The Frozen Rabbi

Steve Stern


One day rummaging around in the family freezer, Bernie Karp unearths a man frozen into a block of ice. Upon asking his father about him, he is told that he is a family tradition and there is a book about him.  As he reads the book we are transported to  1889 and the holy man, Rabbi  Eliezer ben Zephyr, the Boibiczer prodigy. When he wished to get closer to God, he would lie near a pond outside his village. Eventually he meditates on letters of the Tetragrammoton until he went into a trance.  One day, while he was lost in meditation, a great storm raises the waters of the pond. They creep up his body until he is completely submerged.

One day a man cutting ice, discovers the rebbe. His disciples are in a quandary about what to do. Ultimately they decided to postpone the decision until the rebbe frees himself from the ice and decides for himself what to do.

From that point the book become a double story: one part deals with the block of ice, traveling from Boibiczer to America, ending up in the Karp’s freezer; the other part tell the story with what happens to Bernie when a power failure defrosts the old man.

I was expecting a book rather like Brother Petroc’s Return, the story of a monk who is brought forward in time to the present time. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Showing no sign of discomfort, the rabbi settles in to restore people to their soul. He decides to open a house of spiritual exercises, Rabbi ben Zephyr’s House of Enlightenment at the local shopping mall.

Both the history of how his ice block is maintained over the years and his adventures in the present and his impact on the life of Bernie Karp are interesting for the reader, but the actions of the Rabbi in the modern day, while meant to an amusing satire on modern mores is undercut by the sexual immorality of the Rabbi.

I cannot recommend this book.







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