The Rabbi Slurps Spaghetti

Apples & Honey. Apr. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781681155432.
PreS-Gr 1–The message about the many wonderful things a rabbi does while still having a family overwhelms this well-meaning but purposeful story. Lena wants to be a detective, so to hone her skills she is working on the case of how “Rabbi Max” can do so much. She shadows him, listing many of his activities, such as teaching Torah, braiding challah, leading services, volunteering, etc. and sneaking in some “secrets,” like leaving dirty socks around and slurping his spaghetti. Finally, she concludes he is an “awesome person” and reveals that she knows his secrets because he is her father. While this functions as a pleasant introduction to a rabbi’s many jobs, as a story it is weak at best. Lena’s framing story is a stretch. She never really solves how he does everything, and in an attempt to keep her relationship with him secret, she refers to him as “Rabbi Max” throughout until the final reveal, which feels contrived. Minus the frame, the text is concise and moves along nicely. The cartoonish illustrations feature big-eyed, appealingly happy-looking characters with a variety of hair and skin tones. They have a sketchy look that enhances the movement and adds to the appeal.
VERDICT This is a sweet but not entirely successful story with an obvious lesson. Jewish school and temple libraries seeking books that portray rabbis in an accessible way may find a use for it, but others can pass

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