Publisher’s Weekly Review



The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel: The Rise of a Village Theocracy and the Battle to Defend the Separation of Church and State

Louis Grumet, Author, John M. Caher, Author, Judith S Kaye, Foreword by

Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, a 1994 Supreme Court case concerning a New York public school district created to accommodate the religious preferences of a faction of Hasidic Jews, gets a behind-the-scenes look in this blend of history and memoir. Grumet’s personal involvement with the case, as its main litigant, is both a blessing and a curse for this work. He provides curious readers with endless details about how he persuaded his fellow state school board members to sue, how he selected and worked with the primary lawyer, and what he discussed with New York politicians—including then-governer Mario Cuomo—concerning the laws and the legal battle. But his writing relies heavily on his own personal sympathies, fluctuating between thinly veiled dislike and near-sycophantic admiration for key players. The book’s narrative struggles to hold up under the weight of Grumet’s details and gossipy tone, and despite its important topic, it will likely only satisfy readers with an existing strong interest in the case. (Apr.)

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