Ruchama King Feuerman, dubbed the “Jewish Jane Austen” by Kirkus Reviews, will discuss her novel In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist as part of the Jewish Book Fest.
In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, a 2013 National Jewish Book Award Finalist, is a novel about unlikely friendships in modern-day Jerusalem. Isaac, a haberdasher for the Lower East Side, moves to Israel to repair his broken heart and becomes the assistant to an elderly kabbalist who dispenses wisdom (and soup) to the troubled souls who wash up in his courtyard. There Isaac meets the flame-haired Tamar, a newly-religious young American hipster on a mission to live a spiritual life with a spiritual man.
Into both of their lives comes Mustafa, deformed at birth, a janitor who works on the Temple Mount. When Mustafa finds an ancient relic that may date back to the First Temple, he shares it with Isaac. That gesture sets in motion a series of events that lands Isaac in the company of Israel’s worst criminal riff raff, puts Mustafa in mortal danger, and leaves Tamar struggling to save them both. As these character—immigrants and natives; Muslim and Jewish; prophets and lost souls—move through their worlds, they are never sure if they will fall prey to cruel tricks of luck or be sheltered by a higher power.