I Was Catholic, She Was Jewish

I Was Catholic, She Was Jewish

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Shaindle’s Shpiel

When I was a little girl, not that long ago, my mom (z”l) never questioned my love of Christmas music. Yes, it’s true. It always made me happy, joyful even.

I loved going to midnight Mass with Angela and her family at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Moved by the grandeur and the hymns, I would be breathless with awe; I actually cried at its beauty.

So it should not be a surprise when I tell you that I, a nice Jewish girl from the Bronx, thrive on Christmas music from Thanksgiving to Christmas, when suddenly all the radio stations abruptly stop playing my beloved Christmas music.

Shaindle Schmuckler
Shaindle Schmuckler

Before moving to Atlanta, we lived in Tampa, Fla., where I met a woman I knew instantly was my soul sister. We had an instant rapport, experiencing a deep understanding and total trust for each other.

As it turned out, Rita and I were not only friends, but were also colleagues, working for the same nonprofit agency. After a while, Rita discovered to her chagrin that I was wet behind the ears when it came to the politics of a nonprofit. I had been hired as the director of the agency and a family counselor. I supervised and fired 11 social workers at one time or another during my tenure.

My budget was a beautiful work of art. I loved and respected my board. There was, however, this little hole in my personality; I shall identify it as being a Pollyanna. I could not believe anyone would betray my trust.

Oh, but Rita was not a girl who suddenly fell off the turnip truck. She spotted the bad guys almost immediately. She saved my sweet tushy more than once until I finally learned to save it myself. I’m still not so good at it.

Rita and I both loved the Christmas season. Listening to Christmas music in the office every day made us smile. My family shared Christmas dinner with her family for many years. By the way, she is one heck of a chef and always made sure there was fish with the meal, respecting our commitment to kashrut.

There were a number of occasions when I visited my psychic. Oh, please, don’t give me that “ugh” sound. This was not in place of a rabbi; this was in addition to the rabbi. Rita had her own psychic, whom she also visited on occasion. Again, in addition to her priest.

Did I not mention that Rita at the time was a practicing Catholic?

On this one occasion, my psychic asked me, “Who is this woman in your life named Rita?” You could have scooped me up from the floor with a straw — that’s how shocked and wobbly I felt. My psychic was the most insightful person I had known. His revelations were always spot on. But this I found unbelievable. Had I not recorded the session, I would have believed I was hallucinating.

About a week later, I revealed the shocking news to Rita.

We cried. When I was done sharing, I heard the following words from Rita: “I visited my psychic, who asked me: ‘Who is this woman in your life with the first letter of her name being S? Is her name Shaindle?’ ”

Rita could have been scooped up with that very same straw.

We were given almost identical revelations from different psychics on different day. Talk about beshert (the way things are supposed to be).

Suddenly, it all made sense. I understood why I loved Christmas music and the energy of the malls at this time of the year. Last year, I took my grandbabies to visit the first and only Jewish Santa I’d ever known, with his own white beard. Santa Rick — it’s worth looking him up.

Back to Christmas and Rita.

The fact that we had an immediate kinship, our families loving each other, my girls and their children referring to Rita as Grandma Rita, it all made perfect sense.

In our other life, Rita was Jewish; I was Catholic. In that life as in this life, we were soul sisters. It all makes perfect sense, right?

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