Jules Isaac 1877-1963
Associate professor of history, author of the famous school textbooks, the Malet-Isaac, general inspector of public education, Jules Isaac placed his entire life at the service of the training of youth, the search for truth, peace and reconciliation.
Coming from a Jewish family from Alsace-Lorraine, he was born in Rennes in 1877, as a result of the career of a military father. Raised in the cult of the homeland and the Republic, he was “French to the marrow of his bones”.
Companion of Charles Péguy, hired to defend Captain Dreyfus in the name of justice, he fought in the trenches and, at the end of the war, he worked for Franco-German reconciliation.
Driven out of teaching by the Vichy regime, he became a pariah. He then redirected his work towards researching the roots of anti-Semitism.
Despite the disappearance of his wife Laure and his daughter Juliette in the hell of Auschwitz, he found the courage to open a dialogue with the Christian world based on historical knowledge of the birth of Christianity by recalling the Jewishness of Jesus and by demonstrating the inanity of the accusations made for centuries against the Jews. He published his great book Jesus and Israel in 1948, at the same time as he founded the Judeo-Christian Friendship of France.
The visit he made to Pope John XXIII on June 13, 1960 was decisive in changing the Church's view of Judaism and putting an end, with the Nostra Aetate declaration of the Second Vatican Council, to two thousand years of contempt. and tragic ignorance. In this sense, his work was prophetic and revolutionary. He died on September 5, 1963.