Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Christmas for Joshua by Avraham Azrieli (Review by Melissa)

   Have you ever had a true test of your religion? Your faith? For anyone who is Jewish, Orthodox Jewish or of Christian religion this book is the perfect eyeopener for you. The story is of Rusty, a Jewish heart surgeon originally from NY now transplated to Arizona, and the missteps that happen after finding out his daughter is going to marry an Orthodox Jewish boy in NY. Rusty automatically worries for his daughter and the severity of the religion. Rusty, once named Christian, converted to the Jewish religion for his wife Rebecca in his early 20's. Fast forward many years later, their only daughter is now in college and Rusty is the president of their local synagogue, donating his not so free time for, well, free. After finding out that Debra, his daughter, is going to marry Mordechai in a few months time, right around the Christmas holiday, Rebecca and Rusty plan to travel to NY.

   Here is where the twists and turns of the novel start. Rusty suffers untold pain while in Manhattan at the hands of Mordechai's parents and rabbi because he is a shaygetz, a half Christian Jewish boy, or not full Jew. He isn't even allowed to participate in Debra's wedding. For this man, who has given up all relics of his previous life religion for the Jewish culture this is the final straw. Almost like a full on midlife crisis, he experiences a religious crisis that pushes the limits of all that surrounds him: family, friends and synagogue.

   This novel is a beautifully written, heartfelt novel, perfect for anyone with Jewish background. There are many terms, sentences, and words that correlate with the Jewish faith. The author, Avraham Azrieli, also includes many facets of the Christian faith and as most know the two don't usually go hand in hand. Keep in mind you don't have to follow either religion to read the book, but you should know of the strong theme that is throughtout the book, and is in fact the basis of the story.


I had no idea of what to expect when I picked up this story. It played like a Jewish version of Father The Bride mixed with after school special and a Woody Allen script. At its heart, it's a story about a father struggling with an interfaith marriage. It a story of a father balancing his own beliefs against a more tradition view. It's a story of a man "returning" to his religion as well as balancing this with his marriage. It's a story based in real life. It was a nice change from my normal read. I definitely recommend it.

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