Blog posts about the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries and their author Rabbi Ilene Schneider

Archive for January, 2017


I am not a politician. I am not a scientist. I am not a botanist nor a biologist nor an ornithologist. I am not an expert in history, neither natural nor human. I am not an ecologist nor a professional conservationist.  I drive a hybrid, but I also travel by air. I try not to use chemical fertilizers or pesticides or weed killers in my garden, but I also have no intention of pulling out poison ivy by hand. I compost and recycle, but I use my garbage disposal. In other words, I am a regular citizen, with all the contradictions that entails.

When I first moved to South Jersey in 1981, I had never heard of the Pine Barrens. I knew nothing about Elizabeth White and her cultivation of the first commercially viable blueberries. I had never heard tales of the Jersey Devil. I had never visited Atsion Lake or Batsto or driven on a sugar sand road or seen the Caranza Memorial or climbed the fire tower on top Apple Pie Hill. Wharton to me was the name of a graduate school of business in West Philadelphia.

I then read John McPhee’s The  Pine Barrens and so began my fascination with this incredible treasure in our backyards.

I am not naïve enough to think the Pine Barrens we know and enjoy are the same ones that existed when the Leni Lenape were the only human inhabitants of the area. Forests were clear cut to provide timber to fire the forges that produced cannon balls for Washington’s army and decorative fireplace surrounds for the industrialists who owned those forges. Rivers were dammed to create the lakes that provided the water power for mills. Cranberry bogs were dug and houses were built – small cabins for the workers in company towns and huge mansions for their bosses.

But in November, 1978, the US Congress through the National Parks and Recreation Act, created the Pinelands National Reserve.  Only three months later, in February, 1979, the Pinelands Commission was established, followed in June by Governor Brendan Byrne’s signing of the Pinelands Protection Act. By January, 1981, both Governor Byrne and the US Secretary of the Interior approved the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. In 1988, the United Nations formally recognized the uniqueness of the Pine Barrens by designating the area a Biosphere Reserve.

Because of the vision and the political will of Governor Byrne and others like him, we are able to enjoy the natural beauty of the Pine Barrens. If not for those actions almost forty years ago, we would now be sitting in the midst of a sprawling urban enclave, complete with a supersonic airport, shopping malls, a city, and miles of concrete and asphalt.

We cannot undo the mistakes of the past centuries – the destruction of the original old-growth forests, the damming of the rivers, the creation of factories and farms – whether they were done through ignorance or greed or even the need to survive. But you, as the officially appointed stewards of the Pinelands National Reserve, can prevent the repeat of these errors. You have within your power the ability to prevent the degradation of the land and the dismantling of the intentions of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan by voting NO to the installment of a natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands. Please vote your conscience, not expediency.


In case you’re not sure about buying/reading YOM KILLER, here are the preview blurbs printed in the front of the book (the bold faced excerpts are on the back cover):

Loved it!

If you’ve ever wondered where Rabbi Aviva Cohen got her nose for mystery (and trouble!), you’ll find out in “Yom Killer”! Aviva teams up with estranged sister, Jean Meisner, and not-so-estranged ex-husband, Steve Goldfarb, to discover the truth behind the “accidental” injury that sent her 96-year-old mother to the hospital and the sudden increase in deaths in her retirement facility. A witty, engaging mystery and fun read!”

 – Amy M. Bennett, author of the award-winning Black Horse Campground mysteries 


Anyone who has dealt with the health care needs of the elderly will identify with Rabbi Aviva Cohen as she fights for her mother’s welfare. Only her mother’s problems are tougher than those faced by most elderly – like the murder of her friends, her attempted murder, fraud, and robbery.

This is the best in this series. As usual, Rabbi Aviva Cohen is feisty, honest, and funny. The author’s experience ministering to the elderly is apparent. This cozy rings true.

 – J. L. Greger, author of the award-winning Science Traveler medical mystery thrillers


If I’m ever in trouble, forget the marines.  Send in the rabbi!  In Yom Killer you’ll have a great time watching Rabbi Aviva Cohen shedding light on the shadiest hospital in New England. This is Schneider’s best yet.

– Robert Lopresti, award-winning author of Greenfellas


Yom Killer is a heartwarming tale of murder and Medicare fraud.

– Jeff Markowitz, author of the Casey O’Malley mysteries and of Death and White Diamonds


When I finished the last of the twelve Rabbi David Small mysteries (That Day The Rabbi Left Town ), I experienced the sense of loss anyone who enjoys series feels when there is not a next one. Now, twenty years later, I have discovered the Rabbi Aviva Cohen series. The David Small character was rabbi for an orthodox congregation. Aviva Cohen’s congregation is not orthodox, and no one would describe her as orthodox, religiously or otherwise. She [Rabbi Aviva Cohen] is brash, funny, nosy, and blunt. In a word, meshuganah. But she is every bit as captivating and the mysteries every bit as much fun as Kemelman’s work, the first of which won an Edgar. Maybe Rabbi Ilene Schneider will win one as well. From my lips to G*d’s ear, I can hear her saying.

– Mike Orenduff, author of the award-winning Pot Thief Murder Mysteries


A heroine who loves Mel Brooks, Milky Ways and matzoh balls – what’s not to love? Rabbi Aviva Cohen is back in action trading quips with her quirky relatives and besting bad guys when a series of mysterious deaths at a senior facility strikes perilously close to home. Great fun – and as the saying goes “you don’t have to be Jewish…”

– Rosemary Harris, author of the Anthony and Agatha-nominated Pushing Up Daisies and The Bitches of Brooklyn