Monday, May 10, 2010

Finished: "The Big Kahn" by Neil Kleid

Finished: The Big Kahn: a sequential drama by Neil, 2009, 9781561635610.

Comic book novel. A rabbi's family and congregation sit at the rabbi's funeral. The rabbi has preached at the synagogue for over 20 years and was well regarded and respected. In walks some dude to proclaim (paraphrased) "What a crock, my brother was a con not a Kahn!" Family shocked. Family disbelieving. Rabbi had said he was an orphan of WWII. Turns out he grew up in Brooklyn and ran cons with his brother. One con was gypping Jewish families and organizations out of money promised for Israel or different charities. Kahn falls in love with a girl and continues the charade for years. After a time, the charade goes away and he loves his God, his life, his work and his family.

Family starts having trouble: religious doubt, anger, sorrow, anger at father, love for father, scandal of synagogue, eldest son - also a rabbi - fired from father's synagogue. Family starts to get things back together. Eldest son fucks his sister's roommate and wonders if he is rabbinically fit. Eldest son goes to interview for rabbi job in New Jersey and doesn't want to lie. Open ended ending.

1. Some issues I wonder about. For instance, what makes a rabbi? Kahn was knowledgeable, devout, and honest (yeah, actually), loved his family, and taught his kids about God and their religion. Does not his devotion and belief count as conversion. Was their church so strict as to not consider conversion? He never taught anything wrong but the after-the-fact betrayal was too much for the congregation to take.
2. Kahn's brother accepted the rabbi's request to leave him alone in his new life. He seems to only show up so he can find out if he was in the will. The guy is sleazy.
3. The daughter is slutty and rejecting the religious life she grew up in.
4. Amazing what a cultural influence jews and judaism have had when considering what a small number of people there are. Sometimes I get sick of hearing the family stories of religious and cultural strife. But how can I? I'm the one who keeps reserving the books, reads them, and finds them interesting. Part of me is just annoyed that I seem to be missing out on not being part of a group that seems insular at times. That and the cultural and religious differences mean I am not quite understanding what the hell is going on.
5. You know what would have been much more convenient? If I had noticed there was a glossary in the back before I finished the book.
6. Kahn liked Glenlivet.
7. Kahn never lied about being Jewish and educated as a Rabbi, no one ever asked him.
8. Wait a minute, is rabbi supposed to be capitalized or not?

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