A story of love and racial tension set in Brooklyn as it spans across decades and transforms the lives of Kane’s (Rabbi, Rabbi, 1995) three main characters.
When Joshua Eubanks finds trouble in his predominantly black Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and falls in with the local criminal element, his single mother, Loretta, moves them to the Jewish enclave of Crown Heights. Their new digs are funded by Loretta’s employer, Alfred Sims. His son, Paul, has his own problems: rebelling against his father by devoting himself to the Jewish identity his father long sought to shed. Rachel Weissman is the beautiful daughter of the rabbi who serves as Paul’s religious mentor. Paul is obsessed with Rachel, and Joshua also falls prey to her charms after straightening himself out and getting a job as a janitor in her father’s yeshiva. This could have been a simple love triangle, but Kane is much more ambitious than that; these characters grow up, learn and change over the course of more than three decades. The story is rooted in the personal struggles of each of these characters, but Kane also details the inner workings of the neighborhoods around them, providing important historical context. All three are bullied because of their race, which prevents the narrative from become overly righteous on anyone’s behalf. The author doesn’t ignore the existence of truly evil intent but instead shows how some of the worst tensions and violence sprout from tragic accidents and mishaps. There are no easy scapegoats, and even some of the more stereotypical characters, like a conservative rabbi and militant black professor, are capable of surprise. At times the rising action snags on some new detail or minor character Kane introduces late in the narrative, but very little here could be considered extraneous.
In revealing the very human side of racial tension, Kane offers up an engaging and heartfelt tale.