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Monday the Rabbi Took Off
     

Monday the Rabbi Took Off

5.0 2
by Harry Kemelman
 

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A bomb plot draws Rabbi Small into international intrigue while he’s vacationing in the Holy Land in this New York Times–bestselling novel

David Small has spent 6 years as the rabbi of Barnard’s Crossing, Massachusetts, and every year his job has been in crisis. In desperate need of time away, he embarks on a 3-month trip

Overview

A bomb plot draws Rabbi Small into international intrigue while he’s vacationing in the Holy Land in this New York Times–bestselling novel

David Small has spent 6 years as the rabbi of Barnard’s Crossing, Massachusetts, and every year his job has been in crisis. In desperate need of time away, he embarks on a 3-month trip to Israel. He expects a relaxing, soul-nourishing stay, but wherever Rabbi Small goes, murder follows.
 
A bombing disrupts his vacation and the rabbi finds himself thrust into a world of terrorism and political discord in the divided city of Jerusalem. He teams up with an Orthodox Israeli cop to hunt down the terrorists before they can attack again. Dispensing Jewish wisdom as he employs his astute detective skills, Rabbi Small might be the only one who can crack this explosive case.
 

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Here are three more installations in the wonderful Rabbi Small mystery series. In Saturday (1966), Small finds himself comforting the widow of a man who apparently committed suicide. Yet once the rabbi begins to look at the facts, he's not so sure the police have drawn the right conclusion. In Sunday (1969), Small again comes to the aid of his congregation when murder unfolds. On Monday (1972), Small takes a trip to Israel, but no matter where he goes, the rabbi seems to land himself in a kosher pickle. The mysteries are always laced with Talmudic law and numerous subplots that connect up at the end. Terrific. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781504016070
Publisher:
Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller
Publication date:
08/04/2015
Series:
Rabbi Small Mysteries
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
361
Sales rank:
21,989
File size:
843 KB

Read an Excerpt

Monday the Rabbi Took Off

A Rabbi Small Mystery


By Harry Kemelman

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 2002 Ann Kemelman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-1607-0


CHAPTER 1

From the sofa in the living room where she was immersed in the Sunday paper, Miriam heard the door between the breezeway and the kitchen open and close. She called out, "David?" and when her husband came into the room, "Mr. Raymond called just after you left. It sounded important."

Rabbi David Small nodded, rubbing his hands from the cold. He crossed the room to stand in front of the radiator. "I saw him at the temple."

"You didn't wear your coat?" she said.

"I just had to walk from the car to the vestry door of the temple."

"And you've been having colds all winter."

"Just one cold —"

Although in good health, Rabbi Small was thin and pale and had a kind of nearsighted, scholarly stoop which made him seem older than his thirty-five years. His mother was always urging Miriam to coax him to eat.

"But it's lasted all winter. Was it about the contract he wanted to see you?"

He shook his head. "No, it was to tell me that the board had voted not to hold the congregational Seder this coming Passover."

She could see that he was disturbed. "But it's not far four months yet."

"Four and a half months," he corrected her. "But there's nothing like being beforehand. He told me so that as superintendent of the religious school I could inform the principal not to start coaching the children for their part in the service. That's called going through channels, like when I was a chaplain in the Army, I had to tell Pastor Bellson anything I wanted rather than talk to the colonel directly."

She could not fail to notice the bitterness in his tone. "Did he say why they decided not to hold it?"

"Not until I asked him. He said the last two years we lost money on the affair."

She looked up at him, "Does it bother you?"

"It bothers me that I wasn't invited to discuss it with the board. I've got over being bothered about not sitting in on board meetings. Although after six years where each new board invited me to attend, the failure of this board to ask me is rather pointed. But this question of the Passover is so peculiarly within the area of the rabbi's jurisdiction, you'd think they'd want to know my views. If I am not to pass on matters of this sort, then what is my function here? Am I just a functionary in charge of ceremonials? Do they think —"

"But are you sure it was intentional, David?" she asked anxiously. He was so irritable of late. She tried to mollify him. "They're new at the game; maybe they just don't realize —"

"New at the game! They've been in office for three months now. And if they are in doubt about what is proper, there are people they can ask. No, it's their entire attitude. They're in control, and I'm just an employee. Take the matter of my contract —"

"Did he mention it?" she asked quickly.

"He did not."

"And you didn't either?"

"I mentioned it when it was due to expire," he said stiffly, "and that should be sufficient. Do you expect me to keep asking them? Am I supposed to wheedle it out of them?"

"But you're working without a contract."

"So?"

"So they could fire you. They could give you a month's notice telling you that your services were no longer required."

"I suppose they could. And I could do the same to them. I could notify them that I was leaving." He smiled impishly. "I'm rather tempted."

"Oh, you wouldn't."

He left the radiator to pace the floor.

"Why not? It might be a good idea, now I think of it. What would I lose? The few months to the end of the year? If they haven't given me a contract so far, it can only mean that they have no intention of reappointing me next year. Why else haven't they talked to me about it? Why else haven't they asked me to attend board meetings? And this today — just telling me that they're not going to hold the community Seder. Yes, I'm sure that's what they have in mind. I am supposed to go through the motions for the rest of the year — marrying people, making little speeches at Bar Mitzvahs, giving my sermons on Friday night services — then they'll notify me that for next year they are planning to make a change. Well, why not beat them to the punch?"

"Oh, they wouldn't," Miriam protested. "They couldn't get away with it. Mr. Wasserman and all your friends would put up a fight —"

"Well, I'm not so sure that I want a fight. Why should I have to fight? How long before I am accepted? I've been here six years now. I'm on my seventh year, and there's been a crisis about my job almost every year. They've either tried to fire me or done something that left me no choice but to resign. I'm sick of it. It shouldn't be a condition of a man's employment that he should have to spend his time and energy just to keep his job. His energies should go into doing the work that the job involves."

"Well," Miriam pointed out, "the last board was planning to give you a life contract and a year's sabbatical leave as well."

"I heard rumors to that effect, and I suppose I would have accepted it if they had," he said moodily. "And yet what good is a life contract? It binds me, but it doesn't bind them. Any time they want to get rid of me, they have only to propose something outrageous that I couldn't live with, and I'd resign. Isn't that what happened when I made a rabbinic decision on the matter of burying poor Isaac Hirsch, and Mort Schwarz, who was president at that time, overrode me and ordered the body exhumed? Well, if you remember, that was during the first year of my five-year contract. And I had no choice but to resign."

"But they didn't accept your resignation," Miriam said.

"Oh, they would have all right if it hadn't been for the Goralskys whom they were honeying up to. And only last year, didn't Ben Gorfinkle actually tell me he was going to pay me off for the few remaining months of my contract and fire me right in the middle of the year?"

"Yes, but he and his friends on the board thought you were turning their kids against them. It was just a power play. I'm sure they wouldn't have gone through with it. Your friends on the board, Wasserman and Becker and the others, would have stopped it."

"But Wasserman and Becker didn't stop it," he said. "The best they could do was to offer me a job in another congregation they were thinking of starting up. Only when those same kids got involved in a murder case did it save my job. And that same Becker, I might add, was the man who led the opposition to me the very first year I was here and was all for dropping me when not only my job but my neck was at stake."

"Oh, David," Miriam reproved him, "that's ancient history. Becker's been as strong a backer for you as Wasserman ever since. You surely don't hold his opposition the first year against him."

"I don't hold the opposition of any of them against them," he said, "neither Becker nor Schwarz nor Gorfinkle. They were all doing what they thought was for the best. Maybe the only one I should resent is Jacob Wasserman."

Miriam looked at him incredulously. "Wasserman! Why, he's been your friend from the beginning. He's the one who brought you here and kept you here against all opposition."

The rabbi nodded.

"Well, that's what I mean. He's been too good to me. Maybe if that first year he had gone along with the majority opinion, I would have left here and got another job with another congregation. Maybe I've had to fight for my job here because I don't really belong. If after six years, I still have to fight for my job, maybe it's the wrong job. Maybe another congregation —"

"But they're all like this, David," Miriam said, "all the suburban congregations."

"Then maybe it's me. Maybe I'm not flexible enough. Maybe I don't belong in the rabbinate at all, at least running a congregation. Maybe I ought to be in teaching or research or organizational work." He sat down on the sofa and faced her. "Do you remember last Passover, Miriam, when we were sure I was through here and we decided that instead of hunting around for another job right away, we'd go to Israel instead?"

"So?"

The hint of a smile crossed his face. "So why don't we do it? If they can send me packing with a month's notice, why can't I leave with the same notice to them?"

"You mean resign your job?" She was visibly shocked at the idea.

"Oh, not necessarily resign. I could ask for a leave of absence."

"And if they didn't grant it?"

"I'd take it just the same. I'm tired and fed up and sick of this place. Do you realize that we've been here six years and I haven't had a vacation in all that time. In the summer things slow down. The religious school is closed, and there are no holidays or Friday evening services, but there are weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, and people get sick and expect me to come to visit them, and people come to see me about things that are troubling them. But except for an occasional weekend, we haven't been away at all. I've got to get away where I can be with myself for a while." He smiled. "And in Israel it would be warm."

"I suppose we could take one of those three-week tours," she said, considering. "We could see the sights and —"

"I don't want to see the sights," he retorted. "They're either new buildings or the remains of old ones or holes in the ground. I want to live in Jerusalem for a while. We Jews have been yearning for Jerusalem for centuries. Every year at Passover and Yom Kippur we say, 'Next year in Jerusalem.' Last Passover when we said it, we really meant it. We really thought we would go. At least I did. All right, now is our chance. I have no contract binding me."

"But the board would regard it as the equivalent of resigning," she said, "and to give up one's job —"

"Well, suppose they do? We're young yet and can afford to take chances."

Miriam looked at him apprehensively. "But for how long?"

"Oh, I don't know," he said easily, "three, four months, longer maybe; long enough to feel we were living there, not just visiting."

"But what would you do there?" she asked.

"What do other people do there?"

"Well, the people that live there, work. And tourists are kept busy just sightseeing —"

"Oh, if you're worried about how I'd keep busy, I could finish my Ibn Ezra paper for the Quarterly. I've done all the research; I've got all my notes. What I need now is lots of uninterrupted time to write it."

She looked at him, his face eager, so like little Jonathan pleading for some special privilege. More, she felt his desperate need. "This isn't something you've just thought of, David. You've been thinking about it for some time, haven't you?"

"All my life."

"No, but I mean —"

He faced her directly. "Last year, when it looked as though I were through here, I thought we could go before I started looking for another job. When else would we get the chance? Then when it turned out that this job was going to continue, I suppose I should have been glad that I was going to continue to draw a salary. But I wasn't. I'd had my heart set on going — and now I can't get it out of my mind."

"But to give up a job —"

"I'll be able to get another when we come back," he said. "And the chances are I won't have this one next year anyway."

She smiled. "All right, David. I'll write to my Aunt Gittel."

Now it was his turn to look surprised. "What's she got to do with it?"

Miriam put down the newspaper and folded it neatly beside her. "I've followed you, David, in every important decision. When you turned down that job in Chicago that paid so much money because you didn't like the kind of congregation it seemed to be, I agreed, although we were living on my salary as a typist and whatever you could pick up in the way of an occasional holiday job in some small town. And then there was the job in Louisiana that you didn't want. And the job of assistant rabbi in Cleveland that paid more than most regular jobs for rabbis just graduating because you said you didn't want to subordinate your thinking to another rabbi. And when you wanted to resign your jobs here during the Schwarz regime, I went along even though I was carrying Jonathan at the time and wasn't too keen on having to move to another town and find a place to live with a new infant. And now you want to take a chance on losing this job so you can go and live in Jerusalem for a while. Again I'll follow your lead. You're in charge of grand strategy. But you're not so good on tactics. If we're going to live in Jerusalem for several months, we'll have to have a place to stay. We can't live in a hotel for all that time. We can't afford it. Besides, in a hotel you're always a visitor rather than a resident. So I'll write my Aunt Gittel, who's been living in Israel since the days of the British occupation. I'll tell her what we're planning and see if she can find us an apartment to rent."

"But she lives in Tel Aviv and I want to stay in Jerusalem."

"You don't know my Aunt Gittel."

CHAPTER 2

Bert Raymond rapped the meeting to order. "I think we can probably dispense with the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. We didn't do much as I recall."

Ben Gorfinkle raised his hand. "I'd like to hear the minutes, Mr. Chairman," he said evenly.

"Oh, well sure, Ben. Will you read the minutes, Barry?"

"Well, Bert, I mean Mr. Chairman, I didn't get around to writing them up. I mean I got my notes, but it's like in rough draft."

"Well, that's all right, Barry. I'm sure Ben will overlook any little mistakes in grammar —"

"What I was going to say is that not having it in final form, and since we didn't decide on anything special last meeting, I didn't think it worthwhile bringing my notes."

The president was a tall, nice-looking young man, a good guy that everyone liked and no one would think of embarrassing needlessly; he was obviously uncomfortable at the secretary's negligence. Gorfinkle shrugged his shoulders. "I guess if nothing happened, it doesn't make any difference." With this new board, there were so many major things to object to, it seemed fruitless to jib at a little matter like not reading the minutes.

"Okay," said the president gratefully, "then let's get on with the important business of this meeting. What's your pleasure on the rabbi's letter?"

Again Gorfinkle raised his hand. "I guess I must have missed something last meeting. I didn't hear about any letter from the rabbi."

The president was contrite. "Gee, that's right, Ben, you don't know about it. I got it during the week, and I talked to some of the boys about it, so I assumed everyone knew. I got this letter from the rabbi asking for a leave of absence for three months starting the first of the year."

"May I see the letter?"

"Actually, I don't have it with me, Ben. But there's nothing in it — just what I said. You know, 'Please regard this as a request for a three-month leave of absence.' That kind of thing, just a straight business letter."

"He gave no reason for his request?" Gorfinkle asked.

"No, just what I told you —"

"I tell you it's a ploy," interrupted Stanley Agranat. "He's not interested in a leave of absence. What he's interested in is a contract. He sends us this letter so we got to go to him and say, 'What gives, Rabbi?' Then he says he wants to take off for three months. So we say, 'But, Rabbi, you can't take off three months in the middle of the year like this. You got a job here.' So he plays Mickey the Dunce and says, 'Oh, have I? I don't have no contract.' Then we got to kind of make it up to him and explain how we haven't had a chance to get around to the matter of contract and how we're sorry and all that crap. And that's supposed to put us on the defensive, see? It's just a ploy."

"So what if we say no?" demanded Arnold Bookspan. "When you showed me that letter, Bert, I said right away it was an ultimatum. He's not asking us, he's telling us. Now, if he's a bona fide employee of the temple, he can't take off just like that. And if he can take off just like that, then as I see it, he's not a bona fide employee of the temple."

"Well, look, guys," said the president, "fair is fair. They always work on a contract, and we let his run out."

"We ought to go about this logically," said Paul Goodman, who, like the president, was a lawyer and had a methodical mind. "First we ought to decide if we need a rabbi at all, then —"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Monday the Rabbi Took Off by Harry Kemelman. Copyright © 2002 Ann Kemelman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Harry Kemelman (1908–1996) was best known for his popular rabbinical mystery series featuring the amateur sleuth Rabbi David Small. Kemelman wrote twelve novels in the series, the first of which, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. This book was also adapted as an NBC made-for-TV movie, and the Rabbi Small Mysteries were the inspiration for the NBC television show Lanigan’s Rabbi. Kemelman’s novels garnered praise for their unique combination of mystery and Judaism, and with Rabbi Small, the author created a protagonist who played a part-time detective with wit and charm. Kemelman also wrote a series of short stories about Nicky Welt, a college professor who used logic to solve crimes, which were published in a collection entitled The Nine Mile Walk.
 
Aside from being an award-winning novelist, Kemelman, originally from Boston, was also an English professor.
Harry Kemelman (1908–1996) was best known for his popular rabbinical mystery series featuring the amateur sleuth Rabbi David Small. Kemelman wrote twelve novels in the series, the first of which, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. This book was also adapted as an NBC made-for-TV movie, and the Rabbi Small Mysteries were the inspiration for the NBC television show Lanigan’s Rabbi. Kemelman’s novels garnered praise for their unique combination of mystery and Judaism, and with Rabbi Small, the author created a protagonist who played a part-time detective with wit and charm. Kemelman also wrote a series of short stories about Nicky Welt, a college professor who used logic to solve crimes, which were published in a collection entitled The Nine Mile Walk.
Aside from being an award-winning novelist, Kemelman, originally from Boston, was also an English professor.

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Monday the Rabbi Took Off 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful storyl