- Category : Humanities+Social-Sciences-Historian
- Type : GE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Contagion 4
Jewish French historian.
Aged 20, he first met Charles Péguy, the start of a long friendship, marked in particular by their creation of the review Cahiers de la Quinzaine and their joint support of Dreyfus in the Dreyfus affair.
In 1936, he was made inspector-general of public instruction. At the end of 1940, he was removed from office under the Vichy regime due to the statute discriminating against Jews. Isaac's wife and daughter were arrested at Riom on 7 October 1943, then deported to Auschwitz and killed there. His son was also arrested, but succeeded in escaping from a camp in Germany. In 1945, Jules Isaac was re-established in his rights as honorary inspector-general.
Jules Isaac dedicated a large part of his efforts to research into the causes of antisemitism. He published Jésus et Israël, edited during the war, then inspired by the Charte de Seelisberg. Cofounder, with Edmond Fleg among others, and active member of "Amitiés judéo-chrétiennes" in 1947, he was particularly engaged in fighting anti-Semitism's Christian origins, which he saw as decisive. His essential idea was to make Early Christianity's Jewish origins better valued.
In 1949, he advised Pope Pius XII to revise the Good Friday prayer, which previously contained offensive references to the Jews, to wit, the words "perfidious Jews." He also noted that Catholics did not kneel when they prayed for the Jews on Good Friday, though they knelt for all the other petitions. Pope Pius modified the language and implemented a kneeling posture as Isaac had suggested. He thus helped start the road that led to Vatican II's declaration Nostra Ætate (1965), whose paragraph #4 represents a monumental shift in perspective towards the Jews in Roman Catholic thought.
Jules Isaac died on 6 September 1963 in Aix-en-Provence.