Mr. Schmidt is an independent scholar, author of Old Wine, New Flasks: Reflections on Science in Jewish Traditions. One of the most well-defined borders in the Jewish Hasidic world is that of separating genders in many areas of life (prayer, study, celebrations). Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (1905-1994), scion of the Sanz Hasidic dynasty, however, after his wife and eleven children were killed during the Holocaust, changed his views and practice, essentially “crossing cultural borders.” Whereas before the Holocaust the Sanz Hasidic girls and women were discouraged from studying Torah (Biblical) texts, and were discouraged from attending synagogue, already in the Displaced Persons (DP) camps in Germany he encouraged both activities. He established a very small seminary for the crème de la crème of survivors and hired an unusually gifted Orthodox teacher, Malka Zahavi Goldstein, to teach them. Rabbi Halberstam’s innovations and “cultural border crossing” continued after the surviving women reached the U.S. and Israel. His leadership in training a cadre of female leaders, unusual for an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, was documented though a series of interviews with women who were in the seminary in Passau after WWII.
Prof. Dr. Karsten Fitz invites you to a guest lecture by Shira Leibowitz Schmidt on 23 October at 4 p.m., seminar room NK 212.