for one’s self and one’s fellow men. Blessed by parents whose deepest joy was through service to their fellow men, who were deeply moral without ever being self-righteous, who were profoundly religious and therefore not sanctimonious, I learned that love of mankind became meaningful only as it reflected understanding of and love of human beings.

As an American Jew I have found that the great spiritual and moral traditional given to the world by the Hebrew Prophets have strengthened me in my quest for personal dignity and therefore in the struggle for the dignity of man and the freedom of mankind. The beauty and great traditions of my people as of my home have been sources of strength and inspiration in confronting the difficult problems faced by our generation in these troubled times.

Justine Wise Polier, "This I Believe," 1953. Script from radio broadcast, with introduction by Edward R. Murrow. From the Justine Wise Polier papers at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. Permission granted by the Schlesinger Library.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "This I Believe - Justine Wise Polier." (Viewed on September 24, 2021) <>.


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