HILLSBOROUGH, New Jersey — On the eve of the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo massacre first anniversary, Charlie Judeo crossed my mind.
Charlie Judeo is the gatekeeper, inspector, and elevator operator of a synagogue in Upper Manhattan, New York City I recently “housecleaned” for five hours.
The place was a Jewish congregation, a worship community equivalent to a chapel for the Christian faithful.
While waiting for the assembly to conclude at 10 o’clock in the morning, I sat outside the synagogue and the old man Charlie Judeo engaged me in a brief but thought-provoking conversation when he saw the cross pendant on my necklace:
CJ: “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?”
APV: “Yes sir, I am.”
CJ: “You believe in Jesus (Christ) as a Messiah?”
APV (Digging from my Christian Living memory lane, I hesitantly replied): “We, Christians, believe Jesus Christ was a Prophet yes, a Messiah.”
CJ: “Man, Jesus could not be a Prophet or Messiah because he possessed supernatural qualities and was a product of a virgin birth.”
APV: “Please elaborate.”
CJ: “Jesus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David. A Messiah is born of human parents and must possess physical attributes.”
Charlie Judeo is a dyed-in-the-wool Hebrew believer, thus I relinquished any attempt to engage him in a debate over faith, which I thought was unnecessary.
I came to operate a dust pan, a sweeper, a rag and a vacuum cleaner; wash the plates, glasses, cauldrons and other kitchen utensils and collect garbage, not to join the Holy Bible versus Torah slugfest.
The steely admonition and religious lecture had to be interrupted.
I needed to hit the ground running; the assembly was over
and it’s past 10
A good and pleasant person, Charlie Judeo entered the synagogue to check the progress of my work after two hours.
A garbage collector beat him to the draw by 15 minutes.
“Where is the garbage?” Charlie Judeo demanded.
“The collector had taken it away,” I retorted.
“OK,” Charlie Judeo snapped back, his moustache gyrating.
Three o’clock in the afternoon. Time to go.
Charlie Judeo was waiting outside the synagogue.
The old man escorted me to the building exit and bade goodbye,
“Thank you, Charlie Judeo. Hope to see you again soon,” I quipped, waving my right hand.