The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern is a fictional book about an 18th Century rabbi brought back to life in the 20th Century. The book serves as a wonderful commentary on today’s society.
- 400 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616200529
The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern tells the story of a modern messiah, a holy man who woke up at the age of self adulation and the where personal shame is shared instead of hidden. The author juxtaposed between two timelines, a modern one and how the rabbi, frozen in ice, came from a small village in Poland to America.
I found myself immersed in the story of the frozen rabbi’s journeys across Europe and oceans. The characters are interesting and funny as well as the interest they take in this frozen holy man. The characters in modern times are not as interesting, but more self indulged as society which the old rabbi takes advantage of. They are interested in self-improvement, but only towards the outside world, whereas the old Jews are interested in self-improvement from within. However, the author keeps his sharp sense of humor throughout, weaving in a mixture of Yiddish humor and current pop-culture references.
In the omnipresent news broadcasts the old man showed little interest: The relentless advance of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse was already a stale subject on earth even before the rabbi had entered his suspended condition. But about the splenetic woman who conducted a daily din toyreh, splitting hairs over laws concerning two-timers and clip artists with the perspicacity of a Daniel; about the smug gentleman who encouraged public loshen horeh (gossip) and orchestrated encounters between parties of mutual betrayal; about the portly schwartze who invited intimate confessions from her guests and wept openly over their Jo-like afflictions; about antic surgeons, garrulous chef, faithless couples, deceitful castaways, teenage exorcists, and the Jew repeatedly duped into fornication with shikses, old Eliezer was deeply inquisitive. He was especially interested to observe the willingness of citizens to air their indiscretions in public forums.
This book is written in a mixture of English spiced with Yiddish language and idioms. While I found the premise and the writing both funny and interesting, I thought the schtick of mixing the two languages was a bit overdone and grew stale towards the end. However, I still read it with interest and chuckled along the way.
Bernie Karp, a 15 year old couch potato, son to a successful businessman in Memphis, TN accidentally stumbles upon a froze rabbi in the basement’s freezer. When asked, Bernie’s father explains that: “. “Some people got taxidermied pets in the attic, we got a frozen rabbi in the basement. It’s a family tradition.”
How the rabbi came to be in the Karps’ freezer is a journey worth a book by itself, written in a manuscript found with the rabbi. As Bernie reads the manuscript his life changes, he find a girlfriend, loses weight and becomes enlightened. However the rabbi sees our society for what it is, goes in the spiritual business while leaving spirituality behind.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I bought this book.
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