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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 ·  3,295 Ratings  ·  204 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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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
Mar 11, 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
Greg Rothenberger
Mar 06, 2015 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
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.

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
Jul 25, 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
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.
Mar 05, 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
Oct 18, 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.
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.
Jamie Collins
Jun 26, 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 17, 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
Jun 30, 2016 Dean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindled, f-mystery
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
Hmmmmm. For such a short book, I have a lot of thoughts about this. First, it was written in 1964, and boy, you can tell. Lots of stuff about that crazy music kids these days listen to and how women can't drive themselves around. As a mystery, it was pretty lackluster. The dead body didn't show up until well into the book, and two pages later I knew exactly who had done it and why. The rest of the book was taken up with temple politicking -- much of which was pretty enjoyable -- and vaguely reli ...more
Oct 24, 2016 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read the Rabbi Small books 50 years ago. This makes it difficult to assign a rating because the more I read, the more I remembered both about the book and about my feelings on first reading it. This book had a good plot--not overly involved and (thankfully) not violent--and worked the explanation of Rabbi Small's detective skills into the story itself. With the exception of Rabbi Small and Chief Lanigan, characters were peripheral and not developed beyond their roles of bolstering the Ra ...more
Jan 11, 2017 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting murder mystery. Rabbi Small is a sleuth who is persistent and humble. The author also provides insight into Jewish customs and beliefs which adds a richness to a variety of characters in the book. The relationship between the rabbi and his wife is charming and shows respect for women. I look forward to reading more Rabbi Small mysteries.
Kari Mccrory
Nov 28, 2016 Kari Mccrory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. Quick and easy. The mystery wasn't bad. Kemelman captured the time and place very well. The relationship between the rabbi and the Catholic policeman was fun. They had mutual respect for one another and worked together well.
D R Childs
But then he woke up

I learned a lot about religion...and that was truly interesting and enlightening. However, I also "solved" the case about halfway through the book. However, it was entertaining and I would read another by Mr. Perelman.
Nov 13, 2016 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After hearing about this series from a friend 25 years ago, I finally got around to reading the first one! I'm glad I did. It was an entertaining read. I'm not sure how accurate the information is concerning the Jewish traditions, but I liked the story.
Jan 08, 2017 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This started slow but ended up being very fun! Fast little read. I'll be looking for more of these!
Cathy Hendren
Nov 14, 2016 Cathy Hendren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this series years ago. It is amazing how social norms and expectations have changed.
Jan 04, 2017 Teryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Really enjoyed this series of books.
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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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