Author: Avraham Azrieli
Pages: 292, Paperback
Reviewed by: S. Marie Vernon
Pacific Book Review
Christmas for Joshua is a sensational novel written by seasoned Israeli author, Avraham Azrieli. This first person narrative is filled with religious paradoxes, sure to test any faith, and delivered just in time for the holidays! A devoted Jewish husband and father sees his world turned upside down when, just before Christmas, Mordechai, an orthodox Jewish boy, asks his daughter to marry him. On her wedding day, Rusty Dinwall is shaken to his very core and begins questioning all that he holds dear about the Jewish faith; the faith he has devoted his life too. Rusty converted from Christianity, over two decades ago, before he and his Jewish wife, Rebecca, took their own wedding vows. “Tis the Season to be Jolly,” but, not for this loving father unable to accompany his daughter down the aisle.
Rusty is a picture of success; he’s an accomplished heart surgeon, has a loving wife and daughter and is completely devoted to them and their Jewish faith and Synagogue where he is the President. Debra is deeply in love with Mordechai, so Rusty and Rebecca can only give their blessings when he asks for her hand in marriage. Secretly, they worry about the extreme views and traditions of the orthodox Jewish church. Then, the wedding day kicks off a personal saga for Rusty that becomes poignant, heart-breaking, and heart-wrenching as he struggles to find his place in his daughter’s new life. He is faced with one conundrum after another with no easy solutions for him. The Rabbi called him a Shaygetz-not a true Jew in the orthodox Jewish faith. This little detail threatens his very existence among his new in-laws who expect him to convert to their orthodox standards. Outraged, Rusty draws solace from the memory of his mother and her Christian faith. Meanwhile, Christmas Eve approaches. As each chapter unfolds, Rusty turns up the Christmas music and themes of his childhood, using them, as he grasps for ways to express himself through his stress and indignation at the circumstances he and Rebecca must face. The predicament leads Rusty to actions that could be described as comical satire, except it could all turn tragic because it isn’t exactly, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” for Rusty.
Avraham Azrieli is an astute and accomplished author and novelist. His latest creation, Christmas for Joshua, is a wonderful five-star spiritual fiction he can add to his growing collection. Avraham Azrieli proves himself, time and again, to be a popular contemporary writer for our troubled times, as his plots often expose attitudes, beliefs, and actions that contribute to human suffering. Christmas for Joshua is no exception as Rusty’s personal story is all but a metaphor for how humanity itself cries out for religious tolerance and acceptance. Ultimately, this touching story can bring a little more, “Joy to the World”, as Christians and non-Christians, alike, cannot help but at a basic human level feel compassion for Rusty, and wish him and his Jewish family a most Happy Rosh Hashanah in the coming year!