Author Sheyna Galyan

Rabbi David Cohen Series

The Rabbi David Cohen suspense series

Destined to Choose Strength to Stand Cover


The fictional Beth Israel is the former location of the real Adath Jeshurun synagogue (currently in Minnetonka). Now the building houses a Unitarian Universalist church. (Click photo to enlarge.)



About the series

Rabbi David Cohen has been the spiritual leader of Beth Israel synagogue in Minneapolis for eight relatively uneventful years, marked by births and deaths, weddings and b’nai mitzvah, until a phone call awakens both his dreams and his nightmares. David begins an uneasy collaboration with Arik Zahav, an Israeli-born Minneapolis cop, and the husband of his colleague, Rabbi Batya Zahav. The son of a Holocaust survivor, David is challenged to find balance between work and home, congregation and family, a dilemma that becomes increasingly difficult as he spends more time chasing teenage runaways, dangerous stalkers, and potential murderers. Before he became a rabbi, David was a dissertation away from earning his doctorate in psychology, and he always figured he’d teach psych at a university somewhere. He drew more and more from Judaism for his psychology studies, and on the recommendation of his advisor, looked into the rabbinate. But maybe he wasn’t meant to be a rabbi either, because no matter how much shalom he pursues, he keeps finding himself yarmulke-deep in evil.

Strength to Stand CoverStrength to Stand (#2)
Yotzeret Publishing, September 2015

When Rabbi Batya Zahav first suspects she’s the victim of an anti-Jewish stalker, she enlists the help of her colleague, Rabbi David Cohen. Soon her husband Arik, an Israeli-born Minneapolis cop, is also on the case. As the stalker’s anonymous persecution increases in violent intensity, it falls to David to identify the stalker before someone gets hurt, and before the stalker carries out the latest chilling threat.

  Read more about Strength to Stand, including excerpts, reviews, discussion questions, and buying options

DestinedToChooseDestined to Choose (#1)
Yotzeret Publishing, October 2013

When a college freshman’s philosophy paper on the Holocaust jeopardizes her relationship with her grandfather, she finds herself alone and afraid on the streets of Minneapolis. Help comes in the form of Rabbi David Cohen, who is struggling with his own personal demons. Trained in both psychology and Talmudic argument, David must help this family face the real issue that divides them. Set against the backdrop of a Jewish holiday of mourning, they bring together their experiences as they confront evil itself and answer a cry for help that no one expected.

  Read more about Destined to Choose, including excerpts, reviews, discussion questions, and buying options

What readers are saying:

About Strength to Stand: 

“A smart mystery full of Jewish learning and lore.”

Rabbi David Wolpe, Max Webb Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and best-selling author of Making Loss Matter

“At times playful and at times unsettling, Sheyna Galyan’s Strength to Stand blends insightful humor, riveting suspense and an obvious love for Judaism. A charming, chilling book that places Rabbi David Cohen alongside Harry Kemelman’s David Small and Faye Kellerman’s Peter Decker in the pantheon of observant Jewish crime-stoppers. One of the most engaging books of the year.”

Jacob M. Appel, award-winning author of Phoning Home, The Biology of Luck, and the Rabbi Kappelmacher mystery series.

Galyan’s latest is rich in culture, suspense, and character. The dialogue snaps, and the action builds. If you’re looking for a rich mystery, you can’t miss with Strength to Stand!

Jessica Lourey, author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries

Sheyna Galyan’s new mystery, Strength to Stand, is part one-breath-at-a-time suspense, part fascinating depiction of what goes on in a rabbi’s life—both professionally and personally—and part exposé on human motivation. Rich and atmospheric, Galyan seamlessly weaves crime, life, and love in this unforgettable novel.”

Jessie Chandler, award-winning author of the Shay O’Hanlon Caper Series

Sheyna Galyan has authored a poignant and enlightened story that explores the complexities of the Jewish culture and draws its readers into the lives of families struggling with their respective roles within that community—all the while dealing with an ominous stalker who is promising to deliver death and destruction to their world.”

Allen Eskens, award-winning author of The Life We Bury

Sheyna Galyan’s Strength to Stand is a suspenseful story of contemporary Jewish families. Its themes of belonging and community raise important issues, yet are thoughtfully interwoven into a very dynamic narrative. Galyan has written a compelling must-read, whether you are Jewish or not.”

Susan Koefod, award-winning author of the Arvo Thorson mystery series

Escalating threats make this a creepy cozy in Minnesota’s Jewish community.”

Julie Kramer, award-winning author of Shunning SarahKilling Kate, and Delivering Death


About Destined to Choose

“…brilliantly written. Author Sheyna Galyan has done an amazing job of integrating everyday Jewish life with a great meaty story. The depth of this novel is exceptional; the education in Jewish life and customs, mixed with fabulous, multi-layered character development, make this an important novel for readers of all faiths.”

—Ellen Stanclift, MA Theology

“This book is engaging and accessible for readers without extensive knowledge of Judaism. The author develops the characters in a manner that makes you feel as if they are friends or members of your community. I really resonated with Rabbi David Cohen’s struggle for balance between his work and his family. The author did a great job of weaving multiple story lines into the plot to keep the reader engaged.”

—Debbie Ackerman, on reading Destined to Choose for her book club

“Ms. Galyan gives her readers plenty of food for thought in the course of the book. The story and and the thoughtful way in which the author and her characters wrestle with some serious issues make Destined to Choose a worthwhile and enjoyable read.”

—L. S. Jaszczak, book reviewer