Our Friday lunch at the club ended. I mentioned to Branca the approaching Sabbath.
“I have to get my money from Mrs. Lichtenfeld,” Branca said.
What? I asked. Branca explained. He told me that as a boy in Mount Vernon, he had lighted the stove for a Jewish neighbor every Friday night. He had been a Shabbos goy, doing something that was forbidden for Jews to do on the Sabbath.
Here was a memory that elevated experience over genes, that affirmed Branca’s sense of self. He was a Catholic, not a Jew.
"If I was Jewish, I couldn’t have done it,” he said. He added, “I’m not going to sell my soul for a penny.”