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Book details
  • SubGenre:Personal Memoirs
  • Language:English
  • Pages:344
  • Format:Paperback
  • eBook ISBN:9781543931563
  • Paperback ISBN:9781543931556

My Pashtun Rabbi

A Jew's Search for Truth, Meaning, And Hope in the Muslim World

by David Eden


Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2018

Here’s what Buzz Bissinger, author of “Friday Night Lights,” said:

“David Eden’s ‘My Pashtun Rabbi’ is funny and fatalistic, sad and sorrowful and ultimately soaring. He shows with wry tenderness that it is possible for humankind in the unlikeliest of places to bridge the chasm of religion and ethnicity and culture that so destructively divides us. It is compulsively readable, a beautiful book and love story that will make you laugh and weep with hope.”

"My Pashtun Rabbi" was awarded a coveted STAR review by KIRKUS and has been selected as one of the Indie Best Books of the Month for October 2018 by KIRKUS REVIEWS. Only four to six books each month are selected as Indie Best Books out of 10,000 books reviewed a year. As you are aware, The KIRKUS STAR is one of the most prestigious designations in the book industry.

 Here’s what Kirkus said about "My Pashtun Rabbi":

 “A Jewish American working in the United Arab Emirates fears hostility but finds humanity in this debut memoir.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 “An entertaining fish-out-of-water (and gasping-in-the-desert) saga, with an inspiring message of inclusion and understanding.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

And here's a little about the heart of this story:

Sometimes a chance encounter can change your life forever. Rarely is it with someone so different and from such a dissimilar world. Even scarcer still is when it touches your heart and soul, and becomes weaved into your life's fabric.

But that's what happened when an expat Pashtun taxi driver from North Waziristan picked up an expat American Jewish journalist the evening before his first class. Could it be insha'Allah, "God's will," that brought these two disparate souls together? Or was it beshert, "Destined to be?" And if that was the case, "Who" destined it? "

My Pashtun Rabbi" chronicles David Eden's time as the "journalism expert" at UAE University during the 2008-2009 school year as the world's economy collapsed and war erupted in the Middle East. What's more, David's Jewish identity was unknown to his students, faculty, and nearly everybody. What would happen when they found out? How would the fact he was Jewish effect his relationships with his students and friends as the truth is revealed? That's the heart of "My Pashtun Rabbi" as David Eden takes you inside his classes, introduces his students, befriends a prominent Emirati family, and goes on adventures, including a camel ranch, the world's richest horse race, a labor camp and a journey into the heart of Yemen. He went to "see for himself" to better understand the relationship between Jews and Muslims and make up his own mind. And he did.


On the cusp of Ramadan, as the hot August sun was beginning its evening descent ushering in the Holy Month, David Eden, the newly hired "journalist expert" at United Arab Emirates University, stood on the side of the deserted road in downtown Al Ain dripping sweat and hopelessly trying to hail a taxi.

As he cursed his circumstance and was about to give up, a battered Corolla pulled to the curb. Could it be insha'Allah, "God's will," that brought him the taxi? Or was it beshert, "Destined to be?" And if that was the case, "Who" destined it?

A narrative of identity, religion, brotherhood, renewal, and trust, David Eden's "My Pashtun Rabbi" is an eye-opening tale of his life-changing experience as an American Jew hired to be the "journalism expert" at United Arab Emirates University during the beginning of a worldwide financial collapse and another war in Gaza.

In the days leading up to the 2008 collapse of the world's financial markets, David has just arrived in the UAE to begin his new job at the national university based in Al Ain, an ancient inland desert city situated on an archipelago of millennial-old oases in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi on the rugged border with Oman.

David was surprised he was hired and wonders what will happen when his Jewish identity becomes known to his students, faculty, friends, and nearly everybody? What would happen when they found out? How would the fact he was Jewish effect his relationships with his students and friends as the truth is revealed?

That's the heart of My Pashtun Rabbi, the story about David Eden, a middle-aged American Jew, and journalist by training, who embarks on a journey of faith and redemption that lands him in Al Ain, an ancient inland oasis city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. David's life takes a major turn when that taxi driver, Noor, sees the potential in his passenger that germinates and blooms into a golden bond of friendship.

Noor's family lives in the tribal territories of Pakistan, and he rarely has the opportunity to visit his parents, wife and five children. There is something special and different about Noor, and David begins to think of him as his very own Pashtun rabbi.

David's journey also takes him inside the world of a prominent Emirati family connected to the nation's royal founding patriarch, and into the classroom where he "pushes the limits" on "allowed topics," and encounters a firebrand female Palestinian student who longs to return to Gaza, who doesn't know David is Jewish until the end of the semester, as a new war with Hamas breaks out in Israel.

By telling a story about and through the people David holds dear in the UAE, he is able to weave in political, social, religious and cultural issues. These real-world issues linger persistently in the background of the story and directly contribute to a singular tension -- ''What is a Jew doing living and teaching in the UAE?"

"My Pashtun Rabbi" is a timely, in-depth look at a little-known corner of the oil-rich Arab Muslim world through a totally different lens, more human than political – and more about the potential of tomorrow, rather than the turmoil of today. If people can somehow get beyond labels of religion and nationality, and get to know each other as human beings first, maybe we can help transform the world and help rid it of so much strife and discord?

About the author

David Eden, a veteran journalist, was an Emmy Award-winning Managing Editor and Executive Producer at Cleveland's CBS TV station and the former Editor-in-Chief of the Cleveland Free Times. He has worked as a top-level editor, columnist, and critic for the Dallas Times Herald, Detroit News, The Minneapolis Star, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Albuquerque Journal. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Hill, Jerusalem Post, and The Times of Israel, among others. He was the Chief Administrative Officer of Hillel International and has taught journalism at John Carroll University and United Arab Emirates University. Eden is a graduate of Miami University and earned his M.A. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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