An overlong and uninteresting first-person novel, bearing all the signs of a roman clef, about the New York Orthodox Jewish...

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"RABBI, RABBI"

An overlong and uninteresting first-person novel, bearing all the signs of a roman clef, about the New York Orthodox Jewish community. Yakov Eisen, son of a well-known ultra-Orthodox rabbi in Borough Park, Brooklyn, is having a crisis of faith. Although raised to follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps to study for ordination at the Mir Yeshiva and become a rabbi and scholar, Yakov wants to attend the less Orthodox Yeshiva University and learn secular philosophy as well as religious subjects. And as if this weren't enough to break his rigidly observant father's already weak heart, Yakov also falls in love with an amazingly unsuitable woman: Rebecca, whom Yakov meets as a teenager in an Orthodox resort -- Dirty Dancing meets A Stranger Among Us -- is not only the daughter of Rabbi Eisen's former best friend and his ex-fianc‚e. Worse, she's also studying to become a rabbi, an occupation forbidden to Orthodox Jewish women. But Yakov never gets to confront his father about Rebecca: Just as he is agonizing over whether or not to commit to her, and therefore to her religious choices, his father dies suddenly of a heart attack. Rabbi Eisen's death is a turning point for Yakov: He finally realizes that Orthodoxy is important to him but that he can't practice it the way he would like in America. Only in Israel can Yakov find peace, happiness, and a new beginning. By the close, he is a loving husband and father, an eminent scholar in medical ethics, and unbearably smug. In fact, throughout his story, Yakov is self-righteous -- even during those times he claims to be filled with doubts and misgivings. Readers in the know may want to look at Kane's detailed portraits of Jewish leaders in New York; but, otherwise, this is a debut with little individual draw.

Pub Date: April 10, 1995

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wyatt/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995