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"The Accidental Holy Man" review of "In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist" in Wall Street Journal

December 16, 2013

Tags: Wall Street Journal book review, Barton Swaim, Mid-east novel, artifacts on Temple Mount, Jewish and Palestinian relations, cynicism in publishing industry, Jewish novel, conservative novel

(I'd give the link but you need to be a WSJ subscriber).
Book Review: 'In the Courtyard of the Kabblist' by Ruchama King Feuerman
A Lower East Side clothier decamps for Israel and ends up dispensing kabbalistic advice to eager supplicants.

By BARTON SWAIM
Dec. 13, 2013 3:11 p.m. ET
'A month after his mother died, Isaac Markowitz, forty, plagued with eczema and living on the Lower East Side, sold his haberdashery at a decent profit and took an El Al flight to Israel." So begins Israeli writer Ruchama King Feuerman's second novel, "In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist." In the Holy Land, Isaac finds work as an assistant to a kabbalist rabbi, who (to oversimplify) uses esoteric and unconventional Talmudic readings to deal with a variety of human problems.

Ms. Feuerman vividly catalogs the supplicants who crowd the holy man's courtyard in Jerusalem: "homemakers, unemployed Israelis, yeshiva students, a concert pianist who hiccupped excessively and couldn't play anymore." (more…)