Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Identity

If I am sitting by the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal, I desperately need something to read. Bad habit. The only section of the paper available was Sports from yesterday, so I sighed and skimmed through the cover story. 

Holy MOLY.  

The article was about a former baseball player, Ralph Branca, who is now 85. He was born to a fervently Roman Catholic family. 

And he has now found out that he is JEWISH. 

He had family members that were killed in the Holocaust. He never knew. 

His mother, whose maiden name was Berger, came over from Europe on her own at the turn of the century and married a Catholic. She was more "religious" than her husband, and had 17 children. 

Ralph was never told until now.
“I have to get my money from Mrs. Lichtenfeld,” Branca said.
What? I asked. Branca explained.
He told me that as a boy in Mount Vernon, he had lighted the stove for a Jewish neighbor every Friday night. He had been a Shabbos goy, doing something that was forbidden for Jews to do on the Sabbath.
Here was a memory that elevated experience over genes, that affirmed Branca’s sense of self. He was a Catholic, not a Jew.
“If I was Jewish, I couldn’t have done it,” he said. He added, “I’m not going to sell my soul for a penny.”


Mystery Woman said...

Wow... I wonder why this would have been a secret.

Princess Lea said...

She immigrated by herself, and she wanted to marry a Christian. It wouldn't be surprising if 1) she was ashamed of being Jewish or 2) she did not want her children to be held back by discrimination.

Anonymous said...

Wow. So the shot heard round the world was given up by a jew.... Hehe.

Princess Lea said...

He wasn't given up by a Jew. His mother married a Christian and raised the children as Christian and never told them.

lefty said...

Wow. Crazy story.
And 17 kids? That IS religious.
I wish the mother was still alive and available for interview. I wonder what she'd say now...