By Madina Toure
When Ed Schauder, president of the Free Synagogue in Flushing, was nominated by a close friend for the 2016 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, he did not think too much of it.
“I honestly thought I was just appeasing (Dr.) Paul (Jhin),” Schauder said. “Let me fill out a couple paragraphs for him. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would win the award.”
Dr. Kyo “Paul” Jhin, CEO of 3KSoftware USA and executive director of Reborn Veterans Job Initiative, received the medal last year. He has served as an adviser under former Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.
The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, recognizes the contributions made by immigrants and their children to the United States. Schauder’s mother, Shirley Schauder, who is in her 80s, escaped from Nazi Germany in the 1940s.
She was taken to Sweden after World War II ended in 1945. She came to the United States in January 1949 and was taken to Ellis Island, where she had to be escorted by guards and screened for illnesses.
She changed her name from “Ivy” to “Shirley” to become more Americanized.
“I came from a beautiful country, Sweden, and I couldn’t understand why they take me to this place and Ellis Island was like prison,” Shirley said.
Ed Schauder gave the medal to his mother May 8, a day before Mother’s Day.
“It wasn’t easy being raised by her because as a Holocaust survivor, she went through a lot of post-traumatic stress syndrome,” he said. “She’s very nervous, she’s very anxious but proud. This was my way of acknowledging her.”
Schauder, a Brooklyn native who lives in Flushing, has been practicing law for nearly 30 years.
He has negotiated sponsorship and endorsement agreements in transactions involving iconic athletes, entertainers and brands such as the 1969 New York Mets, Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team and the 1994 New York Rangers. He also co-founded and served as general counsel for the not-for-profit Negro League Baseball Players Association and to the 2011 World Police and Fire Games.
As president of the Free Synagogue, he said he has helped revive the house of worship that almost closed down ahead of its 100th anniversary.
“I volunteered to put together a bond offering to keep it afloat,” he said. “Now we’re about to close a real estate transaction that will make us one of the wealthiest synagogues in the country.”
His father was born in Germany but escaped Nazi Germany and went to China. He joined the Merchant Marines and became a U.S. citizen.
Edward’s father, who died in 1996, was a taxi driver and his mother was a bookkeeper and also worked at a senior center.
He said his mother is committed to leaving a strong legacy for him and his 50-year-old brother. He and his wife Nicole, 54, have three children: Andrew, 18; Matthew, 15; and Naomi, 13.
But his mother’s ownership of the award was short-lived. Shirley conspired with his wife, Nicole, 54, to give it back to him under the belief that no one visits her place, which she said is filled with more than enough memorabilia.
“I’m very proud and I’m honored and I’m very moved that he wanted me to have it and I still feel, I’m convinced that he deserves it,” she said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour