2004-02-06 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

Emerald Isle Immigration Center

Chatting with Chapey by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey


Dr. Geraldine ChapeyDr. Geraldine Chapey

Emerald Isle Immigration Center

I am delighted to be able to take this opportunity to share with my readers some exciting details of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center’s 11th Annual Rob ert Briscoe Awards. Bris coe, as many of you know, was the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ireland. And speaking of matters "Jewish" I would be remiss if I do not divert for a moment to ad dress the troubling issues raised in last week’s WAVE column – From the Editor’s Desk.

Let me first thank the editor for his kind words in saying that "the reopening of the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council by Geraldine Chapey and others is a positive event for Rockaway". He even went as far as to describe the essential goodness of the resulting "cooperation between the two communities that share much of our small peninsula".

Howard, you are a retired middle school teacher who taught in IS 53 and served as a middle school facilitator in District 27. In your column last week you stated that "anyone who paid attention in high school history class should have an inkling of who he (Coughlin) is and what he meant for the nation in the years leading up to World War II". Yet, you, as a paid middle school teacher, sat by year after year allowing the district to use text books like American Nation published by Prentice Hall - the text which was used by the student who wrote the essay and one of the texts used by many schools in the district. The 2002 edition portrays Coughlin as a (and I quote) "priest who felt that the New Deal did not go far enough. Father Coughlin spoke over the radio each week to almost 10 million listeners. The popular ‘radio priest’ criticized Roosevelt for not taking strong action against bankers and rich investors". That is the text’s entire citation on the radio priest. The 1998 version of American Nation had a similar portrayal of Coughlin. These two text books did not include any information on his anti-Semitism. In good conscience how could you permit middle school students to graduate with that incomplete picture of the radio priest? Why weren’t you speaking out as a teacher and as a columnist to protest this portrayal? You should have been challenging yourself, and the book publishers not the Chapeys, because as I stated in my letter last week (page 42 The Wave) we were unaware of this. (People who have doctorates are not walking encyclopedias.) In point of fact, the incomplete description of Coughlin’s activities by Prentice Hall is unacceptable. Therefore, a letter is being sent to Prentice Hall to make them aware of the matter and to re quest that they correct it. Anti-Semi tism in any form must be addressed.


Senator Charles Schumer (left) with Chapey and Michael Carroll.Senator Charles Schumer (left) with Chapey and Michael Carroll.

Further, your anti-Catholic prejudice is shown in your continuing reference to the Chapeys as the elder and the younger. It is a common tradition for Catholics to name their children after themselves. My mother’s name is Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey and I am Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey. How can you be so insensitive and have taught diverse populations?

Your imagined ability to read minds and to ascribe motivation to me is more suited to the Psychic Friends Network than to the editor of a paper. In fact, you have never had a one-on-one in-depth, sit down conversation with my mother or me so you don’t know either of us. However, you re peatedly put a negative spin on events related to us.

Your predictions about my behavior and motivations have been proven false. In the early 1990’s you claimed in your column that I was a strong political force in the community and that I would jump ship and run against Walter Ward - a Democratic Councilman. That never happened. Now that he died, you are imagining my running against other local candidates. What about a run against Bloom berg, Pataki, Hevesi, Spitzer or Bush?

We take some comfort in the editor’s reflection about what really matters – the ongoing cooperation between the two communities. That is the hallmark of what so many of us have strived for over the years, - to build bridges of understanding, to link all the wonderful cultures that make up this fine community – Catholic, Jewish and beyond.


Now let me get back to the real purpose of this column – the 11th annual Robert Briscoe Awards, which also continue this important tradition of understanding and collaboration. As stated before, these awards are dedicated to Robert Briscoe the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ireland. At the January 26th ceremony, at the 21 Club in Manhattan, we were honored to be joined by Benjamin Briscoe, Roberts’s son who is himself a former member of the Irish parliament. It is wonderful to note that this Jewish family (the Briscoe’s) is outstanding in Ireland for holding the longest continuous record of service in the Irish Par liament. The Briscoe’s are well known for their life long devotion and service to Ireland and the Irish people.

Three outstanding Jewish leaders – Senator Charles Schumer, Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass and Stuart Appelbaum were honored by the Emerald Irish Immigration Center on January 26, 2004 with the Robert Briscoe Award.

Senator Charles Schumer (our former Congressman) was chosen be cause, as the New York Times stated, he is a "serious lawmaker with rooted values, sound policy positions and a deep commitment to the common good". Schumer espouses the cause of immigrants because he believes that they add value to our state and nation. Schumer sponsored the Schumer visas and is working to extend the Walsh visas which allow young Irish people to work and train in the U. S. before going back to Ireland. Schumer’s concern for the Irish is commendable.

Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass is the most tenured Chief Chaplin for the NYPD. He has an earned doctorate in history and philosophy from NYU. He has extensive teaching experience in universities throughout the U. S. He ser ved for 26 years as the spiritual leader of the East Midwood Jewish Center. He has had a distinguished and outstanding career serving the people of NYC. He well deserves this honor.

Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, is an elected Vice Pres ident of the AFL-CIO. He is also an in ernational VP of the 1.4 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. He graduated from Harvard Law School with honors. Stuart Appelbaum has devoted his life to serving and bettering the lives of working men and women in America. What a deserving man!

The Honorable Brian O’Dwyer is the Chairman of the Emerald Isle Im migration Center. He served as the MC for the ceremonies. He is a partner in the prestigious NY law firm of O’Dwyer and Bernstien.

Congratulations to each of these individuals for promoting friendship and brotherhood between the Irish and Jewish communities.

It is my sincere hope that Howard Schwach can stop his negative perseveration on the Chapeys and can move on and that we can work together to promote harmony and brotherhood in our community.


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