|In the Courtyard of|
In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist opens a few years later. Isaac has found a home with the Grodin's as an assistant to the rabbi. The elderly rabbi is not well, but Isaac lacks the confidence in himself to counsel people the way the rabbi does. He also lacks the confidence he needs to make a success of dating. All the women he dates become exasperated with him because he always waits for others to make the move.
|Wailing Wall. 1920.|
As the controversy over the pomegranate grows, Isaac struggles to be a good rabbi and to show his affection to Tamar, an American who came to Israel to live a religious life and find a religious husband. It's a touching story, though I grew exasperated myself at Isaac's passivity. He's the story of man who needs to be pulled to the end of the diving board, then pushed off because he will never jump himself.
Judaism, Jewish tradition, and Islam and Islamic tradition run all through In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist. I was not pleased by the portrayal of the Muslims in this book. Apart from Mustafa, they're shown to be irreligious, venal, and cruel. It cheapens the story. Feuerman is capable of writing more nuanced characters, as she shows with all her Jewish characters. In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist could have been much better than it was (and it was already pretty good) if it had embraced more of the complexity inherent in the premise.