RABBI, RABBI by Andrew Kane


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 An overlong and uninteresting first-person novel, bearing all the signs of a roman Ö 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- fiancÇe. Worse, she's also studying to become a rabbi, an occupation forbidden to Orthodox Jewish women. But Yakov never gets to confront his father with 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. Although unable to resolve his conflicts with his father personally, 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, Yakov is a loving husband and father, an eminent scholar in the field of 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; otherwise, there is little to recommend in this puerile debut.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-11879-1
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995