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Friday the rabbi slept...
Harry Kemelman
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Friday the rabbi slept late. (The Rabbi Small Mysteries #1)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  2,175 ratings  ·  109 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

208 pages
Published 1990 by Chivers (first published 1964)
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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
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
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
Greg Rothenberger
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
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
Oct 18, 2008 Della rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Nathalie S
It was fun to reread about Rabbi David Small. He is an independent thinker and very aware of his responsibilities as a rabbi. He is always interested in doing what is right for his family and his congregation or other matters he is involved with, even if it goes contrary to popular opinion. I find it fascinating to follow his reasoning and arguments according to the Talmud or other scriptures even if I don't always quite agree. Sometimes I will not understand his position till he explains it. A ...more
Harry Kemelman combines the tenets of Judaism and an engaging mystery to provide the reader with a quick read sprinkled with Aha! moments.
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.
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.
I liked this book. A for style, A+ for main character. B for background and C for crime. : ) To clarify, the community issues were funny but boring and repetitive in parts. I could see what the author was getting at but my attention still wavered. The murder and the solving thereof was not exactly Agatha Christie, but then again I didn't expect it to be, so I wasn't disappointed. The climax and conclusion were fairly rushed. The best part about the book was the main character, Rabbi Small. He co ...more
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.
WT Sharpe
This wonderful book not only offers a look into the world of Conservative Judaism, but the mystery is top-notch as well. Mr. Kemelman played fair, and laid all the clues before the reader, but even so, there are plenty of red herrings laying around to muddy the trail. At a certain point in the book, when all the evidence seemed to coalesce upon a one particular suspect, I found myself thinking, "Well, if this person committed the murder, why did my suspect do what he did?" But in the end, I was ...more
i kinda like this - it was a nice smooth ride and well written - intrigued to read the rest
I just read this book in 2 days and it was a fun, sweet, educational read. I enjoyed the characters and the way in which studying the Talmud and using those practices were explained and used. I learned about the differences in the roles of Catholic Priests, rabbis, and Protestant ministers...very interesting to learn. I have also decided that with this book and others I've read about the Jewish faith, that I would probably love studying the Talmud and being with others who read, evaluate and que ...more
This is a book that I have been wanting to read for some time, but I've been putting it off for various reasons. I finally sat down and read the book, and I was pleasantly surprised. David Small is the rabbi of a Conservative Jewish congregation in Barnard's Crossing, a fictional town in Massachusetts. He is young - just in his late 20s - and has only been the rabbi for a year. Small is a bookworm with a deep love of and appreciation for the Talmud. However, he is not so good at dealing with the ...more
I've been meaning to read the Rabbi series and this was an excellent introduction. The author writes that he never meant to create this character, but that David Small just couldn't be contained.
The book is interesting in the fact that it doesn't just center on the mystery, it also looks at the workings of the Temple where Rabbi Small is employed. It seems that some of the members are not happy with his work, so the Board keeps convening to decide whether or not to keep him on or just to tell hi
I'm pretty sure I read this book a long time ago as an early adolescent - I believe I found it on a shelf at my grandparents' house one summer when I ran out of my own things to read! But I couldn't really remember anything about it, and the e-book price was right, so I snapped it up.

I thought it was a decently crafted mystery. The culprit was who I suspected all along, but I couldn't quite figure out how or why until the very end, so it held my attention. I also liked the set-up for the story:
"Friday the Rabbi Slept Late" is an oldie but a goodie. (1964, I think.) It still holds up. It's a Jewish murder mystery, book 1 of the Rabbi Small series.

The Story: The rabbi in a small Massachusetts town has been hired by the synagogue for a year but now his contract is coming up for renewal and some board members are complaining that the rabbi is not social enough and doesn't reflect the young, up and coming entrepreneurs that the synagogue board thinks they need to attract. The rabbi himsel
Anne R

I purchased this book at the library book sale (you pay $1 for a bag and take as many books that you can fit in the bag. Many of the books were donated by an organization called Friends of the Library and the event is a library fundraiser but often the library already has enough copies of the donated book or the book sits on the shelf for a year or more without a request). I went on the last day of the sale and the fiction shelf was mostly depleted and I'm not interested in books on hobbies such
I remember my grandfather reading this book and others in the "Rabbi Small" series by Harry Kemelman. I decided it was time to catch up on my 1960s Jewish reading (the book was first published in 1964). It turns out to be a pleasant whodunnit whose chief distinction from others of the genre lies in its use of Jewish characters and the frequent explanations of Jewish things —allegedly for the benefit of the non-Jewish characters, sometimes for the Jewish characters too, ultimately for the readers ...more
This is the first book in the Rabbi David Small series. Rabbi Small is in his first year as rabbi at the Temple in Barnard Crossing, located about 30 minutes from Boston, and, quite frankly, his congregation is unsure about his suitability. He is a Talmud scholar which gives him an ability to question and interpret modern situations according to its principles, but he is also young, unkempt, and he has an alarming tendency to say what he thinks in almost every situation. A young woman is murdere ...more
Kyle Pennekamp
Got this from my buddy Jason Alper, who's read the entire series of Rabbi Small mysteries. It's basically like a Father Dowling mystery, or the like, but with the young, unkempt rabbi of a small congregation in a small town in New England. And it's great. Small is a scholar of the Talmud (obviously), and this gives him a real passion for verbal and mental disputation, which is pretty much the form the book takes. Arguments, intelligent arguments, between characters about the crime. That sounds l ...more
Pretty good. Although I guessed early on who was the culprit, I was more entranced by the characters, especially the Rabbi. My uncle was also a Conservative Rabbi, about the same age as Rabbi Small at the time of the story, also outside of Boston. My Uncle shared many of the values and attitudes of Rabbi Small, although I am sure he never got caught up with solving murders. As a document of my parents' generational history, it is beyond fascinating. Kemelman really understands the greater issues ...more
Carl Morton
I thought Kemelman wove a fantastic mystery tale with this the first book in the series. I have heard others say that the series gets better as it goes on and that is true. Nonetheless plenty of good should be said about this book. It has an Agatha Christie like air to it and was enjoyable all the way through.
This is the first of many Rabbi Small mysteries. A friend and I discovered one of the books at a rummage sale and fell in love with the series. It is about a young, small town rabbi who dabbles in helping the police solve murders (with lots of wonderful Jewish wisdom!). Fun series - no sex, no gratuitous violence.
Picked this up for Kindle via the library, didn't realize its age, but aside from some of the language I think it stands up as a nice cozy-type mystery/small-town whodunnit, with a side bonus of a view into religious life in America in the 60s. Lots of discussion of what it means to be Jewish, whether the community should try to be more like the churches, and debunking misconceptions. The mystery part is almost an afterthought to the other issues (and in the forward the author admits that the my ...more
Michelle's Book
Wish there were more

Wish there were more

there are so few of his books. I re read them all the time. the stories and the instruction into Jewish life is great. wonderful. wonderful
The mystery was slow to appear here. For a while, I was wondering if I was reading the book i thought I was reading. It was also fairly transparent. I knew who it was, convincingly, shortly after one of the first "interviews" with one of the main suspects. And although I read mysteries frequently, I don't usually know the murderer so quickly. But, it was still a pleasant read. From other reviewers, I gather that this may not have been the finest of his works, so I might try another to see if Kem ...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 13 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
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry Monday the Rabbi Took Off Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red

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