New York – She examined her face. Her hair had gone gray. The furrows that marked aging had been plowed across her forehead and chin. “Hello, Mom,” she said, smiling at the unfamiliar woman in the mirror. Lieba Schwartz hadn’t seen herself for 20 years, since before she went blind.
I’m visiting with a friend in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home of the Lubavitcher Hassidim. Snow dusts the brownstones on this cold American winter. We walk over to visit LiebaSchwartz, an animated, outgoing woman who lives nearby in an uncluttered flat in an apartment building. She welcomes us, shows us new purchases in her growing home library. She’s discovered a source of second-hand books and is filling the shelves with the religious texts for which her thirst is unquenchable.
“When you’re blind, you forget how to read and write” she says. “You get it back gradually.”
Lieba was born as Marcia Schwartz in 1940. Her parents moved around a lot in her childhood. Even as a kid, she sought spirituality. “Who is God? Where is God” she remembers asking her parents. “They said, ‘We’re Jewish. We don’t believe in God,’ so I assumed they meant that Jews didn’t believe in God, not just that my parents didn’t believe.”
So when she began a systematic search of a dozen religions as a teen in Miami, Judaism didn’t make her list. The most appealing faith was one “with no idols or images” – Christian Science. After college, Schwartz worked for Christian Science and became one of its lecturers, though not “practitioners” – those designated to pray. “The church encompassed my social life and my professional life. Even so, my best friends in the church were named Kaplan, Rosenberg and Shapiro. We always sat together at meetings.”
According to Schwartz, her mother and grandmother had gone blind in their 60s. She doesn’t know what caused it. When she was only 43, a Boston ophthalmologist confirmed her worst fears: She would soon beblind for the rest of her life. Six months later, the government required that she be examined by three experts before qualifying for disability insurance. They all agreed. “The condition was genetic and inoperable, they all concluded,” she said, although she doesn’t recall the exact diagnosis.
Schwartz says she was determined to use the remaining sight to its maximum. She learned to pilot a plane, to parachute jump. She swam with dolphins.
OVER SEVEN years, her sight diminished. First she lost colors, then shapes and eventually saw only shadows. She began slipping on city curbs. She paid ablind man $10 an hour to teach her to use his cane. She says she accepted the diagnosis at face value and for all the years she was associated withChristian Science never consulted a doctor about it.
Read the full incredible story at The Jerusalem Post
she is my neighbor in Crown Heights! Very nice person and its great to have her as part of Am Yisroel
I read the whole story and it is a great one. This story is what Chabad should focus on — Chesed — rather than the controversy over Moshiach.
I remember the first time I saw this story, I didn’t believe it, not because I’m a cynic rather the fact that I’ve walked her to her apartment and read the mail for her when she was blind, ברוך פוקח עורים
In the article in the Jerusalem Post, there is mention of
“stem cell process” for macular degeneration. I know
several people that have lost most of their vision from
Please post any information you may have about
“stem cell process”. It is a great mitzvah.
michali shaffer is an angel from heaven! Kol HaKavod!
so putting letters in the Igrot Kodesh works!
this is truly amazing
Everything you read is true. If you knew Lieba “before” & now “after” it’s incredible. And yet…it’s not.
When she speaks in public, she is riveting. Now she uses her talents to spread the Emes. Lieba is a remarkable woman & these girls…there are no words to describe them!
We should not judge Chabad for looking to their rebbe as Moshiach! Imagine you had such a great rebbe and all of a sudden he was gone. The Lubavicher rebbe was great. He did what many rebbe’s could only dream about doing. His chessed still lives on all over the world. Do I agree with them trying to proselytize others into saying “yechi,” no but they were absolutely shocked that he did not become the Moshiach before he died. He was able to see right through people’s souls and tell them what their mission was in this world. People sought him out from all over the world for sicknesses. He was not a baal geiva nor did he do it for money. Today, the rebbe’s are all about the money. Instead he was busy giving money out to people. He was selfless. He may have been the moshiach in that generation, but we as a people were not zoche to having a moshiach. I am not Lubavitch, but praise them for all the great work that they do.
my jewish grandmother was also involved christian science in florida.this was in the 50’s.Hashem yishmor and hatzlacha to all the shlucim who are now in florida in dealing with this issue.
go stem cell research! down with Bush conservativism!
I know her , I remembered when she first came to Crown Heights, without a sight, she is an incredible woman with a vast knoledge of yidishkeit, something that we all can learn from her.