- Publisher: ALGONQUIN BOOKS; First Edition edition (2010)
- ISBN-10: 156512619X
- ISBN-13: 978-1565126190
- ASIN: B004WJQ75C
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,735,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Frozen Rabbi Paperback – 2010
The Amazon Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
The frozen rabbi himself dates from the 18th century. For 300 years he has been sealed in ice and transported from one eastern European location to the next until he makes the voyage to the Lower East Side and then on to Memphis, Tennessee. The book has alternating chapters--the historical periods of several centuries, the most pages given to the period of 1880 or so to 1920s, and contemporary times when the rebbe comes back to life and lives with a family in Memphis.
I loved loved loved the chapters from the past. We have pogroms, we have a girl disguised as a boy in order to escape certain death, we have the Jewish mafia, and we have an unlikely and tender love story. We have kabbala and numerology, we have kreplach and pickled herring. The contemporary chapters paled by comparison for me. A friend is reading the book right now as I type, and he loves both sections equally. He finds the rabbi-cum-entrepreneur falling in love with game shows and soap operas on TV, and via this medium learning English, the best part of the book.
Perhaps another reviewer who is a better writer can adequately describe the language of the book. There's a lot of Yiddish, only haphazardly defined.Read more ›
In "The Frozen Rabbi," Stern returns to the vanished, quasi-mythical Jewish Memphis that he's been painstakingly reconstructing ever since "Lazar Malkin" with this story of 15-year old shlub Bernie Karp, and his accidental discovery of a Hasidic rebbe in a block of ice in his apathetic and assimilated family's deep freeze. The discovery sets off a rollicking account of how the ancestral Karps obtained and shlepped the old boy from Russian shtetls to the crime-sodden ghettos of Lodz and the Lower East Side, to British Mandate Palestine and ultimately to Memphis. Stern juxtaposes the historical account with the modern-day mayhem that the thawed-out holy man wreaks upon Bernie and his family when, intoxicated by the lascivity and commercialized banality of modern American spirituality, he gleefully fires up his own "name it and claim it" born-again cult, equal parts Jewish Renewal movement, Jim Jones, and Tammy Faye Bakker.
Stern's accomplishment is spin what could have been a clunky metaphor--a rabbi frozen in a block of ice as the Karp family's own Jewishness, with both its burdensome inconvenience and obligations and its rich vibrancy--into a compelling yarn. He deftly uses the symbolism of ice's dual nature--something that both petrifies and preserves--to shape the family's character, livelihoods, and destinies throughout their generations of the rabbi's stewardship, and does so amazingly entertainingly.Read more ›
There are two stories here. The first concerns the nominally Jewish teen Bernie Karp --- overweight, boring and irritating --- stimulated only by food and pornography. In Memphis, Tennessee, he lives with his equally reprobate family, as uncaring, unpleasant and spiritually deadened as he. One day, while rifling through the basement freezer, Bernie discovers an old Chasid frozen in a block of ice. His father casually remarks that it's a family heirloom, over a hundred years old, and lets the matter drop. And so it does, until Bernie is home alone for the weekend during a thunderstorm that cuts the house's power, and the rabbi thaws. And so begins the rabbi's --- a well-practiced, slightly batty mystic --- adventures into a consumerist America that treats enlightenment as both a commodity and a drug.
As Bernie wrestles with his newfound sense of Judaism, he studies the tract written by his grandfather that tells the second story of the novel: how the rabbi arrived in America from a tiny village in Poland, frozen all the way. This isn't your classic immigrant story. The characters are all pleasantly mad, and events range from magical to nonsensical. But the story winds up, like so many immigrant tales do, in New York's Lower East Side, depicted as an underworld and a fantasy, a home to gangsters and honest men.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this book twice from Amazon. Once I bought Hardbound book and once a Kindle book. This was awhile ago. I couldn't get into it either time, in either format. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Denise
The story was fascinating; very interesting concept. However, it took a little getting used to when time frame was changed. All in all though, a good book.Published 4 months ago by B Lewis
It is an excellent book from the biggining up to the middle, after that I found it boring and couldn't finish it.Published 8 months ago by Maria
I thought it was going to be a Rip van Winkle tale, but turned out to be much more. It gets kind of weird in a mystical way. I enjoyed the author's writing style.Published 14 months ago by Steve-o
Very clever, but sloggy going. Best read a few pages at a sitting.Published 16 months ago by Stanley Cramer
This book maintained my interest sufficiently to make me want to read all of it, BUT I would not reccommend it to anyone else. Read morePublished 19 months ago by ADAM