I Was a Catholic Zionist
A Biblical Challenge to Tribalism and Idolatry
Ted Schmidt returns with his most recent book about his journey with the Jewish community in Toronto. Three years in research and three trips to Palestine, his book, I Was a Catholic Zionist, traces his evolution from a downtown Jew-loving Catholic who cheered Israel’s Six-Day War in 1967 to one who understood Zionism as a settler colonial movement which dispossessed the indigenous people of the land.
“Many writers of course have traced this development, as what Haifa psychologist Professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi called our “original sin” the dispossession of the Palestinian people. “All Israelis” Beit-Hallahmi wrote,” have come to recognize Zionism’s original sin against the Palestinians. The terrible secret of the injustice is known to everybody, but cannot be openly faced.”
Ted Schmidt says “The deeper I researched this brutal history through the eyes of several “Jews of conscience” the more I became alarmed by what Zionism was doing to Judaism. Here my teachers were brilliant rabbis of conscience who deeply understood the words of Alan Brownfeld of the American Council for Judaism, “Zionism was flawed from the beginning as it rejected the dominant spiritual history and essence of Judaism.”
This book is a loving gift not only to the Jewish people but also to all seekers of peace and justice and “tikkun olam,” the repair of the world. Ted Schmidt dedicates this book to his 50 Jewish heroes.
About the author
Ted Schmidt is the former editor of Catholic New Times was a friend of many great Toronto rabbi’s in his struggle to make sense of the ongoing challenge to institutional Judaism especially as it relates to the Palestine-Israel situation. He is the author of Shabbes Goy: a Catholic Boyhood on a Jewish Street in a Protestant City (2001), Journeys to the Heart of Catholicism (2008) and Never Neutral: A Teaching Life (2013).
A pioneer in Holocaust studies, he was the first teacher in Canada to systematically teach the Holocaust (1968) and has done several workshops for the Holocaust Remembrance committee. In 1993 he co-authored the Ministry of Education OAC course on Philosophy. For 30 years Ted has taught teacher training courses on scripture, social ethics as well as held retreats on biblical justice. At present he lectures at the Faculty of Education at York University.
In a lifetime of teaching he has been honoured by religion teachers and colleagues at large. In 1991 he received the Ontario English Teachers’ Award of Merit, the highest distinction the association grants. In 1998 he received the Glorya Nanne Award for his writing on Catholic education. In 2002 he received the Social Justice Award from the Toronto Secondary Catholic Teachers Association. The Ontario Teachers’ Federation honoured him with the Greer Memorial Award in 2006 for his “outstanding commitment to publicly funded education.” In 2013 received the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Medal for his work “in Education and Justice.”