In the late fifties and sixties, Greenwich Village was the quirkiest, most charming, jazzy, eccentric and urban of environments, the center of all that was both quaint and “cool”: brownstones and beatniks, coffeehouses and college students, folksingers and freethinkers, poets and “prophets.” Into this fascinating mix of cultural archetypes came a young rabbi, Harvey M. Tattelbaum, who became known as the Village Rabbi of the Village Temple.
The spirit of Sholom Aleichem infuses his Tales of the Village Rabbi, a touching and laugh-out-loud funny memoir of his tenure at a small synagogue in the heart of Greenwich Village. Though his years in this magical place were productive and soul-filling, rabbinical training hadn’t exactly prepared him for the bikers, thieves, ex-cons, eccentric old ladies, drug-users, cleavage-baring brides and other Village denizens he encountered while serving the congregants of his spirited little temple.
Rabbi Tattelbaum shares his insider’s tales-both downtown and uptown-of wayward weddings (and funerals), contentious temple boards, irreverent interfaith shenanigans, heartaches and triumphs. But the Tales also reveal a deep personal struggle with some of the most profound philosophical problems of ancient and modern religion and are filled with a warm, humane and rational approach to spirituality and religious meaning.