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Friday the Rabbi Slept...
Harry Kemelman
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Friday the Rabbi Slept Late (The Rabbi Small Mysteries #1)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  3,510 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews

Rabbi David Small, the new leader of Barnard's Crossing's Jewish community, can't even enjoy his Sabbath without things getting stirred up in a most unorthodox manner: It seems a young nanny has been found strangled, less than a hundred yards from the Temple's parking lot -- and all the evidence points to the Rabbi.

Add to that the not-so-quiet rumblings of his disgruntl

Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 1967 (first published 1964)
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Out of an entirely random find at the library, I've found a great little mystery series.
The charm of this book was not so much in the mystery itself, which was middling, but in the Jewish culture portrayed and explained and in the character of Rabbi Small, who is a naive but clever intellectual with out of the box solutions to Temple matters and murder mysteries.
Apr 22, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars.

I had been vaguely aware of this series before but hadn't paid it much attention until I was introduced to the Guardian newspaper's list of 1000 Novels Everyone Should Read and found this first book of the series in the Crime section.

I am so glad that I finally read this! I found the rabbi David Small very likeable, although he played a smaller part in the story than I expected. The relationship between the Catholic chief of police and the Jewish rabbi promises to be an ongoing pleasure
Patrick J. McAdam
After seeing on Bookbub that Amazon was offering this on Kindle for $1.99, I decided to purchase. What a great find! The storytelling was excellent and I learned some things about the Jewish religion. I'll definitely download the next in the series!
Mar 10, 2009 Nolan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, even those who don't think much of mysteries may well like this book. Indeed, this entire series is a pleasant read. Rabbi David Small finds himself in a nasty situation as this book opens. He's a bit of a scholarly type, and he doesn't necessarily do what other rabbis do in terms of easily mixing with other congregations in the community. As a result, the members of his temple question whether he should be reinstated when his contract is out at the end of the high holy days in September. ...more
Feb 24, 2017 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brisk and interesting read, the mystery was less compelling then the setting. The one question I had was when exactly this was supposed to be set, I guess the 1950s? It was one of those books where everyone was vaguely likable, had their quirks, and were basically genial even though murder was involved. Kind of a like a Jewish The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Greg Rothenberger
Nov 23, 2008 Greg Rothenberger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I've always enjoyed this series, and have decided to read them all again. Rabbi Small has always been one of my favorite characters. It may have something to do with this being the first "adult" mystery I ever read. You know, something other than the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew.

In terms of sub-genre, I'm tempted to classify this one as just about a "cozy." With the obvious differences that the main characters are male, it's set in New England, and religion figures heavily in the book. The plot is p
Oct 28, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rabbi David Small leads a temple in Massachusetts outside of the big city. He and his wife are just finishing their first year with the congregation and the board is considering whether or not to retain the rabbi. He did manage to make a detractor in one of his judicial decisions, so when a young woman's body is found on the temple grounds with some evidence that could implicate the rabbi, things get sticky. The local police force, including Chief Lanigan, work on finding the young woman's murde ...more
Oct 13, 2008 Della rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for light reading
Recommended to Della by: "friends of the los altos library ongoing book sale"
very enjoyable light reading-- perfect for a few long train rides. its a simple murder mystery without any gore, and if you are the careful reader, you will figure out the suspect quite quickly. if that poses no challenge, you do also get to learn a bit about the role of rabbis in general, and how they fit within their congregation.

funny thing is, the rabbi character is quite a scholar, which is sort of why he is mixed up in this murder business to begin with. you could almost substitute the ra
Dec 29, 2007 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was a small child, my mother read this series about a Rabbi who solves mysteries using his Talmudic exegetical skills. I guess that is why I picked this book up at the library when it caught my eye. It's hardly deep reading, but it was really fun and engaging. Also, I have no idea where this particular book is in the series, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything. Fun read.
May 08, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 in the Rabbi Small series. "1965 Edgar Award for Best First Novel; Finalist 1965 Gold Dagger Award " Auspicious start to a wonderful series.

Rabbi Small mystery - A young woman's body is left on the grounds of the temple and the renewal of the rabbi's contract is debated.

Oct 13, 2008 Dorine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was a fun, clean, and interesting whodunit that kept you guessing right to the end. Would like to read more in the series. It was especially interesting to learn about Jewish lifestyle and beliefs.
Dec 19, 2016 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, jewish
I read this book a long time ago and remember liking the series. Mystery and humor. I am only adding it now because Steve had it on his list of just read books.
Jeannine Stewart
Rabbi David Small is in his first year as rabbi in a temple in Massachusetts during the 1950's or 60's. His congregation is not sure about renewing his contract as he is rather scholarly and rumpled and does not give the polished appearance that some of them expect. Then a young woman is found murdered outside of the temple parking lot and the rabbi becomes a suspect for a time. This evolves into a relationship between the Gentile Police Chief and Rabbi Small that I hope carries over to other bo ...more
May 18, 2017 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This series was recommended to me years ago ... I'm glad I finally got around to it ... very pleasant in an Agatha Christie sort of way ... and, no, I did not guess who the murderer was ... for some reason, has me reading this for a second time ... nope, first time!! But will definitely read more of this series ... good for this summer
Mar 14, 2017 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by:
This is definitely more of a mystery in the Poirot/Miss Marple genre than a thriller but the character development is excellent and I am looking forward to more stories about Rabbi Small. What makes this book unique is the way the author weaves Jewish religious practice and culture into the story in an always interesting way.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Two and a half stars for what is almost a "period novel" when read from today's perspective. My, times have changed. In 1963, in well to do East Coast homes, marriage normally precluded a woman continuing to work, even if she had a university degree. Well-to-do women (without jobs or careers) apparently had maids to look after the kids. Adultery and unwed pregnancy weren't just a big deal, they were huge. Rock and roll was "that crazy music kids like today." Husbands bought the family car, and u ...more
Feb 26, 2017 Kerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not entirely sure that nostalgia didn't influence my rating, having read this series during my gap year, but I really enjoy the way this author uses a classic mystery novel to inform the reader of the Jewish theology.
Jul 22, 2008 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I remember my grandmother having the Harry Kemelman books around her house when I was little, and I always thought of them as mysteries for old Jewish ladies. "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late" fits this description in some ways -- the passages dealing with synagogue board meetings certainly do -- but the book was much livelier, and at times racier, than I expected.

The early chapters focus so much on the doings of the Jewish community in a small Massachusetts town, as well as the gentiles they deal w
Feb 27, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though I was very young at the time, I remember that NBC briefly had a television series based on the books by Harry Kemelman called "Lanigan's Rabbi" that starred Art Carney and Bruce Solomon, which may have been one of the reasons I bought a copy of "Friday The Rabbi Slept Late." It's been sitting on my shelf unread since that time for years, (so many of my books have sat on my bookcase in that same condition) but I'm glad to have finally read it.

Rabbi David Small, who has been the leader of
Garrett Zecker
This was a great deal more contrived, fast, and formulaic than his later books - but it makes sense. It was the first one. In later books, he doesn't drop off so quickly, the perp is confronted and faced by his accusers in a very Agatha Christie manner, and the book is wrapped up nicely. I am not sure how I would have thought about it had I read it first (I have already read two more of the series prior to this one), but I am frankly surprised that he even got a book deal to begin with in terms ...more
It's always nice to find a charming something to read between more demanding reads! This old series is perfect; there's something quite entertaining reading about the "old days," before the Internet and cell phones and even the descriptions of so many characters (and not just the villains) enjoying their cigarettes, hearkening back to to time when what we didn't know meant we would live forever.
Jamie Collins
Jun 25, 2008 Jamie Collins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A quiet little murder mystery, written in the 60's and centered around a young rabbi in a small town in New England. Rather obviously written with an eye toward educating the average Gentile mystery reader about the Jewish religion. A light, pleasant read.
May 05, 2014 Hapzydeco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harry Kemelman combines the tenets of Judaism and an engaging mystery to provide the reader with a quick read sprinkled with Aha! moments.
Feb 14, 2016 Elena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice time in the company of a smart young rabbi. A detective story and some insights into the life , opinions and habits of a small Jewish community. A light, pleasant read.
i kinda like this - it was a nice smooth ride and well written - intrigued to read the rest
Jan 22, 2016 Dean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindled, f-mystery
In the Rabbi Small series criminal intrigues come in passing. Life of the Jewish community and, in particular, philosophical and talmudic disputes are a real treat

W Barnard's Crossing w stanie Massachusetts mieszka ponad trzysta rodzin żydowskich. Młody rabin gminy, David Small, nie wszystkim członkom kongregacji się podoba. Owszem, jest bogobojny i posiada dużą wiedzę, czyli spełnia dwa konieczne warunki, aby sprawować swój urząd, ale nie bardzo pasuje do współczesnych czasów (poczatek lat 60-y
Kilian Metcalf
Oct 23, 2016 Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Rabbi Small. I'm glad he's not my rabbi, since he is prickly and hard to know. His idea of what a rabbi is supposed to be like is at odds with the idea of most of the members of his congregation. This leads to constant areas of conflict with them. Fortunately for him, he had the ability to bring his training to focus on the various murders that happen all around him.

This is the first of 12 novels about R. David Small and takes place in his first year at his congregation. It's a mixed cong
Dec 21, 2016 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are you jonesing for Mad Men? Well, this quirky little mystery book will satisfy your need to be thrown back into early 1960’s American culture. This is one book in a series of Rabbi mysteries so fret not – you can find more of them.

Rabbi David Small is an unconventional, shabby scholar who has been hired as the religious leader of a small but growing Jewish enclave. The congregation leaders are mostly well to do businessman and up and comers whose use for the synagogue is more networking with e
Chris Birdy
May 08, 2017 Chris Birdy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in the Rabbi Small series. David Small's job is on the line - half of the temple's board thinks he's not suitable for the job and doesn't project the proper image in the community. David Small goes through life looking like an unmade bed as he thinks and theorizes his way through each day. When a young woman is found dead in the parking lot outside the temple, the police look at David since he was alone in his office at the temple when she was murdered and no one else was ...more
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Harry Kemelman was an American mystery writer and a professor of English. He was the creator of one of the most famous religious sleuths, Rabbi David Small.

His writing career began with short stories for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine featuring New England college professor Nicky Welt, the first of which, "The Nine Mile Walk", is considered a classic.

The Rabbi Small series began in 1964 with the
More about Harry Kemelman...

Other Books in the Series

The Rabbi Small Mysteries (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry
  • Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home
  • Monday the Rabbi Took Off
  • Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red
  • Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet
  • Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out
  • Conversations with Rabbi Small
  • Someday the Rabbi Will Leave
  • One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross
  • The Day the Rabbi Resigned

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“You Jews have no political sense whatsoever, and we Irish have a genius for it. When you argue or campaign for office, you fight on the issues. And when you lose, you console yourselves with the thought you fought on the issues and argued reasonably and logically. It must have been a Jew who said he’d rather be right than President. An Irishman knows better; he knows that you can do nothing unless you’re elected. So the first principle of politics is to get elected. And the second great principle is that a candidate is not elected because he’s the logical choice, but because of the way he has his hair cut, or the hat he wears, or his accent. That’s the way we pick even the President of the United States, and for that matter, that’s the way a man picks his wife. Now wherever you have a political situation, political principles apply. So don’t you worry as to why or how you were chosen. You just be happy that you were chosen.” 0 likes
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