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January 26, 2015 / 6 Shevat, 5775
 
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Title: The Unorthodox Murder Of Rabbi Wahl

Title: The Unorthodox Murder Of Rabbi Wahl
Author: Joseph Telushkin
Publisher: Toby Press, New Milford, CT

 

 

I don’t know about you – but we really miss the old Harry Kemelman “Friday the Rabbi Slept Late” books – which were some of the first of the genre of rabbinic murder mysteries.

Then along came Rabbi Telushkin – better known for his Jewish Literacy, Jewish Humor, Jewish Wisdom, and a host of other books, including The Book of Jewish Values that examines the meaning of the Jewish religion and the impact of our people on civilization.

Many of us may recall Nathan Ausubel’s rabbi in one of the stories in his famous Treasury of Jewish Folklore who used Talmudic reasoning to find his misplaced eyeglasses, finally discovering them perched atop his own head.

Rabbi Daniel Winter is a very obviously a small-town rabbi, where one of the rabbi’s tasks is interfacing with the larger community. He is the moderator of a call-in radio talk show, “Religion and You,” which enjoys something of a modest popularity in town.

At the beginning of the story, Brenda Goldstein, an attractive divorcee and the police department’s staff psychologist, comes to Rabbi Winter with a mystery – the disappearance of her grandmother’s antique timepiece that her daughter had taken to a religious school Shabbaton without permission.

Rabbi Winter handily solves the case – and returns the watch to the grateful Mrs. Goldstein, who then attends a broadcast of the rabbi’s radio program as a “first date.” Here she meets the three clergy women who are the guests – a nun, a woman minister and a woman who was the rabbi of the town’s Reform congregation.

Soon after the program, one of these clergywoman is murdered. It would be anticlimactic to state that Rabbi Winter, who is a widower, becomes entangled with Brenda Goldstein – after not only solving this murder mystery but that of who murdered her parents, a fact mentioned just before the story begins.

This Toby Press edition is a new release in paperback of the original hardcover issued in 1987. Telushkin has written only two other mystery stories. For the sake of us aficionados of delicious mystery novels, let’s hope he decides to continue to cater to the genre.

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