Wearing Red Herrings

Shira Schmidt

Shira Leibowitz Schmidt was raised in an assimilated Jewish home in New York, and became observant while studying at Stanford University in California. In June 1967 she told her engineering school professor she would miss the final exam because she was going to Israel to volunteer during the Six Day War. “That’s the most original excuse I have ever been offered,” he responded. She arrived during the war and stayed, receiving her BSc in absentia. She subsequently met and married the late Elhanan Leibowitz, and they raised their six children in Beersheba. Mrs. Leibowitz acquired a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the Technion, and an MSc in Civil Engineering from University of Waterloo. Today she lives with her husband, Dr. Baruch Schmidt, in Netanya. She is on the board of the Charedi College of Jerusalem. She co-authored, with Nobel prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann, Old Wine New Flasks. She has co-translated from Hebrew to English (with Jessica Setbon) From the Depths (the autobiography of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau); The Forgotten Memoirs (memoirs of Rabbis who survved the Shoah, edited by Esther Farbstein); and Rest of the Dove (Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Haim Sabato). She s available to lecture in Israel and in the US.

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3 Responses

  1. Bnei Levi says:

    Can you post the original teshuva?

  2. chanoch says:

    How to explain it? Simple… Judaism requires modest dress such as clothes that don’t call attention to the wearer. In ancient times, the only two available *bright* dyes were purple/blue (such as indigo and techeiles) which were expensive and associated with royalty, and red, a bright die available to common people). Red clothes might be expected to draw an inappropriate amount of attention and so were to be avoided. The halacha today is more often applied to any unusually bright clothes than specifically to red, although some poskim do think that red particularly draws the eye, even today, more than any color.

  3. Eliezer says:

    I don’t know why we need to be coy about our disapproval of red clothing for women. The New York Times Magazine of March 22, 1998, in an article (that I cut out) by Mary Tannen, stated:
    “After World War I, when women seized the right to wear makeup, they chose red, dabbing it on with the fervor of converts. Once the mark of women who sold their bodies, red was taken over by those powerful enough to advertise their sexuality and still own it.”
    And if it says so in the Times, mei’si’ach lefi tumo, that’s the way it is.

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