May 262011
 

A Chasidic Rabbi from the olden country goes out to meditate on the meaning of God, falls into a trance, and then a lake that freezes over him, where he lies, smiling, encased in ice before being discovered and chipped out by Yossl King of Cholera.  His frozen body is preserved for more than a century before thawing out during a 1999 power failure in the Memphis freezer of a discount furniture salesman.  The Rabbi wakes, learns English and channels a southern revivalist, kabbalistic preacher. while we, the readers,  While the Rabbi becomes a huge business success, we, the readers, simultaneously follow his frozen journey through the generations of Jews that protected for this Yiddisher ice cube from shtetl to Tennessee. Often, laugh out loud funny — the more Yiddish or Borscht belt humor you know, the funnier — and occasionally too obtuse.  There are deeper messages in this text about spirituality, God, Kabalah, and family, but I’m afraid they were just far enough below the surface I couldn’t quite bring them to focus.

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