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The Rabbi's Cat (Le Chat du Rabbin #1-3)

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  4,448 Ratings  ·  354 Reviews
The preeminent work by one of France’s most celebrated young comic artists, The Rabbi’s Cat tells the wholly unique story of a rabbi, his daughter, and their talking cat — a philosopher brimming with scathing humor and surprising tenderness.

In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the a
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published August 16th 2005 by Pantheon (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Dec 05, 2015 Melki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The good news is - the cat can speak!
The bad news is - he only tells lies!

Well, the second part is wrong, but he is one argumentative puss!
He argues theology with the rabbi, and makes fun of the man's students, going so far as to follow one young man to see if he frequents a whorehouse.

Cat and rabbi make a great comic duo. Observe this exchange where cat is reading aloud to the rabbi:

Cat - "Because if you want I can look for a fable with only kosher animals."
Rabbi - "Ah! Shut up and read."
Cat -
Jan Rice

"Sfar-Rabbis Daughter". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -

The Rabbi's Cat, by French artist and writer Joann Sfar is a graphic novel set in Algeria in the 1930s.

Despite how his name sounds in English, the author isn't a woman. It's Joann as in Johann: John! Here he is with the model for his fictional cat:

Approaching this review, all I could think of at first was cat puns: The Cat-cher in the Rye. The cat without which there is nothing. A feline of v
‘The children are all very loving. They succeed in everything they do, they bring me great satisfaction.’

‘Baruch HaShem!’

‘Bless you.’

Ah, I love me a classic Jewish gag like that. Le Chat du Rabbin is a clever and very charming BD about Algiers's Jewish community in the 1930s, narrated by the titular feline, who early on in the book eats a parrot and gains the ability to talk. He immediately demands a bar-mitzvah – but as you'd perhaps expect from a cat, he turns out to be a skeptic at heart:

So w
Aug 19, 2014 Scot rated it really liked it
This is an American compliation and translation of three related French graphic novel tales about the life of a Sephardic Algerian rabbi's cat in colonial Algeria round about the 1930s. The first of the three stories was my favorite, as the cat gains the power of speech after devouring a pet parrot and proceeds to argue theology and philosophy, requesting a Bar Mitzvah while also questioning the existence of God. The second story is an adaption of a classic French fable by Fontaine and includes ...more
Shira Glassman
Mar 14, 2016 Shira Glassman rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Shira by: Tof Eklund
Using the premise of "What if my cat could observe humanity with an intelligent, humanlike brain? What, then, would he think of Judaism, belief, Jewish law and practice, the interaction of Jews and Arabs, of men and women, and people in general?", the author shows us several events from the life of a family of Sephardic Jews in historical French Northern Africa. It's half story, half philosophy -- which is a very Jewish way to tell a story -- and sometimes the point is to show both sides of an a ...more
Apr 22, 2012 Caroline rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
A widowed rabbi, his cat and his daughter live in Algeria spin a story and lesson in Judaism very cleverly crafted in this graphic novel. Through the cat, who having eaten the family parrot, is imparted a miraculous ability to speak, questions and challenges to the Jewish faith are presented to the rabbi and the rabbi's rabbi. First the cat lies about eating the parrot, and then he insists on learning the Kabbalah and wants a Bar Mitzvah.

The rabbi's daughter gets married to a French rabbi and t
Mar 30, 2008 Nate rated it really liked it
A peculiar, instantly engrossing graphic novel by Joann Sfar, an author who is new to me and who I was surprised to find when I got to the "about the author" page, is a man, despite having what seems to be a woman's name. I was very impressed by the author's knowledge of Jewish ritual and custom, but even more impressed by the unobtrusive way that he works it into the story. The story is both sad and funny in the best way.

One thing I find interesting about the structure of the story is the way o
Shruthi Mudireddy
Nov 04, 2015 Shruthi Mudireddy rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
A delicious book with a talking cat that argues philosophically with his master, an adorable old rabbi and his beautiful daughter. This book couldn't have gone wrong. Whilst reading it, I felt like I was walking through medieval Algeria with all its foibles and mannerisms. The book is not the least bit preachy, but you end up thinking deeply about religion and culture. Now that is some good writing and not to mention the evocative artwork. It feels a bit like the Aladdin set-up when you look at ...more
Jul 19, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it
Set in 1920's Algeria and France, The Rabbi's Cat is an homage to author Joann Sfar family's history. The tale of how a young married couple blends Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish heritages makes for a very engaging graphic novel. Bonus points for the discussion of Maimonides The Guide for the Perplexed.
Prakriti Singh
Oct 17, 2015 Prakriti Singh rated it really liked it
The beautiful and breezy style of the author has completely floored me, He brings a lot of cultural aspects of Algerian jews to light which makes it a page turner, the character of the cat is hilarious and profound at the same time. His message is put across so light heartedly but sticks with you.
May 18, 2010 Andrea rated it really liked it
Recommended to Andrea by: John
The Rabbi's cat gains the power to talk (by ingestion of parrot) and is no longer allowed to spend time with the Rabbi's daughter, whom he loves, because he is a bad influence. He asks to be bar mitzvahed so that he can be with her, and a delightful discussion ensues.

I loved the first story in this book. In fact, I might have to go back and steal it from John's so I can read it again whenever I want. The two stories that followed were great as well, but the first story made me fall in love with
Soobie's heartbroken
Direi che son 2,5 stelline.

Questa è un'antologia che raccoglie i primi tre volumi della serie. La prima parte, quella in cui il gatto effettivamente parla, è stata la più pesante da leggere. Tanta filosofia e tanto ebraismo. E lo stile di narrazione contribuisce alla noia: infatti, tutto è raccontata dal gatto che riporta le parole degli altri protagonisti.

Nella prima parte, il gatto - dopo aver mangiato un pappagallino - acquista la capacità di parlare. E comincia a disquisire di religione con
Dec 02, 2011 Laini added it
This is the third or fourth Sfar book I've read and I loved every panel and every word of it -- LOVED it. He really uses his quirky sense of humor to very human effect here, whereas in Vampire in Love or The Professor's Daughter things were a bit more zany -- fun, but harder to love. The story of an Algerian rabbi, his lovely daughter, and their witty, loving, maniacal, scheming cat (as narrated by the cat) is so winning, I can't even explain it. You just have to read it.
Nikki Morse
Apr 17, 2015 Nikki Morse rated it it was ok
Interesting story, gorgeous drawings - both totally undermined by misogyny and empty, objectified female characters.
Melanie Page
May 13, 2016 Melanie Page rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
Last month, I reviewed Sfar’s collection of four stories in one graphic novel called Vampire Loves . I was amused by the simplicity of the storytelling, a delightful feature of European books I don’t often see in American graphic novels. The Rabbi’s Cat was much, much better, and I’m sad to say that my copy is from the library. The story is set in Algeria in the 1930s and follows a cat that lives with his owners, a rabbi (his Master) and the rabbi’s daughter (his Mistress).

While I loved the sto
Nov 23, 2012 maha rated it really liked it
(يحتوي التقرير عن حرق للقصة)

عن سيرة كليلة ودمنة، وفي قالب كوميدي لطيف، تتحدث القصة عن قطة الرابي، وهو أحد اليهود الذين يعيشون في الجزائر في مطلع القرن الماضي
على عكس الرابي الذي يؤمن باله اليهودية، القطة لا تؤمن الا بابنة الرابي التي تولت عنايتها

منذ ابتلعت القطة الببغاء، حتى اكتسبت قدرة على النطق لتبدأ محاوراتها الشيطانية لتعبث بعقل الرابي الذي كانت حياته آمنة مستقرة
القطة ذاتها لم ترتح منذ اكتسبت القدرة على النطق

القطة لديها نظرة لادينية جذورها في الحياة، لديها اراء عن كون طلابه الذين يبدون بمنظر
Ivonne Rovira
Mar 16, 2013 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ivonne by: Alex Wolfe
In this delightful and uproariously funny parable set in Algeria in the 1930s, the rabbi’s cat, a conniving, profane cat who appears to be a blue Abyssinian, devours a garrulous parrot, thereby acquiring the bird’s power of speech. The clever but prevaricating cat immediately launches into a campaign to get himself a Bar Mitzvah — despite the opposition of both the rabbi and the rabbi’s rabbi. Eventually, the rabbi relents due to the intervention of the rabbi’s beautiful daughter, Zlabya — to wh ...more
Apr 22, 2010 Justin rated it liked it
An extremely quirky graphic novel by the French comic book artist Joann Sfar. I'd never heard of this guy but supposedly he's pretty hot shit over in Europe (Wikipedia: "Sfar is considered one of the most important artists of the new wave of Franco-Belgian comics.")

It's hard to be completely sure but I think The Rabbi's Cat takes place at the turn of the century, in Israel. As the title suggests, it follows the adventures of a rabbi and his cat, a rather scrappy fellow who has no qualms about ki
Sep 12, 2009 Brenna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
In one sense, The Rabbi's Cat seems to represent a basic interpretation of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. And in others, it light-heartedly recreates the Jewish Algeria of the 1930s. The characters of The Rabbi, The Rabbi's Daughter, and The Rabbi's Cat display multi-faceted prisms of their own personalities - and the entire story is narrated through the eyes of a seven-year-old cat.

In its original French format, The Rabbi's Cat is a series of three (out of five) comic books detailing the
Aug 13, 2016 Collin rated it liked it
I should really say 3.5 stars, because my enjoyment waned as the story started ending without much of a change in the pace or raising of the stakes, and because there was no real wrapping-up or sense of conclusion to the conflicts presented in the story. Idk. It was just a little bit of a fizzle at the end.

But! I really loved about the first half. The art is bizarre and weird - kind of like Pink Panther cartoons, almost? - and I loved the cat's devilish little expressions. A lot of artists seem
Eva Měřínská
Jun 07, 2015 Eva Měřínská rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mekta, komiks
"Řeknu mu, že Bůh je jen smyšlená berlička. Že Bohu nikdo nedává pocit bezpečí, poněvadž je už starý a rodiče mu umřeli." (s. 20)
"Můj pán si myslí, že jsem potvora, protože lžu. když se to nemá, a pravdu říkám, jenom když bolí." (s. 22)
V češtině pouze dvě první alba (Bar micva a Malka, král lvů), zvlášť pvní díl je myšlenkově skvostný.
Rozpravy o judaismu, resp. víře, dogmatických pravdách a domněnkách v podání "němé" tváře odkrývají nečekané úhly pohledu.
Výtvarné ztvránění francouzského Alžírsk
Mar 22, 2016 Courtney rated it liked it
This was quite different from what I usually read. It might be worth another read, if only for little gems like this: "Still, I liked her smell. She had arms like a mom, which dangled a bit."
John Jr.
Nov 08, 2012 John Jr. rated it liked it
Shelves: comix, graphic-novel
If you have an interest in graphic novels, I'd suggest you skip reading any reviews and simply locate this book and plunge in. Part of the fun of reading this comes from figuring out time and place and from finding out things about the characters. Every Goodreads review I glanced at gave away much of that.

What I'll say is this: There's a good deal of cultural atmosphere in the story, much of it related to Judaism, and there's a lot of fun in the plot developments as well as in the graphical styl
Maggie Anton
Jan 29, 2016 Maggie Anton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish, funny
I saw the animated movie first and loved it, so when I found the book at my local library I couldn't wait to read it. I wasn't disappointed. Funny, poignant, clever and charming, plus a bit of Jewish education from a talking cat. I found myself deliberately slowing down to savor the graphics and make it take longer to finish. I may be forced to actually buy the sequel The Rabbi's Cat 2 since my library doesn't have it.
Aug 08, 2016 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I am not sure what I expected out of this graphic novel, but what I got was a major disappointment. I was hoping for something more, it is a religious novel, but I felt it lacking in a lot of ways. I may receive hate for this review, but I promise to always be honest.

A little-widowed rabbi, his daughter, and their adorable cat live in Algeria. This book is supposed to be a lesson on Judaism and a spin on a religious tale. This novel is woven together carefully and is beautifully written. The a
Fredrik Strömberg
The first of two omnibus collections of Joann Sfar's five album masterpiece, combining his thoughts on Jewish beliefs and culture in general and the Sephardic tradition in Algeria in particular. Beautiful, highly personal art and a modern take on the traditional humorous adventure comics of the French-Belgian tradition.

This is the story of a rabbi in French Algeria in the 1920s, whose cat eats a parakeet and gains the power of speech. The cat starts to question Jewish lore and the
Jan 31, 2015 Bogdan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels

Grafica, povestea, personajele. Totul impresioneaza!

Am fost placut surprins.

Dec 31, 2015 Lynn rated it really liked it
What's not to love about a cat who, after eating a parrot and thus winning the power of speech, argues with his rabbi master about theology? And is one of the most winsomely drawn cats since Patrick McDonnell's Mooch? There's a lovely warmth in this graphic novel that ultimately seems focused on connection and presence (with each other and with God and with animals and with place and so on). Once I finished it I wanted to read it again. So I did.
Jun 05, 2012 Monica rated it liked it
“The Rabbi’s Cat” is the first graphic novel I’ve read and it won’t be my last. This was a fun and entertaining break to take while reading my usual mystery/crime books. You can’t help but fall in love with the little kosher kitty with the adorable big ears. Add a rabbi and his beautiful daughter and you’ll find yourself quickly reading and turning pages while gazing at the pictures.
Nov 30, 2015 Shh rated it liked it
This little story started so strongly that I was sure we would be required to ask ourselves many philosophical questions, all posed to us, innocently enough, by a cheeky feline with an attitude. But, no. Then I thought there would be some insightful and expertly drawn parallels between the Cat's loss of innocence by way of his newly acquired speech and our fall from grace at the hands of our own wayward tongues. But, no. Devil's Advocate, then? Not really, not enough to matter. Actually, the plo ...more
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Joann Sfar (born August 28, 1971 in Nice) is a French comics artist, comic book creator, and film director.

Sfar is considered one of the most important artists of the new wave of Franco-Belgian comics. Many of his comics were published by L'Association which was founded in 1990 by Jean-Christophe Menu and six other artists. He also worked together with many of the new movement's main artists, e.g.
More about Joann Sfar...

Other Books in the Series

Le Chat du Rabbin (6 books)
  • La Bar Mitsva
  • Le Malka des Lions (Le chat du Rabbin, #2)
  • Le Chat du Rabbin, Tome 3: L'Exode
  • Le Chat du Rabbin, Tome 4: Le Paradis terrestre
  • Jérusalem d'Afrique (Le Chat du Rabbin #5)
  • Tu n'auras pas d'autre dieu que moi (Le Chat du Rabbin, #6)

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“You've been the rabbi here for thirty years and these guys who've never set foot here want to decide who should be rabbi or not. And to lead prayer in Hebrew for Jews who speak Arabic, they want you to write in French. So I say they're nuts.” 6 likes
“Los pequeños detalles muestran la extensión de lo que no sabes” 1 likes
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