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Four Rabbis at Lunch

Candid Conversations Among American Clergy

By Dov Peretz Elkins

Many people want to know what rabbis talk about when they know that no layperson is listening. Four Rabbis At Lunch provides a fictional attempt at replicating some of these intimate, no layperson present conversations by listening in on four rabbis as they meet for their weekly lunch. 

 About the Author

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins is a nationally known lecturer, educator, workshop leader, author, and book critic, and is a popular speaker on the Jewish circuit. Rabbi Elkins is a recipient of the National Jewish Book Award and is the author of over fifty books. His Chicken Soup For The Jewish Soul was on the NY Times best-seller list. His most recent books are Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth: Inspiring Tales to Nourish the Heart and SoulTales of the RighteousSimple Actions for Jews to Help Green the PlanetHeart and Scroll: Inspiring Stories from the MastersIn the Spirit: Insights for Spiritual Renewal in the 21st Century; and For Those Left Behind: A Jewish Anthology of Comfort and Healing.

Praise for Four Rabbis At Lunch:

“What do rabbis discuss when they get together in private? Dov Peretz Elkins, a rabbi of many years and a writer, makes that question the intriguing basis for his new novel, Four Rabbis at Lunch.”

Professor Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College


Four Rabbis at Lunch is a marvelous discussion sprinkled with seriousness, humor and a great amount of important information about what rabbis have to deal with whatever their denomination and struggles. Much to learn from, to have a good laugh, and think what Judaism is all about and why it is of crucial importance.”

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo, author of Jewish Law as Rebellion


“Based on his lifetime of experience in the Conservative rabbinate, Dov Peretz Elkins invites readers to eavesdrop as four fictional rabbis – Conservative, Orthodox and Reform – gather weekly to converse and schmooze. Major issues that rabbis face in their work – everything from intermarriage and Israel to circumcision and sex – fill out these conversations, which are punctuated by learning, humor and practical wisdom. More eye-opening than any sermon, this is a guide to what rabbis really talk about among themselves.”

Professor Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University


“Through the lunch-table conversation of four imaginary rabbis, Four Rabbis at Lunch offers the reader an original perspective on the Jewish community and Jewish religious leadership in our time by a master rabbi drawing on his decades of experience in the Jewish community.”

Professor Raymond Scheindlin, Jewish Theological Seminary


“Rabbi Elkins has written a book that richly reflects his many years on the pulpit. His liberal Conservative perspective is balanced by other rabbinic voices he has created. The result is a book that teaches his valuable Torah in an engaging and charming way.”

Rabbi David A. Teutsch, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College


“The rabbis may be fictional, but the brilliant Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins is sharing truths stranger and more meaningful than fiction. If you’ve ever wondered how rabbis make decisions, grab this book. You’ll find it hard to put down!”

Professor Ron Wolfson, American Jewish University

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~Review by Fred Isaac, Temple Sinai, Oakland, CA, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews
What do rabbis talk about? In this book the distinguished Rabbi Elkins takes us behind the scenes, as a group meets every week. The volume records a series of weekly (fictional) conversations among friends: one is Orthodox, one is Conservative, and two are Reform. One of the discussants (who joins in week 5) is a woman. In every session each of them gives thoughts, personal anecdotes, and opinions. There is no story here, just an extensive discussion. The topics vary widely, from “should I take part in a wedding when the Ketubah is not Halakhic?” to issues of Jewish education. It can be read as both a conversational novel (think of the film “My Dinner with Andre”) and a thoughtful, well-researched exposition of contemporary Jewish thought on a range of subjects. Each chapter/meal covers several topics, and the group returns to some issues, analyzing different side-issues and questions of Halacha each time. There are occasional lectures, but they are limited in length, and meant to inform the reader rather than lecture. The author is respectful of his participants, and accurately reports the opinions of each movement and their different views. Rabbi Elkins is both knowledgeable and comfortable, and the book moves well. But without a through-line it feels like a series of responsa and opinions. It is a novel, but the ideas it presents are very real. Because there is no index or bibliography (though some book citations and websites are provided in the text), its reference or scholarly value is limited. It would be best used by working rabbis or rabbinical students, but it’s difficult to imagine as a “fun” read, even for knowledgeable congregants. (Posted on 11/11/2019)

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Additional Info

Additional Info

ISBN 9781602803480
Pages 488
Format Softcover
SKU urim1536
Publisher Ktav Publishing House