December 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Irving Schul--I'm Sorry We Never Met

by Larry Peterson

Isidore (Irving) Schul was born on December 18, 1889.  He died in 1965 in New York City, alone and without family. That is so sad because he had family. Today is his birthday.

I have written many times  about the fact that all of the first Christians were Jewish people. Jesus was a Jew and preached in the temple. His dad, Joseph, was a Jewish man faithful to the law of Moses. His mom, Mary, was a Jewish woman who lived true to the law of Moses. This coming Christmas celebration was made possible by Jews. The apostles were Jewish and the first pope was Jewish.  The words Judeo-Christian are forever linked. They cannot be separated. The Old testament was written by Hebrews. The New Testament was written by Christians who were former Hebrews. So, I write this for a man named Isidore (Irving) Schul, a Hebrew man from Krakow, Austria (today Poland)  who  arrived in America on August 17, 1907. I always knew this man existed but I never knew a thing about him until September of 2012. That is when I learned that Irving Schul was my grandfather. Truly, I am a Judeo-Christian man.

I am a "cradle-Catholic".  I was baptized Catholic as a baby, I received First Communion as a first grader, Confirmation as a third grader (which made me a 'spiritual adult' qualified to be a good little soldier and defend the faith) and spent a total of 12 years in Catholic school. Here is the thing with me. I have been blessed. It all "stuck". I love my faith.  Today, as a senior citizen, I have come to understand the simplicity of this faith. I have sifted  through the pile of confusing theology and have come to the realization that if you follow Jesus and truly try to  "Love your neighbor" as He taught, everything else will fall in place. We won't be lying to each other, killing each other, stealing from each other, having 'affairs', or even stealing stuff. If you "love your neighbor" you won't be doing any of that.  And you won't be passing judgment on others because of their race, creed, politics, or whatever else you might pompously deem offensive to your worldview.(Just think about the possibilities.) This applies to a group that Catholic/Christians have had a hard time accepting over the centuries. I am talking about the Jewish people.

When you are a child your world consists of your home and the people in it. My brothers, sister and I had Mom, Dad and Grandma. We were one big 'happy' family living in an apartment in the Bronx. None of us ever thought to ask about a Grandpa. Why would we?  We were young kids and our world  view did not extend very far outside of our apartment building.  Our parents and Grandma died over a period of a few years when we were young. That was when we started asking questions about our family.  One of them was, "What happened to Grandma's husband, our grandfather?" It was too late. There was no one who could answer the question.

My cousin, Vicki, doing an intense genealogy investigation, finally discovered our grandfather. It is all documented and factual. We have the "paper work". Her dad, (my uncle) had passed away ten years earlier and never talked about his father.  My mom or dad never mentioned him either. My dad's parents had passed away. We all knew that. But it was like Mom's dad had never existed...but he had. Why we never knew of him, why he and my devout catholic grandmother married in 1919, how any of that transpired, none of us will ever know. The ones who knew those answers are all gone and have taken their stories with them. Thank you, Vicki, for doing the work. You found our 'missing link'. God bless you for that.

 So...I just want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Grandpa Irving and tell him I am sorry we never met. Hopefully, one day we will. Oh yeah, from your Catholic grandson to you, my Jewish grandfather,  Merry Christmas and belated Happy Hanukkah.