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The Frozen Rabbi (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 16. August 2012

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A recent article in "The Jewish Review of Books" (Spring 2010) lamented the paucity of Jewish fantasy books. While there are no lions symbolizing deities, we now have "The Frozen Rabbi." Eliezer ben Zephyr, a nineteenth century mystic, was in a meditative trance when bad weather struck, submerging him in a newly formed pond, where he froze. Bernie Karp is a twenty-first century teenager who discovers ben Zephyr in the freezer in his parents basement. When he questions his parents, he learns that the rabbi has been handed down through the family as a sort of talisman. An equally fierce storm hits Memphis, knocking out power, and when Bernie checks on the rabbi, he has defrosted. The book starts with Bernie s discovery of the rabbi, and proceeds in alternating chapters, catching the reading up on how the rabbi got to Bernie s basement, then continuing with Bernie s changing life and the Rabbi s endeavors. Rabbi ben Zephyr acquaints himself with modern society by watching television all day. He then decides that America is lacking spirituality and convinces Bernie s father, an appliance salesman, to finance the rabbi s House of Enlightenment, where he will peddle be-a-ti-tude, and also sell a few specialty items on the side books and talismans, red string to ward off the evil eye, everything marked up and elegantly repackaged of course.
Out of the most bizarre circumstances, things seem reasonable, and part of what makes this book so enjoyable is seeing how Mr. Stern gets his characters from one place to another and how the absurd starts to make sense. Without giving away too much of this romp through modern Jewish history, the rabbi, suspended in ice is passed down, almost like a "mesorah." Yosl King of Cholera from Boibicz, who married Chava Babtcheh, her that died from giving birth to Salo that they called him Frostbissen, who married the sharp-tongued Basha Puah who begot in Lodz first the twins Yachneh and Yoyneh, who ran away to Palestine, then me, Jocheved, who begot in America with my poor husband Shmerl your father Ruben Karp, who was in the Yichud a holy terror before he got wed to his wife that was shlangbissen, snakebit after already she begot you The rabbi s story starts in Eastern Europe, where he is adopted by Salo the iceman. The rabbi then arrives in America, and spends time on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This part of the book was a little slow, as the scene is set for the next guardian of the rabbi. Bernie learns more by reading his Grandpa Ruby s diary, which includes a stint in the nascent state of Israel (for Ruby, not the rabbi). Once Ruby returns to Memphis with his orphan son, the past catches up with the present very quickly, with Ruby s son Julius taking over the appliance business, marrying Yetta, and soon after fathering Bernie and his older sister, Madeline. How does the rabbi stay frozen all this time? That s the part of the plot that includes inventions, train transport, and contraband.
Most of all, this is a book about transformation and facade. While the rabbi dresses the part and looks like an ancient grandfather, sex plays a major part in his outlook. As he professes to bring spirituality to the masses, it is definitely a commercial venture that includes his memoir, "The Ice Sage." Like his ancestor before, Jocheved, who transformed her outward appearance so the extent that it affected her internal working, Bernie also changes. Like Grandpa Ruby, who was at the same time a fearless fighter and a social outcast, Bernie also lives on the edge. He grows from an overweight, apathetic teenager into one whose soul can leave his body and ascend to mystical heights. He researches Jewish history, learns Yiddish, and acquires a girlfriend, who is attracted to him for his ability to leave his body. By the end of the book, he feels comfortable in neither the physical nor the spiritual world, and while the epilogue is quite shocking, I couldn t imagine this book being neatly wrapped up with a happy ending.While the idea of a rabbi frozen in the 1890 s defrosted over a hundred years later is interesting in itself, the novel has much to offer. The main characters are developed well, and the alternation between third and first person gives perspective while allowing them to speak for themselves. There is a strong sense of place, particularly the Lower East Side of the turn of the century and in the graphic description of a pogrom in the "shtetl." The language is what makes this more of an intimate history than a story, with the rabbi s "yinglish" making him sound both wise and wacky at the same time: So step kvetching and start yentzing [having sex]; this is my advice that I give to you free of charge. Bernie, as an awkward teenager has little to say, but his internal moments chronicle his spiritual development. In more somber moments, the narration can be poetic, with trees stooped like peddlers under haversacks of heavy snow. So, to paraphrase Rabbi Eliezer ben Zephyr, This is heaven already on the planet of Earth. It s all in the book which it s twenty-four ninety-five retail. Go and learn!
--Kathe Pinchuck, MLIS, has worked in both synagogue and public libraries. A frequent reviewer for the "Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter," she is past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee."

A recent article in The Jewish Review of Books (Spring 2010) lamented the paucity of Jewish fantasy books. While there are no lions symbolizing deities, we now have The Frozen Rabbi. Eliezer ben Zephyr, a nineteenth century mystic, was in a meditative trance when bad weather struck, submerging him in a newly formed pond, where he froze. Bernie Karp is a twenty-first century teenager who discovers ben Zephyr in the freezer in his parents basement. When he questions his parents, he learns that the rabbi has been handed down through the family as a sort of talisman. An equally fierce storm hits Memphis, knocking out power, and when Bernie checks on the rabbi, he has defrosted. The book starts with Bernie s discovery of the rabbi, and proceeds in alternating chapters, catching the reading up on how the rabbi got to Bernie s basement, then continuing with Bernie s changing life and the Rabbi s endeavors. Rabbi ben Zephyr acquaints himself with modern society by watching television all day. He then decides that America is lacking spirituality and convinces Bernie s father, an appliance salesman, to finance the rabbi s House of Enlightenment, where he will peddle be-a-ti-tude, and also sell a few specialty items on the side books and talismans, red string to ward off the evil eye, everything marked up and elegantly repackaged of course.
Out of the most bizarre circumstances, things seem reasonable, and part of what makes this book so enjoyable is seeing how Mr. Stern gets his characters from one place to another and how the absurd starts to make sense. Without giving away too much of this romp through modern Jewish history, the rabbi, suspended in ice is passed down, almost like a mesorah. Yosl King of Cholera from Boibicz, who married Chava Babtcheh, her that died from giving birth to Salo that they called him Frostbissen, who married the sharp-tongued Basha Puah who begot in Lodz first the twins Yachneh and Yoyneh, who ran away to Palestine, then me, Jocheved, who begot in America with my poor husband Shmerl your father Ruben Karp, who was in the Yichud a holy terror before he got wed to his wife that was shlangbissen, snakebit after already she begot you The rabbi s story starts in Eastern Europe, where he is adopted by Salo the iceman. The rabbi then arrives in America, and spends time on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This part of the book was a little slow, as the scene is set for the next guardian of the rabbi. Bernie learns more by reading his Grandpa Ruby s diary, which includes a stint in the nascent state of Israel (for Ruby, not the rabbi). Once Ruby returns to Memphis with his orphan son, the past catches up with the present very quickly, with Ruby s son Julius taking over the appliance business, marrying Yetta, and soon after fathering Bernie and his older sister, Madeline. How does the rabbi stay frozen all this time? That s the part of the plot that includes inventions, train transport, and contraband.
Most of all, this is a book about transformation and facade. While the rabbi dresses the part and looks like an ancient grandfather, sex plays a major part in his outlook. As he professes to bring spirituality to the masses, it is definitely a commercial venture that includes his memoir, The Ice Sage. Like his ancestor before, Jocheved, who transformed her outward appearance so the extent that it affected her internal working, Bernie also changes. Like Grandpa Ruby, who was at the same time a fearless fighter and a social outcast, Bernie also lives on the edge. He grows from an overweight, apathetic teenager into one whose soul can leave his body and ascend to mystical heights. He researches Jewish history, learns Yiddish, and acquires a girlfriend, who is attracted to him for his ability to leave his body. By the end of the book, he feels comfortable in neither the physical nor the spiritual world, and while the epilogue is quite shocking, I couldn t imagine this book being neatly wrapped up with a happy ending.While the idea of a rabbi frozen in the 1890 s defrosted over a hundred years later is interesting in itself, the novel has much to offer. The main characters are developed well, and the alternation between third and first person gives perspective while allowing them to speak for themselves. There is a strong sense of place, particularly the Lower East Side of the turn of the century and in the graphic description of a pogrom in the shtetl. The language is what makes this more of an intimate history than a story, with the rabbi s yinglish making him sound both wise and wacky at the same time: So step kvetching and start yentzing [having sex]; this is my advice that I give to you free of charge. Bernie, as an awkward teenager has little to say, but his internal moments chronicle his spiritual development. In more somber moments, the narration can be poetic, with trees stooped like peddlers under haversacks of heavy snow. So, to paraphrase Rabbi Eliezer ben Zephyr, This is heaven already on the planet of Earth. It s all in the book which it s twenty-four ninety-five retail. Go and learn!
--Kathe Pinchuck, MLIS, has worked in both synagogue and public libraries. A frequent reviewer for the Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter, she is past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee."

[A] wonderfully entertaining, inventive new novel that evokes Amy Bloom, Michael Chabon and Isaac Bashevis Singer . . . Laugh-out-loud funny, the sort of humor that takes you by surprise. NPR.org
"

A funny, profound and virtuosic work . . . this fast-paced romp through history . . . is a rare enchantment. San Francisco Chronicle
"

In the 25 years since [Stern] published his first book, younger Jewish writers have run with a similar shtick . . . In Jonathan Safran Foer, you see Stern s fanciful English, in Nicole Krauss his magic realism, in Michael Chabon his updated golems and gun-toting shtarkers. But Stern was there first, and with The Frozen Rabbi it feels like he may be last too: this is a novel so rich, full, funny, dense and exhausting, it feels like there may be no more Steve Stern books left to write by him, or anyone else. The Toronto Globe and Mail
"

Among the wonders awaiting the reader of Steve Stern s exuberant new novel . . . is one of sheer logistics: How did he get all of this in here? The book s 370 pages are packed to bursting with epic adventure and hysterical comedy, with grim poignancy and pointed satire, as Stern repeatedly shifts time and tone to craft a wildly entertaining tale. The Washington Post Book World
"

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Steve Stern, winner of the National Jewish Book Award, is the author of several previous novels and novellas. He teaches at Skidmore College in upstate New York.

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Als der Teenager Bernie auf eine gefrorene Leiche in der Tiefkühltruhe seiner Eltern stößt, ahnt er nicht, dass dieser Fund nicht nur sein eigenes Leben radikal verändern wird. Wie sich herausstellt, befindet sich dieser Rabbi im Eisblock schon seit mehreren Generationen im Familienbesitz und gilt seither als Talisman, den es unbedingt zu schützen gilt. Ein Stromausfall jedoch taut das Eis auf, der alte Rabbi beginnt, nicht nur neu zu leben sondern lebt sich auch erstaunlich schnell in die amerikanische Gesellschaft ein. Während der Geistliche eine erfolgreiche Karriere als gefriergetrockneter Instant-Guru einschlägt, studiert Bernie eine alte Familienchronik, die das Schicksal seiner Vorfahren der letzten anderthalb Jahrhunderte aufzeichnet und das wesentlich vom Kümmern um den Scheintoten im Eis geprägt ist.
In einer aberwitzigen Satire schlägt Steve Stern einen großen Bogen vom Exodus aus einem polnischen Schtetl über das Gelobte Land hin zum Land der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten.
So einmalig verschroben, genial, meschugge und von Wahn befallen Stern seine jeweiligen Figuren auch zeichnet, in ihrer chronologischen Abfolge fungieren sie als Stellvertreter ihrer Glaubensschwestern und 'brüder, die sich teilweise auf irrwitzige Weise seit der einsetzenden Vertreibung aus Mitteleuropa auf fremdem Terrain durchschlagen müssen. Oft genug bleibt der tiefgefrorene Rabbi dabei das einzige Hab und Gut der jeweiligen Familienmitglieder, eine gleichsam lebensgefährdende wie überlebensgewährende Erblast.
Wenn sich auch der Eisblock oft genug als Klotz am Bein entpuppt, so wagt es doch niemand, sich seiner zu entledigen.
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Für deutsche Leser stellt das "Jiddisch" noch die kleinste Hürde dar. Gerade zu Beginn des Buches werden eine Menge Begriffe gebraucht, die im 19ten Jahrhundert gebraucht werden, dem durchschnittsleser mit mäßigen Deutschkenntnissen aber Probleme bereiten können.
Das gleicht die Erzählung aber dadurch aus, dass der Spannungsbogen trot der unterschiedlichen Erzählstränge gut gehalten wird und somit der "read on factor" zum Durchhalten animiert.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 von 5 Sternen 85 Rezensionen
14 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Not fully realized, but fully worth the read 19. Juli 2010
Von Jim Palmer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I first ran across Steve Stern when I found "Lazar Malkin Enters Heaven" in the half-price bin at Barnes and Noble, where it didn't deserve to be, years ago. Ever since then, I've been watching his work carefully, and I'm glad I do.

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.

But the story, much like Bernie's family, begins to unravel and implode when the ice finally melts and Rebbe Eliezer is let loose upon modern Memphis. Bernie's travails and fate are, sad to say, not very interesting and ultimately unsatisfying. The narrative begins to feel rushed and sloppy, and the affectionately self-deprecating humor he lavishes upon Bernie's ancestors begins to curdle into something that tastes unpleasantly like vinegary mockery. We weep at the tragedies endured by earlier Karps, but we can't help feeling that the contemporary ones deserve what they get. The books' real richness is the clan's trek through the last two centuries of the Jewish experience. It's in the trip from Boibicz to Memphis where Stern's talent and his enviably encyclopedic knowledge bring forth his most richly realized characters and most enthralling stories. Along the way, he pays loving tribute to earlier Jewish writers like Isaac Bashevis Singer (Stern's sendup of "Yentl" is particularly enjoyable), Philip Roth, and Joseph Heller.

Stern is a terrific stylist, and part of the fun of reading this book is to marvel over his exquisitely-crafted sentences, his gorgeous language, and his dead-on ability to reconstruct and capture the cadence and lilt of that weird linguistic nether zone between English and Yiddish. He's the kind of writer that makes you think, "Gosh, how in the world did he do THAT?" It's enough to make me forgive the disappointing conclusion. But that and the first 90% of it are enough to make me wholeheartedly recommend "The Frozen Rabbi."
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Innovation and Imagination 23. Juli 2011
Von Chandler H. Cobb - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Pubescent teenager, Bernie Karp, is searching his family's deep freeze Kelvinator for frozen liver and finds an 18th century Rabbi preserved perfectly in a block of ice. So begins the story of how this Rabbi impacted Bernie's ancestors and is the jumping point for how this Rabbi will impact Bernie's life.

The chapters in this book alternate between past and present. Overall I enjoyed the chapters that covered the Rabbi's journey from Eastern Europe to present day Memphis, Tennessee over the current day chapters. However as the book progressed these preferences began to shift till I was totally engrossed in the current day dynamic ending.

So what did I love most about this book? Talk about innovative, imaginative and out-of-the box!! This book had me laughing, mourning and sometimes slack jawed over what I read either from disbelief, shock or turn of events.

This book reminded me of my current most-favorite book, "Slave" by V.S. Williams. Themes they both shared included: spirituality, present day absurdity of life, myths, reality, and redemption.

Now I do have a significant complaint about "The Frozen Rabbi". I read books such as this not only for entertainment but to learn more about Judaism. There are so many words and phrases were Yiddish or maybe even something else (I am clueless here) that my Kindle could not define, I felt like I missed quite a bit that the book had to offer. People not of the faith, need Hebrew and Yiddish dictionaries and a Hasidic customs book. Perhaps future printings can have a glossary?
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen It Should Happen to You 4. Juli 2010
Von Buffy Somers - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I am an old fan of Steve Stern, I have to admit, but if I had never heard of him before, this book would have instantly catapulted me into the first rank of his admirers. He himself is a writer of the first rank and should be far more widely recognized than he is. My previous favorite among his works had been his collection of three novellas, A Plague of Dreamers, but The Frozen Rabbi surpasses even that superb performance.
The Frozen Rabbi is a terrific read, to put it in everyday terms. But it's hardly an everyday book. It is at once a tale (of the once-upon-a-time variety, with all the conventions that belong to that genre) and an historical novel, now fantasy, now stark realism, with parables, diary entries, trips to the beyond and the before, all handled with untiring verve. Stern deals in archetypes, but never in cliches. As you approach the end of this un-put-downable book, you still cannot guess how it will end. But when it does, you understand that it cannot have resolved itself in any other way. It's a beautiful, astonishing, masterful ending, utterly satisfying.
I read an online review somewhere that criticized part of the book (the diary portion) for being too short or too stylistically different from the rest. But I disagree. It is an account taken from the diary of a very taciturn character, one who says little and represses much. In fact, the diary, though a paraphrase, accurately expresses the character of its own author. Narrating it in the style or voice of the rest of the novel would have betrayed its purpose.
Except for that section, the novel's omniscient narrator, even as he enters into the minds of his characters, has his own distinctive voice through which he imitates, but not slavishly, the way his characters would speak--if they could express themselves as well as he can. Stern reminds me of Dickens, who also convincingly put language in the mouths of characters who could never have spoken that way in real life or in a completely realistic novel. Both Dickens and Stern give their normally inarticulate characters the ability to express what they experience with beauty, precision and grace, so that we can be moved by their virtues, flaws, struggles, and joys.
Don't miss this book. It's high and deep, hilarious and frightening, complex as a theological disputation, redemptive as a fairy tale. You'll love it.
P.S. You DON'T want to miss the Rabbi himself. In fact, you're going to want to know where to find him when you've finished the book.
1.0 von 5 Sternen Good 3/4 of a book afterwhich writer stops writing & the work nosedives into a cheap boring disappointing end 9. November 2014
Von Long term customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Brilliant beginning- original, sagacious, humorous with touching moments but then the writing changes, the author seems to have lost interest and the book turns to stupid cliched trash. What happened? Where was the editor? The last quarter of the book needed to be worked on. The mismatch is so disappointing and frustrating especially because up to a certain point one has come to trust the writer's talents and insights and is looking forward to a profound and humanist ending. Instead one wants to hurl the book against a wall.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Mazel Tov, you should only read this book! 5. Mai 2011
Von Shoshana - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
If there were ten stars permitted for a review, that's the number I'd choose. What a tour de force!! From page one, you'll be absorbed in the tale(s), and, once you are into this saga, you'll be more in the world of the book than your real world (and you'll begin to see how funny this statement is, LOL).
The language is thrilling, for anyone who reads as much for love of words as for their content. Steve Stern does dialect brilliantly, he's not afraid to use the vernacular, as well as sublime prose.
Each of the characters in this story is fully realized, apparently Stern can see out through anyone's eyes. Scenes become increasingly funny, I finished the book in Starbuck's, laughing out loud from final to ultimate pages like a madwoman. Do you like magical realism? History? Psychological studies? You'll love and cherish "The Frozen Rabbi".
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