New For Me: It is Happy Easter & Happy Pesach (Passover)

When we are newborns and are introduced into our particular family, it is an unknown world. As we  grow into this family we take it for granted. Mom, dad, siblings, dogs, cats, horses, gerbils, whatever there may be, become part of our existence. That world is what we know and love and in which we feel safe. We do not question it. At least I know my siblings and I never did as kids. I’m sure your little ones don’t either. They just know you are there and that is all they care about.

Our  four room, south Bronx world was crammed with Mom, Dad, five kids (me being the oldest), and Grandma. We did not think about it or complain about it. We were just like everyone else in the neighborhood. It was no big deal. Some folks had eight to ten kids in an apartment.  One person who was never spoken of, and we, as kids, never thought about (until we were older) was Grandma’s husband, Grandpa. The problem for us was that Mom died at 39, Grandma a few years later, and Dad right after that. We still knew nothing of a “Grandpa”. Mom did have one brother, my Uncle Larry. When I was 18 or 19, I asked him about his dad.  He told me his father died when he was little. Then  he turned and walked awayn and never said another word. What else was there to talk about? But the way I was cut off always stuck in my mind.  My sister thought that maybe he did not want us to know the truth.

Because of that, my siblings and I occasionally would talk about the mysterious and unknown Grandpa, and we did hypothesize: he was in an insane asylum; he was a spy during WWII;  or he worked for the Nazis. We even considered that maybe he was a murderer and had been executed. We even  had fun doing it. The only thing we learned for sure was that his surname was Schul. In fact, that was the only documented info we had on Grandpa for 50 years. Enter cousin Victoria, who had suddenly become very interested in genealogy.

Five months ago, the mystery was solved thanks to Vicki, who spent countless hours searching and checking and documenting. My maternal grandfather’s name was Isidore (Irving) Schul. He was born in Krakow, and his race was Hebrew. His parents’ names (our great-grandparents) were Simon and Regina Schul.  Grandpa Irv (that is what we decided to call him) had siblings who were most likely gassed to death at Auschwitz. We are not 100% sure on that–it may have been another death camp, but they did die in the Holocaust. As for Grandpa, he was the only one in his family who made it to America. He died in NYC in 1965. What happened between him and my grandmother remains a mystery.

I felt compelled to share this with my Catholic brothers and sisters who frequent this site. I am not sure why, but I just thought that I should. For me this Easter is very different. I cannot explain what rumbles inside me. I am a cradle Catholic, and so were my parents and my Grandmother (as far as I know). How she wound up with a Hebrew man from Krakow, Poland,  in the New York City of the 1920’s we’ll never know.

It is Easter and Passover, 2013. I am 25% Hebrew, and it is still sinking in that I had family members who were victims of the Holocaust. When I look at anything relating to that insane time, I have a completely different perspective. I am not just a spectator any longer–I am INSIDE looking out. It is a very weird feeling. Upon reflection I realize that the founders of our Catholic faith, from Jesus, to Mary and Joseph and the Apostles and so on were Hebrew people. I feel truly blessed to share in both worlds. Anyway–HAPPY EASTER & HAPPY PESACH (PASSOVER).




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4 Responses to New For Me: It is Happy Easter & Happy Pesach (Passover)

  1. Don Mulcare says:

    Thanks Larry,

    Even if we know our grandparents, there is still so much mystery because we are too young to understand and appreciate their past. If you know your grandparents, then there are the great grandparents to wonder about.

    Your family situation tells of resilience in face of tough times and loss. There’s a nobility common to your family and your South Bronx neighbors. Today’s kids grow up under such different circumstances, yet they adapt in their own way. What would have been a major trauma in my childhood, they accept as normal, because to them it is normal.

    Have you traveled to Krakow or Auschwitz? A visit may bring you closer to your ancestors.

    Thanks for sharing.

    God Bless,


  2. Mary says:

    Wonderful reflection. It sounds like you had a very profound Easter. I found “Happy Pesach” interesting–here in the Eastern Catholic Churches (I am a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic) we call Easter “Pascha”. It’s from the same root as the Hebrew word.

  3. Discovering your roots really does change your sense of who you are because this new information opens your heart and soul to their souls in purgatory. Your ancestors call out for prayers, press in for prayers now that you have become aware of their existence. Very heart warming, powerful, well written article-loved it

  4. Thank you all for the kind comments. And no, I have never been to Krakow or Auschwitz. Who knows–maybe —–.