On May 30 I posted below some sketchy thoughts (“American versus Israeli haredi sector”) I had in my initial reaction to a Jerusalem Post op-ed by Elliot Jager “American haredi triumph” . There were quite a few comments by people who read my blog entry and this stimulated me to write a more formal essay, which appeared in the Opinion section of the Jerusalem Post today (24 b Iyar, 2 June) as US Haredim versus Israeli and subtitled: Viennese Pastries versus Pickled Herring. (BTW the Post was very fair and added a complimentary photograph of Ponivezh yeshiva students in heated debate). In the essay I try to respond to and incorporate some of the issues the Cross-currents comments raised and I want to express my appreciation here for the feedback.
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.