Ten Jewish Men in a World That Is Heartbroken

  • Author(s): Sobel, Eliezer
  • Series: Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 0000-00-00
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $32.00 | Buy Now

Winner for the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, Minyan is the story of Norbert Wilner, a man who mastered the art of arrested development. At thirty-seven, he lives in New York City, still trying to find his place in the world and still hanging out with the Jewish guys he grew up with in the Jersey suburbs. Most of them remain single and continue to search for God, women, and a good deli sandwich, though not necessarily in that order. Bernstein is a Hindu, Greenlatt’s a Sufi, Weissbaum worships Willie Mays, and nobody likes Finkelstein, the big-shot lawyer and born-again Christian. And Freddy Lipschitz has just died.

As these middle-aged men gather to mourn their childhood friend, they begin to take stock – and make shtick – of their failures relationships, missed opportunities, questionable careers, and the underlying sense of dread that pervades their existence. Norbert takes the opportunity to make two important decisions: he will become a rabbi to save other Jewish souls, and he will start the Happy Sense Funeral Parlor.

Despite growing up in the seemingly carefree America of the 1950’s, Norbert and his friends still find themselves living in the long shadow of the Holocaust. Fearful children of nervous Jewish mothers, they were instructed to be wary of everyone and everything; to lock the doors, wear earmuffs and marry Jewish girls. “Who knew, at age twelve, that there could be a direct link between little Mary-Anne and Hitler? But there was. The innocent Sunday school cross around her neck may as well have been a swastika, to anyone who had survived the war, as my mother did. I saw a cute girl in pigtails; my mother saw Hitler youth, saw ovens and smoke and her dead grandmother.”

A chance meeting with the eccentric Rob Miltie helps Norbert clarify his spiritual life. He begins to find salvation through humor, the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, and the camaraderie of lifelong friends as they passionately pursue meaning, marriage and the healing properties of brisket. Inventive, lyrical, and poignantly funny. Minyan celebrates endurance, men baffled by the affairs of the adult world, and the healing power of laughter and friendship.

Eliezer Sobel has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in the Village Voice, Tikkun, Quest Magazine, New Age Journal, and others. He is the author of Wild Heart Dancing, and the former publisher and editor of the Wild Heart Journal. He lives in Batesville, Virginia.