Thursday, October 30, 2014

Izzy Schwartz, A Peasant In King Arthur's Court

King Arthur, England's legendary 6th century King, along with his Knights of the Round Table are famous for their brilliance, courage and chivalry.

But what isn't well known is the important role played by Israel "Izzy" Schwartz that made King Arthur such a success.

Izzy was a peasant, who with his wife Dotty and son Morris had a small farm and raised just enough vegetables to feed themselves and to sell to their neighbors.

But Izzy was a font of Jewish wisdom, and when he learned King Arthur was often indecisive and terrible at managing his nation's finances, he said to Dotty, "What am I, chopped liver?

"We gotta do something."

And do something Izzy did. Each week he walked to the gates of King Arthur's giant castle, Camelot, and handed the guards a note for King Arthur.

One note read, "Dear Artie, You're such a clever guy. But the crooks running the stock market on London Square are making big money but not paying taxes, at a time when the overhead of your Knights is eating the rest of us taxpayers alive.

"You gotta audit those crooks and collect that money."

Another note read, "Dear Artie, Your Camelot moat water is creating a horrific stench. You have to clean it up before you get cited by the British Environmental Board."

Still another note read, "Dear Artie, Do you know what you are paying for a suit of armor? It is way too much for what you are receiving. And there is no return policy if you are dissatisfied. You need competitive bidding."

These notes continued each week for about a year, when one day, a gallant Knight on a white steed rode up to Izzy's farm. "You sir are commanded by our great and noble King Arthur to appear before him this very afternoon," said the Knight in a booming voice.

"I'll be right up," Izzy replied. "Right after I make my vegetable deliveries."

That afternoon when Izzy reached Camelot, he was wearing the clothes of a peasant for that was all he could afford. The guards swung open the gates to the castle and walked him in. There he was greeted by staff in formal dress who escorted him to King Arthur.

King Arthur was a large, regal man with silver hair, and a deep voice and he had a quick smile and a hearty laugh. He too was in formal attire, attire befitting a King.

"Izzy," he said in his deep voice. "This last year you have offered me wonderful advice.

"But for all of my well educated royalty, I have no-one who knows how to audit London Square crooks, deal with environmental issues, shop prices and get the other practical elements in order, to effectively run Camelot and the nation.

"I would like you and your family to move into Camelot, and I will put you in charge of day to day operations."

"Not so fast Artie," Izzy replied.

"Many of your royalty won't respond to my direction because I'm a peasant and I'm Jewish. Will my words carry your authority?"

"They will," answered a smiling King Arthur, who already admired Izzy's chutzpah in speaking to a King this way.

And so it came to pass. Over the years, Izzy and his family lived in Camelot, as Izzy got the castle and the nation's business in order.

And King Arthur became renowned in all of England and in Europe for being an enlightened ruler who ran what became a top caliber country.

So unlike King Arthur, why is Izzy not famous?

As Izzy said, "King Arthur and his Knights in Shining Armor capture the heart and the imagination. 'I can get it for you wholesale,' does not.

"But as anyone who has ever run a business or a household can tell you, it is the uncelebrated heroes like us, that really make things happen."


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