Faculty Member Ringel Publishes Two New Novels


James Bonnell, Centurion Staff

Faculty member Harry Ringel is promoting his two most recently published novels, “The Phantom of Skid Row” and “Shemhazai’s Game.” Both books are available through Amazon, Kindle, and Barnes and Noble.

His latest novel, “The Phantom of Skid Row” tells the story of a young man named Tito Scaffone living in 1965 Philadelphia. Tito is fascinated with classic horror movies like “The Phantom of the Opera”. His best friend Jan Klosek’s uncle happens to run a distribution center for low-grade quality films. Through Jan’s uncle, Tito is given a chance to run an all-night theater that plays just the films he likes. Soon, Tito finds that living alone in a theater full of budget horror films might be too much to handle. It doesn’t help that the theater also happens to be haunted.

Harry Ringel moved to Philadelphia in the late 1960s and was immediately drawn its old theaters. It was during this time that he developed his appreciation for the low budget, usually horror films, that would play in these old theaters. “I once drove 100 miles through a blizzard from Philadelphia to New York to see a horror film by Tod Browning,” Ringel shares.

While living and going to school in Philadelphia, Harry was more than happy to be able to access this world of film as well. “I’d finish my homework, and at 1a.m. I wouldn’t do it now, but I’d hop on the subway and head down to the Palace, or the Family, or the News, or the Center.” Ultimately, the influences for “The Phantom of Skid Row” can be summed up into three parts. “Number one was the old films, old quality films, mostly horror. Number two, the old theaters, with their personalities,” Ringel explains, “And number three, there was a poetry about the old Philadelphia that I plugged into heavily, and still am plugged into though there’s not much of it left.”

His previous book, “Shemhazai’s Game” is the story of a middle- aged brother Jacob and sister Debbie, who “…don’t get along at all.” Jacob is mentally handicapped, and Debbie has been taking care of him for a long time. Shemhazai, the fallen angel, enters their lives and forces the siblings into a video game. Throughout the game, they come face to face with a variety of mystical beings, such as Lilith and Azazel, and their relationship is further put to the test.

Harry’s purpose with this novel was heavily influenced by his Jewish faith and his interest in learning about the stories involved. His parents were part of a reformed Judaism community in Atlanta. At that time, Atlanta wasn’t predominantly Jewish, and Harry found a lot of his childhood focused on, “…reaching out across the cultural and religious divide”. It was when he moved north that he began researching and practicing more traditional values within the religion.

“I started to keep kosher,” he explained. As he studied and read more about the faith, he became interested in the world of Jewish Mysticism, often referred to as Kabbalah. “Kabbalah is just full of these elements that brought to me a sense of wonder and wanting to explore more the mystery of what it was all about.” “Shemhazai’s Game” is Harry’s ode to the stories of Jewish Mysticism, presented in a form that appeals to those who are even the slightest bit interested. As Harry says, “It is a user- friendly approach to Jewish Mysticism.”