High Holiday Sutra

A novel by Allan Appel

October 1, 1997 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 240 pages • 978-1-56689-065-6

A Jewish-Buddhist love story and satire of modern religious mores during a Yom Kippur sermon.

In a heartbreaking and hilarious Yom Kippur sermon, Jonah tells a tragicomic Jewish-Buddhist love story that takes on one of the critical religious issues of the 1990s—can we stay true to tradition and keep our faith relevant to our everyday lives?

About the Author

Born in Chicago in 1946 and raised in Los Angeles, Allan Appel is a novelist, poet, and playwright whose books include Club Revelation, High Holiday Sutra, winner of a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, and The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His writing has appeared in the National Jewish Monthly, the Progressive, and National Lampoon, and his plays have been produced in New York, Chicago, New Haven, and Provincetown. He has published a total of six novels, a biography, two collections of poetry, a book on botany, and A Portable Apocalypse, a handy anthology of erudite and humorous quotations about the end of the world.

Allan Appel holds degrees in writing and comparative literature from Columbia University and City University of New York, and he attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Most recently he has worked at the Jewish Museum and taught English at the Trinity School in NYC. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, where in 2003 he was awarded a fellowship in fiction from the State of Connecticut Commission on the Arts.


“American Jews have been mixing Buddhist saffron with Jewish matzoballs for over three decades now, but not until Allan Appel’s rabbi in High Holiday Sutra have we seen the perfect result. High Holiday Sutra is emotionally Jewish, philosophically Buddhist, and esthetically American. Om Shalom.” —Andrei Codrescu

High Holiday Sutra should be an occasion for rejoicing and soul searching for the organized Jewish community. In a powerful and raucously funny story, Appel reveals the impotency of much of American Jewish life, its inability to sustain the spiritual or psychological energies of its youth, and its total failure to be witness to God’s presence on earth. Appel’s novel explores the belly of the beast of American Jewish life and its spiritual mid-life crisis.” —Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun and author of Jewish Renewal: a Path to Healing and Transformation

“I’ve never heard such a voice such as Jonah’s in High Holiday Sutra. It captures a period and perspective that have been marginalized, if not hidden. The book is an inspiration.” —Joan Rosenbaum, Director of The Jewish Museum, New York

“Written with great energy and humor. The characters are beautifully drawn—my favorite is the narrator’s father, sitting in shul listening to baseball scores.” —Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Jew and the Lotus