The Parade Root

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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13 Responses

  1. Ahron says:

    I will start off by advising that we be clear about the purpose of the homosexual paraders—at least the leadership—as revealed by their choices of venue. The first international “world pride” parade took place in the year 2000 in Rome (see here for a particularly militant piece of coverage on that one.) The next international homosexual parade is of course now scheduled for Jerusalem….

    Jerusalem and Rome–the two centers of meaning, morality, and spiritual direction for Western civilization. The two centers from which the principles of acceptable and forbidden relationships were broadcast first to a nation, and then to many nations, and then to the West, and now to all humanity. The two centers whose teachings to humanity enabled the desexualization of family and society, and thereby unleashed human progress forward. The centers of what is now acknowledged, after so many centuries, as the Judeo-Christian ethic that made the West the leaders and the envy of the world. It is these two centers, and these ideas that are now seen as enemies, and therefore as targets. It is the colonialism (and I believe the rage) of the paraders-their intent to slap these principles, and their adherents, directly in the face—that is now targeted on Jerusalem.

    It is after all only Jerusalem that ever enabled Rome to become a center of any manner of moral teaching. Jerusalem is the rarely-discussed foundation upon which the structure and mindset of the West is built. In 2000 in Rome the paraders attacked the hands. In 2006 in Jerusalem they’re aiming for the heart. The marchers have chosen their targets well.

    So before we talk about the response: Let us be very clear about what the issues here are.

  2. Naftali says:

    You can’t have your cake and eat it. You can’t demand that the Supreme Court desist from imposing politically correct values and then turn around and demand that it impose our own perhaps politically incorrect values. Hopefully, the post Barak court will be less activist than its predecessor and will focus on narrow issues, in this case whether the technical requirements of a parade license were met. This is what we demand of the court generally, and we can’t expect more now.

    The Supreme Court responds to issues that are brought before it. If the parade issue could be resolved politically or by way of dialogue (as some Rabbonim attempted to do via the offices of Nir Barakat) the Supreme Court would not be a player. The purpose of the Court should not be to establish norms but to protect the legal rights of those who fell discriminated against, usually minorities of one sort or another. By defending unpopular minorities, the Court opens itself to attack. Although I disagreed with the general direction of the Barak Court, I believe that it took a great deal of civic courage to deliver unpopular decisions, especially on security and religious matters.

    When was the last time a Rav took an unpopular position in the community? I am particularly distressed that the latest declaration signed by Rav Elyashiv and Rav Yosef and others did not demand that protest be peaceful. These Rabbis must be aware of the situation on the ground and I have no doubt that they are opposed to violence in every fiber of their being. Nonetheless, they are unable to speak directly against violence because that would not be politically correct from their point of view. If we had leaders with Barak’s courage to make tough decisions, the whole situation would be different.

    I live in Jerusalem and see the burning garbage and stone throwing. Make no mistake: there is a carnival atmosphere –an atmosphere of prikat ol and holelut — on the streets of our community that matches the carnival the the gays are trying to perpetrate. After a while, people who focus so much on their enemies start to look like them.

    I accept the Court’s refusal to be swayed by threats of violence. If the violent members of our community win the day, we insiders will be the first to suffer; remember, most acts of violence take place in the family and between people who know each other.

  3. Michoel says:

    Naftali,
    Rav Eliyashiv’s car was stoned a few years back when he paskened (very unpopularly in some cirlces) that some k’varim could be moved for a new road. They take upopular positions all the time, if that is waht they think the emes is. Have you never heard of Drash Moshe being burned by kanoyim? Please be carefull in how you speak about rabbanim.

  4. JZ says:

    If the Jerusalem Post’s reporting is accurate there’s considerable disagreement amongst the Gedolim as to how to react to this event:

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1162378356679&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  5. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Nice, level-headed post Naftali. Unfortunately, you may already be suffering in very concrete way and the zealots may now be liable for more than just generating enormous Sinas Chinam. See the article below:

    From Jpost: Experts warn haredim they’re poisoning families

    Haredi hotheads who are burning plastic garbage bins to protest Friday’s Gay Pride Parade are poisoning themselves and their families, according to environmental health experts who say burned plastic releases “thousands” of dangerous chemicals, The Jerusalem Post has learned…

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1162378356688&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  6. Dr. E says:

    My guess is that this will unfortunately set a precedent as to “acceptable” responses to issues that certain groups of people disagree with. After all, it worked. IMHO, this is NOT the Orthodox (or even Chareidi) way, but the methods of fundamentalist radicals. The absence of any unified mentchlach protest or rally will also likely repeat itself.

  7. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Please be carefull in how you speak about rabbanim”

    Keeping in mind Kavod Hatorah is essential and crucial.

    I am happy that a compromise was reached between the parade and the religious community. I also have quoted R Elyashiv and Roshei Yeshivah from Kol Torah who said that these violent methods of rioting and demonstrating(burning trash, and throwing stones) are not the way of our Torah.

    But the larger issue of dealing with extremists needs to be dealt with. Blaming the police(there is plenty to do in that area), or saying that Rabbonim can’t control the fringes is avoiding the problem. Eventually the charedi community will need to look it in the eye and not hide from it.

    What can be done if there are Kannoim who don’t listen? I think the answer needs to come from the grass-roots tzibbur. Most people know that bans and kol kores have “askonim” working behind the scenes. So to with riots, there needs to be a groundswell of disgust for such behavior before change can take place.

    If all religious communities could come together, then Gedolim will see that the tzibbur will not tolerate such actions, and more forceful proclamtions will be able to be issued by Gedolim. The Kannoim will see this as well and they will stop their behavior.

    I also hope that the mashgiach of the Yeshiva whose three students were caught on international press photos throwing stones will take responsibility for the chilul Hashem and strongly ostracize such behavior.

  8. Michoel says:

    Baruch,
    I agree with you. How about bright signs saying “We are very deeply pained by cars driving on Shabbat, we are very deeply pained by toeivah in the Holy City, but we are most deeply pained by deliquints throwing rocks!”

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    Kudos to Mrs. Schmidt for setting forth the motives and agenda of the directors behind the now-cancelled parade and to R Baruch for his sagacious comments, as always, on the dynamics within the Charedi world.

  10. Bob Miller says:

    If kannoim create problems for the Gedolim, the latter need their own security detail. Life in the Wild East!

  11. ja says:

    “At the end I did keriya, with a tear in my eye and a tear in my collar over the sad situation where the judges of the state of Israel have sunk to this nadir.”

    Why is this mutar – was this something that a rav told you was acceptable to do?
    even to tear more than necessary for the death of a parent is considered bal tashchis. for chinuch, one may be over bal taschis to rebuke, but I believe some say only with things that are already broken (or in this case torn) and other issurim (eg chavala and onaa) are waived for chinuch. I don’t think that applies to adults.
    Is there a heter for public tochacha?

  12. ja says:

    the author responded to me personally that the psak she received was that one can tear kriya in this circumstance.

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