Can an AAA support Shas?

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 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 survived the Shoah, edited by Esther Farbstein); and Rest of the Dove (Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Haim Sabato). She and her husband appear in the documentary film about the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, “Hidden Face.” She is available to lecture in Israel and in the US and can be contacted via

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5 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    Rabbi JB Soloveitchik ZT”L taught one reason for hakarat hatov to parents (or anyone else) is that if we don’t show it to those we interact with here, we will eventually not show it to Hashem.

  2. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Sorry, but the cynic in me has to point out:

    Where did Shas succeed where others failed? By appealing to the Sephardi vote, Shas was able to gain greater leverage than the other Chareidi parties when coalition building started after each election. Using their considerably higher number of seats, they were able to extort that much more money from the government’s coffers than the other Chareidi parties ever could. In turn they wisely invested that money in building “infrastructure” projects like schools with hot lunches and good educational programs. This, in turn, got them more votes and more seats.

    The other difference between them and the other Chareidi parties is more telling. While the others have had their limits – no sitting in a government with Shinui, for example – Shas has not. They’ll prop up any government, no matter how “post-Zionist pro-Arab” it is, just as long as they get their money for their institutions. Look at the prime minister they’re still propping up now!

    From that perspective, one must ask: do the ends justify the means?

  3. Menachem Lipkin says:

    All good reasons to give maaser to a non-profit charitible organization called “Shas”. Not one good reason to vote them as a political party entrusted with running a country.

  4. lacosta says:

    the relative peace amongst its factions, vs the massive haredi infighting that is UTJ, explains why Shas can appeal to voters who are halachically allowed to choose whom to vote for….

  5. L.Oberstein says:

    Usraeli politics doesn’t make any sense. There are too frequent elections and nothing is resolved. Will the new government contain Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu? Rav Ovadia said some harsh things about voting for Lieberman’s party, how can they sit and divide up the spoils without giving the impression that pre-election talk is just talk. Shas may be doing a great job as a party and helping the Sephardim but as long as political parties represent narrow interest groups, this is a flaw that weakens Israel. It would be better if the election laws forced the mergers of most of the parties and led to broad based groupings. Very few Religious Zionists voted for a Religious Zionist party, whatever it was called this time. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there, it means they feel a part of the country and don’t want to waste their vote on a small party. The present system was copied from Poland, why would anyone want to copy Poland?

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