And the Flames Did Not Consume Us: A Rabbi's Journey Through Communal Crisis

Gary Mazo, Author, Stephen R. Treat, Foreword by Rising Star Press $16 (158p) ISBN 978-0-933670-06-8
When Carol Neulander was found beaten to death in her suburban New Jersey home on November 1, 1994, local gossip mills began churning. Was it true that her husband, a charismatic rabbi with a large and loyal following, was a philanderer? Did he have something to do with her death? The answer to the former, according to Mazo, may be yes. The latter has yet to be resolved; the rabbi will soon stand trial for capital murder and felony murder. Even without the ending, this tale has all the makings of a great true-crime story. But Mazo, who served as Rabbi Neulander's assistant for four years before the murder and remained at the synagogue until 1999, deliberately avoids ""salacious details"" and taking sides. Instead, he tells the powerful story of how he helped to shepherd the synagogue's 1,000 families through a protracted process of grieving and acceptance that was complicated and compromised each time additional rumors surfaced about their former spiritual leader. Mazo felt safest addressing the issues through his sermons, many of which he scatters throughout the book (and which would have served better in a separate appendix). His lessons on the dangers of gossip, the importance of keeping a synagogue holy despite the encroachments of the outside world and the reality that one very flawed individual does not embody the whole of a religion are valuable even outside the context of this tragic story. (Dec. 15)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
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