What is a nice leftist like you doing at the site of a right-wing demonstration?

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. Moshe says:

    Shira,

    The Haredi community in Israel has long ago left the ideology of Rav Shach. Was Rav Shach for the building of the large Charedi cities of Beitar and Kiryat Sefer? If you think that he was, you’re dealing with semantics. The world will never agree to anything but a full pullout to 1967 lines. As such, building in Beitar is problematic. Yet, the Haredi community has gone in it’s masses to Beitar and Kiryat Sefer.

    There were many other Gedolim in Israel aside from Rav Shach who supported the settlements. I never met Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, but from the stories I hear about him, he was a great friend of many settlers and a rabbinic leader of theirs as well. Noam Livnat, brother of Ed. Minister Limor Livnat is a Baal Teshuvah who lives in the settlements near Shechem, and was close to Rav Auerbach. One of Rav Auerbach’s closest talmidim – Rav Avigdor Nevenzahl has stated unequivocally in shiurim that the disengagement plan is Assur, and it is forbidden for soldiers to take part in it – they must refuse orders. Rav Nevenzahl is not Mizrahi by any stretch of the imagination, he is staunchly Charedi. I personally know of a family on the Old City – Rav Yosef Zilberman, who now lives in the Moslem Quarter. Before moving there, he went to Rav Elyashiv, as people were trying to tell him that it is assur to live there. Rav Elyashiv would not give a psak that it is forbidden – and as such, he lives in the Moslem Quarter today (soon to be Jewish Quarter, with the coming of Mashiach).

    To speak Rav Ovadia Yosef’s name in trying to justify the disengagement does a great disservice to a great man. Rav Ovadia Yosef has consistently stated that the disengagement plan is forbidden, and we should work against it. He has stated that it will place us in a great danger, and as such should not be done. I’m not sure how you can fathom that he is pro-disengagement – he has clearly stated that he is against it.

  2. Daniel Weltman says:

    This post demonstrates the sad split between torah and halacha on the one hand, and hashkafa on the other. The author quotes Rav Ovadia as support, and then has the temerity to ignore his public statements that clearly contradict her conclusions. Rav Ovadia has stated that the “peace process” and “disengagement” are NOT valid halachikally, even in his view, because it is clear to everyone, even the defense and security establishment, that there will be only more danger and death in their wakes. So Mrs. Schmidt, do not claim that you are for the transfer of Jews out of the settlements because Rav Ovadia is. He isn’t.
    But more importantly, we Jews must realize that, after 2000 years of murderous Galut, G-d has given us a tremendous gift. He called it the State of Israel. He then added to that gift in ’67 Aza, Yehuda, Shomron and Jerusalem. We all must realize that by giving any of it away, we spit in G-d’s face and scorn His gift. Instead of doing that, we should be working to strengthen and empower our Nation in its State (with a capital ‘S’), bringing the Jews there closer to Torah and Mitzvot, and building our Geula out of the ashes of the horrid Galut.
    Of course Torah is the most important ideal. But that does not mean it is the only one, and the only ideal that deserves our attention. Torah is the sine qua non, and without it, we cannot exist. But without the Land of Israel, we have lost our national sense of direction. We act as individuals instead of as a nation. And, as Yechezkel 36 points out, our national disgrace of being thrown out of the land, is a chillul Hashem. Torah is not enough to combat that. There is also a need to return to our land and become a proud and respected Nation once more.
    Giving land to our enemies is not only a halachik problem according to the vast majority of poskim, it is also a tremendous national disgrace that is sure to bring us more terror and death. It also brings more chillul Hashem, as the nations see us as weak, and say, “that G-d of Israel must not really exist.” It is that reason, the chillul Hashem aspect, that we as a nation must grappple with and realize that, “echad shogeg v’echad mezid b’chillul Hashem”. The chillul will be almost impossible to fix, as will the other effects of “disengagement”.
    So, how should Israel deal with the demographic and security problems? Well, the Arabs have 22 states. They must go home, and leave us and our sliver of a State alone. This is the clear position of the Halacha.

    Shabbat Shalom, and may we see true peace, a peace of the mighty, with the arrival of mashiach, quickly!

    Daniel Weltman

  3. Shragie says:

    Rav Shach didn’t mean to give back land without any solid secure return. He meant that a qualified promise of peace is a prudent deal. The current deal with Jews getting slaughtered is not prudent. I highly doubt that Rav Shach would back this suicide pact

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