With eloquence and wit, Wayne Hoffman explores the unlikely camaraderie between a young Jewish man and an Orthodox rabbi, in this rich, insightful novel about love, honesty, faith, and belonging. In Yiddish, there is a word for it: bashert - the person you are fated to meet. Twenty-something Benji Steiner views the concept with skepticism. But the elderly rabbi who stumbles into Benji's office one day has no such doubts. Jacob Zuckerman's late wife, Sophie, was his bashert. And now that she's gone, Rabbi Zuckerman grapples with overwhelming grief and loneliness. Touched by the rabbi's plight, Benji becomes his helper - driving him home after work, sitting in his living room listening to stories. Their friendship baffles everyone, especially Benji's sharp-tongued, modestly observant mother. But Benji is rediscovering something he didn't know he'd lost. Yet the test of friendship, and of both men's faith, lies in the difficult truths they come to share. With each revelation, Benji learns what it means not just to be Jewish, but to be fully human - imperfect, striving, and searching for the pieces of ourselves that come only through another's acceptance.
The focused yet funny main character has a coming of age story that helps him find the interconnectedness of faith, love, friendship, and family. Hoffman finds that being Jewish is different for every Jew but in the end, if you're looking for your puzzle piece to fit, you'll find your place in the tribe. Whether you like it or not!