Friday, October 18, 2019

#GIVEAWAY Review Waiting for the Messiah Interview with author Sheldon Greene

I absolutely love the range of genres and authors that the publicity firm Author/Guide represents and when I saw Waiting For The Messiah come across my desk I knew I needed to read it and find out more about the author.  I was surprised that Waiting For The Messiah is book 3 in a trilogy but happy that it could be read as a stand a-lone. What I found out about the author made me want to read more by Sheldon Greene, I hope it does the same for you. Author/Guide is sponsoring a Giveaway of Waiting For The Messiah, details below.

Publisher: BookBaby

Release Date: 10-15-2019

American Quartet #3
 Author/Guide for review



When the Bolton Jewish Community converts a disused retirement home to a boarding school and hires a Russian refugee to direct it and the retirees as staff, the small town of Bolton, Pennsylvania celebrates the change. But when the director admits a Palestinian boy, schedules Palestine National Day and a fundraiser for a Catholic homeless shelter, the family that endowed the retirement home fifty years earlier sues to regain their trust fund. This action sets in motion a series of events that results in the notion that the school director might be Jesus Christ himself. But is he?Waiting for the Messiah, the sequel to the critically-acclaimed novel Lost and Found, is a modern-day imagining of the second coming of Christ to a small Jewish community. Full of warmth, humor and the celebration of the extraordinary in the ordinary, it appeals to the faithful of all religions and iconoclasts alike.

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Read an excerpt:


started it.
"I want Isaac to have a real education," he said, looking around at the Synagogue Board with his wise hound's eyes.
Those were the words that began it all. Just eight words; a few sounds tossed into the air of the boardroom. But words have power. They can make people kill, make them fall in love, even buy appliances they don't need.
Nobody paid attention to Nudelman that day. There were more pressing matters to be decided at that meeting, like where to get the money for re-wiring the sanctuary. The eternal light kept going out and if you can't have an eternal light over the ark, what kind of a sanctuary is it?
Although some would say that the Torah has its own light, but not everybody can see it.
It's easy to find the money for a nice stained-glass window, but who wants a bronze plaque that says Abe Strauss, circuit breaker?
Here I am, not even a page into my story and already digressing. Sorry. You have a right to go from here to there in a reasonably direct route, not by way of Minsk and Pinsk, as my Uncle Mayer used to say. On the other hand, who knows what you'll see in Pinsk? Listen! Put this book down right now and go on to something less airy than the Messiah and his coming. No? You're curious. Good.
Nudelman didn't let it drop. He kept pushing the idea of a Jewish day school. They don't call him Needleman for nothing. He constantly complained about the public schools in Bolton, the thirty-five students to a class, the dumbing-down of the textbooks. He’d say, "There's no texture to

history; it reads like a deodorant commercial," The crime and drugs!” and "My God, school is like life!" He’d rage about the lack of amenities: "The school doesn't even have an orchestra anymore. Can you imagine a violinist in the school band marching down the football field? He’d mention the shallowness of the kids Jewish culture: "They care more about the Young Judea dances than the Bible." Not that Nudelman was a great, or even a trivial, biblical scholar, but maybe he saw a lack in himself and wanted more for Isaac, his only child.
His carping and harping went on for about a year, until one evening, at the end of a long meeting, Finkelstein’s eyes looked ready to pop as he glared across the polished mahogany of the board of directors table, slapped down his spiral secretary's notebook, and hollered, "What do you want from us? Stop already with the Jewish day school. It's impossible! A dream. A fantasy! You want a school? Move to Pittsburgh!"
By the look of him, Nudelman wasn't bothered by the outburst. Not at all. Nudelman had finally touched a nerve. They were listening. He hit the accelerator and peeled rubberyou could almost smell it.
"Bolton's Jewish community is going the way of Megiddo," he said. Nobody but Rabbi Bing knew what he was talking about. "If one more family moves to Phoenix, we can open an archeological park and sell tickets. We need to do something that will restore the vitality of the community. And my solution is a Jewish boarding school."
A shiver of approval, less than a nod, came from Rabbi Bing, but the rest of the Board glowered. Rosenzweig, a lawyer and no friend of private education, took the lead. He shook his head, causing his jowls to quiver like Jello, and pronounced, "You think you're the Music Man, Nudelman? Let me give not one no, but three nos. No money. No building. No students."
"Not exactly," Nudelman retorted . He drew a little circle on his scratch pad then looked at each of them in turn, his face showing the after-blush of a secret joke.
"Nudelman has had a letter from the Reparations Board," said Dr. Zucker.,  Phil Feld

pulled a cigar out of his suit pocket. Chastened, by Heda Finkelstein’s frown, he contented himself with crinkling the cellophane between his fingers.
"Are you going to watch the Pirates game?" he asked Finkelstein, who looked in response as though someone had already blown smoke in his eyes.
About that time Nudelman, was standing, preparing for a dramatic exit, when Rabbi Bing, always the conciliator, stopped him with a firm touch from his long fingers.
"Let's once and for all hear Nudelman out on this, shall we?" He raised his head heavenward for emphasis, as if he expected God to vote. Then he gave one of his sweep-the-room-full-of- meaning glances from behind his inch-thick lenses. The rabbi's palm flipped and gracefully gestured toward Nudelman, who remained standing, poised over the table, as if he were preparing to vault across it. (Nudelman had vaulted for Bolton High.)
"How many Jewish boarding schools are there in this country?" Nudelman asked, and before anyone could speak, he answered, "None?"
"So what!" said Rosenzweig, leaning his bulk into the words. "You might as well ask how many crocodiles there are in the Monoganessen River. It is beyond our small means. The Pritzkers (he meant rich people) chose to make their home a bit farther down the turnpike in Chicago."
"Hear him out," said Rabbi Bing, with a sprinkle of pepper in his usually mild tone. "Don't interrupt."
"Thank you, Rabbi Bing," said Nudelman. "Don't think I haven't thought about it. Maybe this'll shock you, but when you think about it, it'll make some sense."
"Get on with it, Nudelman, life is passing you by," Finkelstein chided. "OK."
"Do that." Finkelstein just had to have the last word. "It's simple."
"We're all ears." Finkelstein does in fact have big ears.

"The Home for the Aged." "So? What about it?"
Nudelman's hound eyes lit up with a vision.
"As you know, it was built as a TB sanitarium in 1912," he began, "converted in 1947 to a home for the elderly. It has spacious grounds, a solid stone Tudor gothic building, room for 150 maybe 200 if we pack them in, and an endowment, the Mossberg Trust, you all know what that's worth in income. What is it, $400,000? And thanks to aerobics, golf, vitamins, triple bypasses and Leisure World condos in the sun, we have just fivecount em: fiveseniors rattling around the place."
"So what do you have in mind? Should we sell the place and move the rest of them to Phoenix?" Rosenzweig said, shaking his leonine head. "It can't be done; we've been through that before. Close the Home for the Aged and the money goes to the Jewish Home for Parents in Pittsburgh. And they've already got enough to supply every resident with their choice of a Steinberg


"Steinway!" said Heda Finkelstein, gazing up over her half-lenses from her knitting. Heda

had one.
"Or a motorized wheelchair made by Cadillac," Rosenzweig muttered.
Nudelman looked like Edison when the light bulb started to glow. He rose up to his full five feet ten inches, opened both of his hands and proclaimed, "We don't have to. That's what I've concluded after reading the original trust. Rosenzweig, you'll like this: a section that says you can provide for all the needs of the residents."
"So, buy a color television, even a Jacuzzi!"
"What about things to do, companionship? The school will be like therapy. The old folks will teach the young, give them values, and  give them a sense of history, of generational change. And the kids will keep them company, just like grandchildren."


"That's a novel idea," said Roe. "But as I recall only one of them was a teacher. What's her

"Miss Leventhal," I said. She had been my English teacher and Nudelman's and a few of the

others as well  "We'll hire a staff of teachers, who will spend part of their time in a learning-in- retirement program."
"Nudelman, I've got to hand it to you, you should be Secretary of the Treasury. You could turn the deficit into a surplus," said Finkelstein, grinning around the table for confirmation.
"What do you think, Mendel?" asked Rabbi Bing. I was there to take notes, one of my duties as the Community Center Administratora fancy title intended to take the place of a better salary.
"Well," I began, looking around for signs of approval. No doubt about it, Nudelman had finally turned a little credibility valve in each of them. Everyone on the Board had wanted somehow to crack the stone sheath that surrounded the Old Folks Trust, as it was called. And Nudelman, they were all thinking, had possibly found the cabbalistic formula. "I like the idea," I finally said.
"You know, Nudelman. A Jewish boarding school isn't such a bad idea, now that I think of it," added Rosenzweig, pulling on a left jowl with his frankfurter-sized fingers and looking around at the others,
And so I learned something else about the gears and machinations of human events. Ideas germinate for a long time before they find validation in others. Look at Galileo, Columbus, Spinoza and the tough time they all had selling their concepts. It’s not the idea itself but the way its packaged that matters most, it seems. And whether it gives someone something they might like but don't have, that matters most of all. Now don't just get the idea that Nudelman had carried off a fait accompli, not by a long shot. But his bat had hit the ball and he was running like hell toward first base.


 is not too strong a word to describe Nudelman's dedication to the Jewish boarding school. Seeing him badger and cajole made me think of the energy he and Sarah had focused on the problem of having a child. Years had passed but they never stopped trying and finally it happened. Now here he was again, swimming against the current like a spawning salmon Isaac, their son, was now thirteen, all elbows and knees, self-conscious with a breaking voice and a few pimplesa young Nudelman with the same thick black hair and large expressive brown eyes.
One of our high school buddies once said, Nudelman sees with his ears and hears with his eyes. He played guard on the Bolton High basketball team and I remember how fast he was. In fact, Nudelman was Most Valuable Player, his senior year even though Bolton lost the divisional to Slippery Rock. About nine years back, he had sold the family plumbing supply business to a large Pittsburgh chain for what most people said was a killing, although everybody always says that about the other guy. After a few months of looking around, including three weeks on Nassau, he had the guts to buy the local GM truck dealership after the 86-year-old owner, Walter C. Taffey, broke his hip changing a tire during a teamster's strike. Everybody said he got a bargain. Rumor had it that Taffey still remembered Nudelman's winning basket the night the Bolton five stole the championship from Beaver Falls.
What did Nudelman know about trucks? Nothing, but that didn't stop him; after all, he knew how to run a business. And he made a go of it with discounts, leasing, fleet rates and who knows what else. He even installed a computer to keep track of parts, which was better than relying on Mr. Taffey's memory, so the customers said.
Every year Nudelman and Sarah did better and better. They were giving a lot more money

to the synagogue and they were spending long weekends in New York seeing plays, eating in Italian restaurants that Sarah found in Gourmet, even buying an occasional painting and replacing the framed Matisse and Cezanne posters. Enough of that. All it shows is that Nudelman doesn't let go once he starts.
Watching Nudelman chip away at the Board made me think that there are two kinds of achievementsbig and little. Most of us are content with the little: getting up on time, catching the bus. Our lives are a pile of acts, benign and banal, unique in a way but undistinguished.
Then there are the few who somehow move boulders. Looking at the boulder-movers , we who can't are left to wonder how they can. History is full of them: Madame Curie, Columbus, Hannibal, Alexander, Balzac, Shakespeare, Ben Gurion, Washington and the others, the nameless bush-league heroes, people like Nudelman. Their secret is that they don't see how impossible their goals are. They too just get up in the morning and put on their shoes, just like Nudelman. By the way, his first name was Nachman, but nobody ever called him thatnobody could pronounce it.
He didn't look much like a truck dealer the day I went up to his home office, over his two- car garage. No shoes on and a hole in his sock. His blue wool sweater was faded and the rumpled moss green corduroy pants bagged at the knees. As usual that thicket of ungovernable black hair was in need of pruning. Maybe that's why people trust Nudelman; he doesn't look like a sharpy and he's not.
The room, his study, was as rumpled as he was, piled with discarded or half-read Wall Street Journals and Popular Mechanics open to articles he wanted to get back to someday. Even with the window open there was a smell of pipe smoke and dog. Mandalay, an old Labrador retriever, grey at the muzzle and milky in the eye, lay at his feet on a faded hand-hooked circular rug. In front of him, Nudelman, not the dog, was a mosaic, with little notes on scraps of paper of different sizes and colors covering him.
"Mendel. Glad you could come." He had a sharp voice, urgent, like every sports announcer

I've ever heard. He thrust his long-fingered hand toward me and asked, "Rosenzweig gave you the agreement?"
"Yes, I have it here, but don't ask me what it says. It's all commas and no periods." "Better you don't know, and then nobody will blame you if we blow it."
"What's it all about?"
"Just a formality. A long-winded resolution, from the trustees of the old folks’ home, to the effect that funds can be spent for education, recreation, and therapy for the residents at the discretion of the Board."
"So that's all it takes, Nudelman? I've got to hand it to you, you're a magician."
Nudelman raised his hand and let it fall, dismissing the accomplishment. "All I did, Mendel, was show them how to turn on the lamp."
"I have to say, though, I've been wondering what Mr. Mossberg would have said." Mossberg had set up the trust in the late twenties.
"We'll discuss it with the lawyer."
"There may be relatives who would just as soon have the money. I've heard of such things." "They're long gone, as far as I know; don't worry about it. We've got a million things to do:
recruit teachers, find a director, advertise in the Jewish papers for students, buy sporting equipment, books, desks. It’s endless. I'm glad you're experienced, what with the synagogue school." As he spoke he was rearranging the little notes.
"Have you talked to the old folks about it?"
"You should do that, Mendel. You've got a way with them."
I knew he would say that. It all eventually comes to me as the amanuensis of the synagogue and factotum of the Board, not that they don't do their share. But I get paid for what I do. No matter. I like the old folks and thought, as Nudelman did, that the idea of a school in their midst would be as energizing as a brothel at a miner's campthough not in that way exactly, don't get me wrong.

Nudelman leaned back in his chair and gave me that loose grin that hadn't changed much since the first time I saw him that day at Bolton High. I still remember the words, "C'mon, I'll show you around." He mushed his words, still does, and I didn't know what "c'mon" meant but I soon got used to his speech. It's American, I later decided, informal and direct. What's a consonant among friends after all? He was the first one of my classmates at Bolton High to reach out to me after the War Refugee people dropped me in Bolton straight from the D.P. camp.
That night in my book-lined apartment at the Center I worked late, drafting a well-reasoned persuasive explanation of the advantages of the boarding school. But as it turned out I wouldn't use it. So much for battle plans.


The Talk of Elders

There we were, the five old folks and me, seated at the heavy black oak dining table in the cavernous dining hall with its peaked roof supported by massive cross beams. Through the tall gothic windows on both sides of the hall I could see bibulous white clouds and the tops of old chestnut trees swaying in the autumn wind like praying Jews. It was cold in the vast rooma cold that had been stored for yearsand we seemed so fragile and insignificant, as if the room had been designed for Goliath.
Remnants of a gentler naive time, the old folks sat in a line, expectant, their faces shrunken, wrinkled, distended, beautiful, faintly lit with the satisfaction that they had been recognized. Most of the time they were overlooked like a picture in a dark corner that has hung quietly for forty years.
Their functions in Bolton had either been taken on by others or were no longer needed. Among them was the owner of what we used to call a hamburger joint; an antiques dealer (there was no branch of the Salvation Army in Bolton); a door-to-door household goods salesman (“Dollar down a dollar a week!”); a mother of two sons, both killed in World War II; and a high school teacher.
Selma Novik, the matriarch, was frail, almost transparent, as if her body would one day disintegrate, leaving only her soul. Her blue, deep-set eyes were those of a child peeking out of the Halloween mask of an old wrinkled lady. Next to her was Izzy Bortzowl-like behind his post- cataract magnifying glass lenses, a deck of cards on the table in front of him.
Gene Karp was eyeing me from under his still-black, barbed wire-like eyebrows, with his characteristic suspicion. Then there was Susana Leventhal, the first woman high school teacher in the county. Her age was either 101 or 98 depending on whom you talked toshe was no longer sure. Miss Leventhal, as she was still called, was sitting erect as she always had in class; she was a

stickler for good posture. Steel grey hair, what there was of it, was neatly knotted on top of her head. Her clackers, too perfect to be real, just showed through the opening of her tight lipless mouth. Her eyes looking alternately vacant and alert suggested that her mind was living in two places at once.
Maimonides Kravitz looked sanguine and self-possessed, with a much-thumbed copy of the Atlantic Monthly and an anthology of poetry by Milosz open in front of him. His many-colored keepah, a mystical vision of paradise, sat perched on his shiny, bald head. He acknowledged me with  curious and warm look.
I sat down, feeling at ease and glad to be among them. Except for a cousin in Israel I had no family so the old folks were as close as I could come to knowing their generation. Aside from that, they were as comforting as an old quilt on a winter night. Being with them is a glimpse of what’s ahead for all of us.
There was a pot of tea on the table, brown stoneware with a top that didn't fit. Chipped but indestructible china mugs, and a pile of Russian tea biscuits filled with cherry jelly and walnuts baked by Selma Novik completed the service. Remarkably self-sufficient, the seniors shared much of the daily chores other than the housecleaning. As Maimonides liked to say, "We don't want to put people out."
The old folks lived almost in a state of grace. No one had died among them in the last ten years. True, there had been a little corrective surgery now and then but what old garment doesn't need a patch or two. Dr. Zucker was out there three times a week, and they consumed so many pills that the Purity Drug Store might have closed down without them.
"So, Mendel, what brings you out here on such a blustery day?" Selma asked, as if I had come by foot on a long journey rather than five minutes out of town in a car. Implicit in her question was the premise that few people came to visit.
"I longed for a good conversation," I said.
"A good conversation is like sweet butter," said Kravitz.

"Schnapps is better," said Bortz, riffling his cards.
Kravitz gave me a look that said, don't mind him. "When I was your age, Mendel, we used to talk till dawn over tea." He was the only one who hadn't been born in Bolton, having come from Brest-Litovsk in 1919, and he still spoke with a little Slavic twist of the tongue.
"Now there's the all night TV movies if you can't sleep." said Karp. "Trash!" said Kravitz, not unkindly.
"Your garbage is my gold, rejoined Bortz, his laser lenses pointed at his adversary. "Never argue with a fool!" said Kravitz and he shook his head with a bemused smile.
"They go on that way sometimes, Mendel,” Selma said. "It happens when you live day after day with somebody. Habits get on your nerves. It takes tolerance, which we have of course."
"How are you getting along?" I asked, still unwilling to put the subject on the table. Kravitz shrugged. "Every day is a blessing!"
"A gift," said Miss Leventhal. "When you get to a certain age, every day is a gift." Her head shook a little, as did her voice when she spoke. She flicked a few crumbs of the tea cake off of her brown shawl.
I remembered how old she had seemed that first frightening year at Bolton High and how nervous I had been the day she asked me to recite some Wordsworth. Not that I didn't know it, but I was afraid the others would snicker at my Polish accent. To put me at my ease she had announced to the class that I could speak five languages, all of them fluently, and that Josef Conrad, a Pole, had written all of his novels in English. Nobody laughed.
"Do you get bored out here?" I asked, leading toward the topic of my visit.
"Never! There's always something to do," said Selma, and in turn they catalogued their interests and activities. Selma watched birds, kept a record of each siting, cooked, baked, and sewed. Kravitz read and wrote. Currently he was grinding away at a monograph on Duns Scotus and Herman Hesse. Miss Leventhal played the piano when she had the energy. Izzy Bortz and Gene

Karp played cards, watched television, and kept the place from falling apart; both were handy with tools.
"Would you believe it, Mendel?" said Selma, gesturing toward Bortz. "He has rewired the fuse box, himself?"
"I almost electrocuted myself, but I did it," said Bortz shaking his hand. "Isn't this place just too big for you?" I asked.
"No, we love the space. Each of us can be alone when we want to," said Miss Leventhal. Her voice had grown younger with age and was childlike but the articulation was precise as ever.
None of my reasons for ultimately suggesting that they share the building with a school was reaching them. "Do you miss having children about?" I threw out hopefully.
"I had enough of children," said Karp, swinging his hand with contempt, "with all that noise, and always spilling things."
"Don't mind him," said Selma. "Everybody loves having children around, even Gene Karp." "God communicates through the faces of children," said Maimonides Kravitz.
"Then I have good news. You'll be having children all around you soon. The Board has decided to create a Jewish boarding school." I tried to make it sound auspicious and looked at each of their faces.
It took a few seconds for the message to register and each took it differently. Miss Leventhal began to glow. Izzy Bortz contracted an advanced stage of gangrene. The rest seemed as though they were about to try a new cake recipe.
"Where?" said Izzy. "Here."
"Where do we go?" Izzy sounded hurt and he began to automatically wipe the table in front of him with his crumpled napkin.
"You stay here. Of course you may have to move to another room, since well be putting up

some walls to separate the dormitory from your quarters."
"Move from my room? But I like my room," said Izzy Bortz, drawing in his drooping lower


"It will be just as big, with the same view of the grounds."

"But it won't be my room. And what about the noise and the tumult?" said Karp.
Selma and Maimonides seemed to be getting used to the idea, glancing at each other with questions in their eyes. Afraid to say any more, I zipped my lip. What if they raised a fuss, wrote to the Grey Panthers, or even worse, the newspaper. I picked up the rest of my tea cake and bit into it. The room was so quiet, my chewing resounded in my head like a meat grinder. Maimonides raised his eyebrows and took a deep, wheezy breath before he reached for another tea cake.
"I think it's just a wonderful idea, Mendel," Selma finally said. "After all, this place is empty. It should be put to use. And it would give us something more to do than watch the paint peel off of the walls."
"I agree," said Kravitz, and his Adams apple bounced as he swallowed. "It's positively exciting!" said Miss Leventhal.
My heart began to beat in my ears with relief.
"Yes, you'll even help with the classes if you like," I said. "They will be like grandchildren to you and the teachers will provide adult learning, learning for the elderly, all sorts of courses. It will be stimulating, a new lease on life."
"My old lease hasn't expired yet," said Bortz. "It sounds like heaven." Selma.
"I'll teach poetry," said Miss Leventhal and the look she gave me was full of a common recollection of my days in her class.
"And I will teach the Baal Shem Tov," Maimonides said. "Izzy Bortz will teach poker," said Karp, pointing at the cards.

And Bortz answered, "Karp will teach them how to cheat." "Will we eat together as well?"
"Yes, if you like, but we plan to set up a separate sitting room for you and the faculty, just to have quiet. And there will be a table in there and comfortable chairs."
"Yes, that's good. I like that. What about the bathrooms?" Selma asked. "You won't have to share."
"Good. That's important." Selma nodded and poured some more tea. "So you agree?"
"And if we didn't, what then?" Izzy Bortz was smiling now, a dill pickle smile, but a smile all the same.
"Even so, the Board wants to know."
"Well, tell the Board, we'll make the best of it." Izzy Bortz folded his hands over his flabby stomach.
"More than that, Mendel. I'm looking forward to it," said Selma.
"I hope there won't be a lot of carpenters around. I can't stand hammering and those electric saws. Its like they are sawing inside your head."
"Mendel, before you go, let me give you two of my tea cakes. I know how much you like them. Do you think the children will as well?"

"Selma," I said. "I'm sure the tea cakes will make you the most popular person at the school."

My Interview with Sheldon:

Sheldon Hi, Welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
Your new novel was fantastic, tell my readers about it please.
Waiting for the Messiah is a modern- day passion set in a small town Western Pennsylvania Jewish community. It is a sequel to a critically acclaimed novel, with universal values, Lost and Found, published by Random House.
 Waiting for the Messiah returns to Bolton PA the scene of Lost and Found. The Bolton Jewish Community converts a disused old people’s home into a boarding school and hires a Russian refugee to run it and the retirees to staff it. The old residents love the change, but things get dicey when the director takes steps which challenge the culture and expectations of the community. The family that endowed the place 50 years ago sues to get their trust fund back. A teen age hacker manages to find alternative funding by manipulating resident’s pension accounts.  An enemy on the faculty tries to get the director deported.  When the director dies some people think that he was Jesus. Seeking a beneficiary for his life insurance policy they discover an enigma. Waiting for the Messiah is full of warmth, humor and the celebration of the extraordinary in the ordinary which should appeal to the faithful of all religions and iconoclasts alike.

Here are the first few lines:
“Nudelman started it.
          "I want Isaac to have a real education," he said, looking around at the Synagogue Board with his wise hound's eyes.
          Those were the words that began it all. Just eight words, a few sounds tossed into the air of the Board-room. But words have power. They can make people kill, make them fall in love, even buy appliances they don't need.”

This is a sequel to Lost and Found
Should they be read in order?
 Not necessarily. In fact it’s a trilogy.  All three are narrated by Mendel Traig and have his humor and acute powers of observation in common.  Each novel stands on its own feet. Messiah is the third. The second, is The Seed Apple, previously published. Mendel travels to the California desert and encounters the Binyans, Jewish Indians who claim to be descended from King Solomon’s sailors. Is the fantastic tale (a book within a book) of the family’s ancient journey from the disintegrating Mayan culture of the Yucatan to this northern “promised land” true or a myth?

Mendel also meets and falls for Sara Cavanaugh, the engineer responsible for a controversial tower under construction on a sacred site. If completed, the tower will communicate globally with the American nuclear submarine fleet. The Binyan patriarch and his brilliant son are in a generational conflict over the tower and the son’s future. The Seed Apple is s
piced with magical realism and mysticism. It’s  mysterious, funny, and moving.

I personally am a huge fan of alternate history, retellings and imaginings but I have to admit I’ve never read one based on religion specifically the second coming of Christ in a Jewish community and always thought from the perspective of a Christian upbringing speaking to Jewish friends about the subject that Christ is considered as a teacher in their faith but not the Messiah.
Can you enlighten us a little without giving away the plot?
The novel does track the Passion, in modern dress. (In another novel, Prodigal Sons, I loosely followed the story of the Wagnerian Opera, Gotterdammerung.) But the readers can come to their own conclusion on the question of whether Lev is Jesus, or the long promised Jewish Messiah, or simply a decent human being, living his life according to his values. The impact of a person on others, is what matters. 

Your writing range is certainly wide from historical to futuristic dystopian and from contemporary imagining to thrillers.
Wow what determines what your next book will be about, is it personal experience, news articles or something totally different.
Good question. All of my novels, grow from the kernel of an idea. The Seed Apple, for example grew out of a trip to Yucatan, seeing the bas relief, the Cross Temple, at Palenque, the Mayan archeological site. If Christian missionaries antedated Columbus, why not King Solomon’s sailors?  Another one, Burnt Umber, began with seeing a small sculpture in a restaurant.  It ended up spanning the Twentieth Century, Two Wars, and dealt with male narcissism and creativity and the empowerment of women.

I read your very inspirational and unburdening for me blog post “Does GodExist” and near the end this passage really spoke to me I just wish the world could see God through your eyes.
“- the idea that each religion is the only truth to the exclusion of all the others and the notion that each religion’s god has a monopoly on truth, continues to be a source of pandemic ignorance, hatred, and violence. It does no good to suggest that the world would be a better place without it. It is more constructive and positive to think about ways of fixing it. Perhaps the simplest way to do this is to give god a new set of attributes, clothes that fit what we know of life in the Twenty First Century…”
What inspired you to write this blog post?
I’m so happy that you read it and took something away. In fact the process that resulted in the essay was a personal journey, an effort to sort out the life process. As you saw, I felt that religion was a useful societal institution, but the anthropomorphic god of western religion was an anachronism. So rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater, why not construct a new god-concept, one that was consistent with what we know about the Universe. So I started to read various subjects, quantum physics, cell biology, evolution, ,  theology, a survey of comparative religions, mysticism, to mention a few of the subjects. And God Said What? was the result.

According to your bio your personal experiences are as extensive as your writing.
Is there something you haven’t yet done that’s on your bucket list?
On the literary side, I’ve got two more novels and a volume of short stories to publish. Other than that, keep doing what I do with my life as long as I am able; enjoy travel, family and friends, culture, political engagement, wind energy, immersion in new ideas, yoga, gardening, experiencing the awe and wonder of life every day.

Sheldon now that I’ve found you I will definitely be reading you again. Good luck with your new book and I look forward to showcasing your works in the future too.
Thanks. Your interest in my work is very meaningful to me.

Books 1&2 in the Trilogy

About the author:
I have worked simultaneously as a lawyer, an executive, and a novelist with an early stint as a bureaucrat.
My diverse career began with my appointment as Warden of Insurance of the State of Ohio at age 23. In that position I initiated possibly the first challenge to America’s inefficient health care delivery system and its cost implications.
As General Counsel to California Rural Legal Assistance I filed a suit which blocked Governor Reagan’s evisceration of health assistance for the working poor, and that same year brought a suit against the U. S. Department of Labor which terminated the federal government’s program to bring temporary farm workers from Mexico.
I drafted and got bi- partisan support for the passage of the first law penalizing the knowing hiring of illegal entrants. I was a member of the founding board of the New Israel Fund and helped to shape its unique structure.
An investment in a wind turbine turned into a 25 year ongoing alternative career as an executive in a wind energy development company and a role in the largest wind energy project in the history of the industry. I have published five novels with excellent critical reviews as well as articles dealing with public policy.
I value loyalty, continuity in relationships and the benefit of accommodating to other people’s needs. I’ve been an unorthodox lawyer and business executive, willing to absorb professional risk for a client, surgical in problem solving, and reasonable in my fees. I’m always open to new ideas and activities.
I play singles tennis, sail, garden, do yoga, sing in the Oakland Symphony Chorus, and serve on the boards of the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University, School of Engineering and the Berkeley Art Center.

My Review: 

Waiting for the Messiah
American Quartet #3
Sheldon Greene

Like all of Sheldon Greene’s books in his American Quartet trilogy, Waiting For The Messiah is narrated by protagonist Mendel Traig and is full of warmth, humor and some serious social issues. Mendel is an unassuming character, soft-spoken, vulnerable yet sagely. Mendel is the star of the show along side the long lanky Russian school director who marches to his own drum and stirs up trouble and passions wherever he goes. The pace is steady the secondary characters are fabulous especially the school kids and their senior center counterparts. The main message in this morality tale is hope, passion for doing the right thing even if it goes against convention and compassion for your fellow man. Anyone from any or no religious beliefs can and will enjoy this sentimental book. The books stand well alone but like all connected tales should be read in order.

Enjoy a favorite quote from director Lev Kyol “a child is not a fender and a school is not a body shop”.
In book three of Sheldon Greene’s American Quartet trilogy, Waiting For The Messiah, a board member of a Synagogue in Bolton PA wanting his son to have a sound Jewish education convinces the other members into repurposing the unused space in their senior home into a school. With the school year fast approaching there’s still no one yet banging down the door to apply for the director’s job. Then a perfect applicant falls into their lap or is he. When the new director, a Refusenik from Russia, Lev Kyol starts implementing some rather radical practices it raises quite a few eyebrows and tempers plus leaves the board reeling and wondering what to do.