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Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry

(The Rabbi Small Mysteries #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,868 ratings  ·  174 reviews
A drunken man and a sick, aging, wealthy Jew present a crisis that interrupts Yom Kippur for Rabbi David Small, who suddenly finds himself investigating a possible murder, thanks to his pregnant wife, Miriam.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by iBooks (first published 1966)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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This is the second book in the Rabbi Small series and was originally published in 1966. The first book in the series, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and was adapted into a made for TV movie. The protagonist is the series is Rabbi David Small, a young and likable character. The setting is the Massachusetts town of Barnard’s Crossing.

When the story opens it is the day before Yom Kippur and Rabbi Small is dealing with several crises. There are problems with th
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Read as part of the omnibus "Four Rabbi Small Mysteries" (Kindle edition). I continue to find Rabbi David Small a very interesting character and am learning some aspects of Jewish religion and tradition. The mystery is well crafted and conforms to my preference that all the clues and information are available to the reader -- the fact that I couldn't figure it out is a sign of a good mystery imo!
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star
A mathematician is found dead in his car on Yom Kippur and what initially looks like a suicide turns out to be murder. Certain members of his congregation may be implicated and Rabbi David Small is determined to find out who the murderer is. The insight into Jewish philosophy and religious practices was very interesting, but there just wasn’t much “mystery” to it and I’m not sure the characters (including Rabbi Small and his wife) are engaging enough to continue with the series.

2.5 stars, round
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy, religion-jewish
I loved this book. It was a fast comfortable read. Great characters that were well rounded and showed good moral character. Meaning even the bad guys were just human nature flaws not the cynical, self centered evil you get in current fiction novels. The plot is detailed and intricate. None of that flash and bang with constant escalation you get in current fiction. Meaning the first half reads like a sequential day to day plot, but then the mystery pops up and you have a "Duh!" moment and realize ...more
Mary Karlee
This only took a few days to read and it was interesting to learn about Jewish philosophy and how they view the world. I felt a better title would be "Rabbi Knows Best" since the Rabbi turns out to be a super sleuth. This book was recommended by my brother David, and so this comment is directed to him: where the heck did you find this? I liked the book, but I was just kinda perplexed how you came to read a 1960's Jewish Murder-Mystery. Kinda obscure...
Kilian Metcalf
These books are like popcorn. You can read them in about two hours, and they are so satisfying. I love them. I reread them every few years to remind myself how Rabbi Small gets into trouble with his congregation and how he get himself out again.

In this case the dispute is over whether a Jewish non-member of his congregation should be buried in the small Jewish cemetery. You see, there's a question of the man's death: was he a suicide or an accident? If a suicide, he should be buried outside the
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, cozy-mystery
I'm liking this cozy mystery series so far. A drunk was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage and the police have ruled it an accident. The insurance investigator, however, would rather prove it was suicide so they wouldn't have to pay. After discussing it with Rabbi David Small, all three conclude that they must determine whether or not it was murder.

Despite the slow pace of this series, I find myself enjoying it. I've learned a bit about the Jewish faith from it, and it's been
COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime
BOOK 45 (of 250)
I liked this 2nd Rabbi Small outing better than the first: the Rabbi and his neighborhood expands as Kemelman delivers an even better plot. If "Friday" had not won an Edgar, this surely would have!
HOOK=3 stars: The opening reads: "...On the tenth day of this seventh months is the day of atonement, a holy convocation shall it be unto you, and ye shall fast...and no matter of work shall ye do on this shall be a statute foreve
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Truly enjoying this little series of books, more for the characters and the glimpses of Jewish life than for the plot.
Alex Shrugged
Nov 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, mystery
"Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry" is book 2 of the Rabbi Small Mysteries. While the novel is somewhat dated, it's not too bad.

In this story, Rabbi Small is asked to perform a funeral over a Jewish man who died under suspicious circumstances.. a possible suicide. This might cause problems burying him in the Jewish cemetery since traditionally, suicides were buried at the edge of the synagogue separated from the others. After an investigation, Rabbi Small decides that it was NOT a suicide, but a b
Bob Newman
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good story with a pleasing background

I am not a big fan of detective novels, but I read Harry Kemelman's SATURDAY THE RABBI WENT HUNGRY with pleasure because in addition to a mystery/murder plot (which, OK, may not have been the trickiest I ever read)he surrounded the story with a lot of Jewish lore, cultural details of a synagogue's inner workings, and--for me--familiar local detail. It certainly helps to be from Marblehead when you read Kemelman stories because, for the most part, that is wher
Feb 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I really enjoyed the first book in this "old" series, and had hoped to use it as lighter fare between weightier reads (or as a $1.99 Kindle read whilst also reading a "real" book). I was fascinated by some of the insights into the practice of the Jewish faith, and liked the sort of socially inept Rabbi Small. In fact, it had the same sort of tone and charm that Jan Karon's Mitford series, with a side of murder.

This one, however, felt so much more heavy-handed, with several pop-up plot developme
Sue Dix
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the 2nd Rabbi Small mystery and it is just as much fun as the 1st. I guess you could consider it a cozy mystery? Nothing really awful seems to happen in them, well, except for the dead person, but they don’t seem especially gruesome. Also, I love the lessons about Judaism. And I love Rabbi Small and his wife, Miriam.
Alonzo Church
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rabbi Small doesn’t set out to be a master detective. He’s just an average guy with a pregnant wife and an honest tongue that gets him in trouble with the powerful people in his congregation. An architect with an edifice complex wants to build a new building for the synagogue — and he’s the president. The rabbi tells him they don’t need the new building. The father of the rich guy in the congregation won’t take his medicine, because it’s a fast day. The rabbi threatens to refuse to bury him in t ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
As a primer in Judaism, it works well. Those instructional passages, which comprise much of the book, are interesting. As a mystery, it’s weak, almost non-existent. The rabbi is a very likable, analytical guy who is focused on his mission as a teacher; but he doesn’t make for a very compelling detective.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Most decidedly not my kind of book. Too much lecturing/discussion on various topics of the time (1966), none of which concerned the mystery.

2020 Calendar of Crime - September #5 Other September holiday - Yom Kippur
Sep 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The protagonist of this story is Rabbi Small, a youthful figure at the beginning of his career. A Jewish man is found dead in his car which causes some controversy at the synagogue when his non-Jewish wife wants him buried in their cemetery. This is a very insightful book which delves into aspects of the Jewish faith. The mystery is less a focus than the internal politics that Rabbi Small is dealing with.

Readers should be aware that some language and attitudes are reflective of the time period t
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really dated (mid-to-late 60's), but overlooking the racism and sexism and all the other ism's I'm enjoying the series immensely. It's like a history lesson, intro to Judaism (for me), and cozy mystery all-in-one. David Small is such an endearing character...
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
A man is found dead drunk in his garage--make that just plain dead. Was it an accident, suicide, or murder? Who would want a harmless mathematician dead, and that on Yom Kippour, the Day of Atonement? Did the corpse have a skeleton in his closet, or was his shiksa wife just hoping to cash in?

Much better than the first volume of the Rabbi Small series, Kemelman begins to hit his stride in this instalment. Good red herrings abound (I always did love rollmops) and the blending of Jewish philosophy
Jonathan Lane
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
The second book int eh Rabbi Small mystery series. After reading the first book "Friday The Rabbi Slept Late", I jumped on this book expecting the same excellence. Don't get me wrong, this book doesn't disappoint and delivers on the twist at the end when the reader is finally told "who-dun-it". My only issue with this book is that it was a slow start. The first half of the book rather drags on is full of congregational politics. Once the book picks up, you can't put it down. I will defiantly con ...more
Was it suicide?? and should the Rabbi have buried him in the Jewish cemetery?? are the key questions in this mystery.

I like Rabbi Small and his reluctant but intellectual style. Thank goodness he has such a practical wife.

This series is turning out to be very good, the formula stays the same but the theology is new and keeps it interesting.
Nov 18, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting and short. I learned quite a bit about Judaism. Interesting mystery, not entirely predictable. Nice read.
Jamie Collins
Jun 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
A pleasant read. These first two books are very short, set close together in time, and have the same characters, so that they read together like one average-sized novel.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is the 2nd appearance of Rabbi David Small, a young, "rookie" rabbi at a synogogue in an upstart, suburban Boston community which only recently has had many Jews in the town. The young rabbi is a superbly revealed character who excels this time in detection by Talmudic logic, a form of hairsplitting argument and deduction called pilpul. He is not a detective. He is a rabbi, who is more of a facilitator to the well-being of the community in Barnard Crossing.

The location remains in his
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Not as elegant as the first book in the series but I enjoyed reading it over a couple of distracted days when I had bits and pieces of time to read, not enough to get engrossed in anything challenging. The mystery plot is a little denser than in the first book, and the information about the religion and culture wasn't integrated into the plot as smoothly; it felt more info-dumpy. Still, it's interesting and the plot held my attention.

One thing I've noticed about both books is the portrayal of th
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
I am really enjoying the Rabbi series. I'm sorry I didn't get into them when they first came out because then some of the references and situations wouldn't seem so dated. But still, I love the Rabbi with his concise, logical (Talmudic?), mind that seems so scattered to others, but hones in like a laser beam to the exact clue and question to solve the murder. In this one there were a lot of red herrings as the victim, although no longer a practicing Jew and an alcoholic, seems to have had a lot ...more
Rick Kelley
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
After the introduction to the Rabbi and the Chief of Police in the first book in the series, I was pleased to see the relationship carry through in this story. Although the relationship/friendship was not as close as in the first book (and nearly ending) it was repaired although perhaps not as strong as it was before. Not sure why Kemelman went this route but perhaps it will play out in the next in the series. As in the first book in the series the plot is well developed and the character develo ...more
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the second of the Rabbi Small mysteries and Rabbi Small is still new to the congregation. His wife is carrying their first child during Yom Kippur. There is much to learn about some of the religious customs that surround that time. however, there is also another death in the community. The question is was it suicide, an accident, or something worse.

of course, Rabbi Small ends up in the thick of things. The dead person was a non-observant Jew, but his wife wants him buried in the Jewish c
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is the second in the Rabbi Small series, and has the same structure. On the one hand there is a murder to solve, and on the other there is an extended lesson in Judaism. Both are interesting, though there is a bit too much of the latter for the story to move as smoothly as it might. The key theological question here concerns what is appropriate burial someone who appears to have committed suicide.

The mystery is pretty good. Kemelman amply dispenses red herrings, and this, for me at least,
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm reading this series out of order - this is number two. The mystery was good, and as usual I got to learn a bit about Judaism in the process. This book focused on attitudes about suicide, burial practices and Yom Kippur. It was published in 1966, so there were mentions of the Civil Rights Movement, and the rabbi couldn't even see his wife at the hospital before the birth of their baby (!).

The foreword for this edition was written later, and the author revealed that he was inspired by his exp
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Play Book Tag: Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman - 4 stars 1 14 Mar 26, 2018 11:08AM  

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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

Other books in the series

The Rabbi Small Mysteries (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Friday the Rabbi Slept Late (The Rabbi Small Mysteries #1)
  • 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 Rabbi Small Mysteries)
  • The Day the Rabbi Resigned

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
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“suppose he were to donate a laboratory to Brandeis or even to Harvard? The” 0 likes
“Ben is a businessman through and through. When a businessman decides that the time has come to give charity, he views it as a business proposition. He is buying kovod, honor. And naturally he wants to get the most for his kovod dollar. If he uses the money to build a chapel—say the Goralsky Memorial Chapel—who will see it? Who will know about it except the folks here in Barnard’s Crossing? But,” he lowered his voice, “suppose he were to donate a laboratory to Brandeis or even to Harvard? The Goralsky Chemical Research Laboratory? Eh? Scientists and scholars from all over the world would get to hear of it.” 0 likes
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