Born in 1919 in Sarny Poland, Judel was one of many children born to Anna and Avram Schuster. Avram, a disabled World War I veteran, supported his family meagerly with his disability pension. At the age of 13, Judel was sent to live with the Brick family as an indentured servant. Judel spent the first year drawing water from the well and cleaning the house for the family. Mr. Brick, however, made good on the promise to train Judel to be a qualified tailor in exchange for his work. Although Judel had little formal education, the Brick family, including the young children, treated him lovingly and Judel felt like he was part of their family. In the late 30’s, the Soviet Union occupied Sarny and annexed it to the western Ukraine.
In 1939, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. Judel was taken into the Soviet Army at the age of 20 and left Sarny for the first time in his life. He traveled eastward as the Soviets retreated and ultimately was in Stalingrad during the siege and historic battle for this city. The civilian losses were so great during the siege that the Soviets re-populated the city with people from outside the region. In 1943, Pauline Rachman was relocated to Stalingrad from a Siberian labor camp and eventually married Judel.
After the war, with the help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, they traveled westward in search of living relatives. Upon return to Sarny, they learned that Judel had a surviving brother who was in a displaced persons camp in Italy. Unfortunately, Judel was recognized as a Jew in Sarny and a local Ukrainian gang threw him off a streetcar. He suffered a broken femur and was delayed by several months in his quest to find his brother.
After recovering from this injury the young couple found their way to Italy where they joined Judel’s brother, Itzhak, in a displaced camp near Anzio Beach. After 2 ½ years in the camp, Judel and Pauline were given permission to immigrate to the United States. They arrived in December of 1949 with their first of 3 children in tow. Judel worked his entire life as a tailor. He raised 3 children, and lived to see 7 grandchildren. He died in Birmingham, Alabama in 1998.