By Ralph Hood
Long ago and far away, there is a true story about a man called Izzy Schreiber.
Izzy, like so many other Jews, had left Europe and migrated to New York.
My father told me that the strongest Jews in Europe fled to New York. The strongest Jews in New York headed south. Izzy was one of them.
Izzy opened a shoe store in Brunswick, Georgia. My father was the superintendent of schools.
Izzy had a daughter named Minnie. She was a teenager, smart as a whip, cute as could be, and she — like Izzy — worked hard.
One evening Izzy came home and Minnie gleefully told him that she — Minnie — had been chosen as valedictorian of her class.
Izzy sincerely believed that nobody would let a Jew be valedictorian.
Izzy was very upset.
The next day Izzy read in the local newspaper that Minnie was valedictorian.
Izzy still wasn’t sure.
That night, Izzy came to our house, knocked on the door and asked my father, “Is my Minnie really valedictorian.” Dad said, “She sure is, and she’s one of the best valedictorians we’ve ever had.”
Izzy cried. Then he said, “In the old country is kill, in New York is spit on, in Brunswick is my Minnie valedictorian. You damn good man.”
That was many, many decades ago. That story still puts tears in my eyes.