The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air

  • Review
By – December 22, 2011
Allan Appel’s The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air cap­tures the voice of eccen­tric Hebrew schol­ar Nor­man Plum­mer, as he recounts the sto­ry of his sev­en­teen-year-old self tutor­ing Bel Air princess Bay­la Adler in the sum­mer of 1963. The sto­ry goes beyond the one crazy sum­mer” nar­ra­tive into a big­ger explo­ration of Norman’s jour­ney from rabbi’s geeky teenaged assis­tant at Junior Cong to adult appli­cant for the job of spir­i­tu­al leader of the King Solomon Bik­ers Club. Bayla’s par­ents hire Nor­man to pre­pare their daugh­ter for her upcom­ing bat mitz­vah, but lit­tle Hebrew is addressed dur­ing the lessons. A friend­ship is formed based on both char­ac­ters’ need to escape their home lives and see the world on the back of a motor­cy­cle, and more specif­i­cal­ly, ful­fill Bayla’s desire for a reverse Jew­ish nose job. Appel is the author of sev­er­al books, includ­ing The Rab­bi of Casi­no Boule­vard, a final­ist for a Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award.

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