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Introduction & Overview of The Pagan Rabbi by Cynthia Ozick

This Study Guide consists of approximately 68 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Pagan Rabbi.
This section contains 252 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
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The Pagan Rabbi Summary & Study Guide Description

The Pagan Rabbi Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on The Pagan Rabbi by Cynthia Ozick.


"The Pagan Rabbi" was first published in the 1971 collection The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories, which garnered extensive critical acclaim for Cynthia Ozick. The book won the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award in 1971, The Jewish Book Council Award, and the Edward Lewis Wallant Memorial Award in 1972, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in 1973. It was also nominated for a National Book Award in 1971.

"The Pagan Rabbi" is told from the point of view of an unnamed narrator, who learns that Isaac Kornfeld, a renowned thirty-six-year-old rabbi with whom the narrator was acquainted, has committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in a park. The narrator, seeking to understand Isaac's motive, first goes to see the tree from which he hanged himself, and then to see the rabbi's widow, Sheindal Kornfeld. The widow asks him to read the notebook and the letter found in the rabbi's pockets upon his death. The narrator and the widow discuss the meaning of the extensive musings of the rabbi, which address theological and philosophical questions regarding faith and the soul in relation to Nature. They conclude that the rabbi had secretly become a "pagan," seduced by a Creature that seemed to be a goddess of Nature.

This story addresses themes that appear in much of Ozick's short fiction, including the place of Judaism in secular America, idolatry, death, the soul, paganism, and crises in faith. It also addresses themes of marriage and family in relation to Jewish identity.

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This section contains 252 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Pagan Rabbi Study Guide
The Pagan Rabbi from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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