Nachum and Avraham were detectives living and working in and around Tel Aviv, Israel. Sheldon Horowitz lived his adult life in New York City until his granddaughter, Rhea, and her husband, Lars, persuaded him to move to Norway.
Somewhat to my surprise it was Horowitz, the non-Israeli, whose Jewish faith and heritage played a significant role in the book.
He has been driven to fight for justice since he learned of the Holocaust. Too young to fight the Nazis he fought in the Korean War.
Horowitz knows the Bible, Old and New Testaments. He invokes Saul, the persecutor of early Christians who converted and became St. Paul. He reflects on God’s actions and powers in the Old Testament. His God is real and part of his life.
For Nachum and especially Avraham there is no role in the book for their Jewish life. Being Jewish does not guide or overtly influence their lives.
Both Nachum and Avrahm appear to be secular, non-religious Jews, as I do not recall any parts of the book showing either is religious.
To the contrary Avraham, on Shabbat, goes to the office when he does not need to be there. It is a very quiet day with few other officers present and even fewer calls.
One of the few signs of Jewish life for Nachum and Avraham is that their day of rest is Saturday rather than Sunday.
Every author must decide which aspects of personality to focus on in their books. Shoham and Mishani concentrated on Nachm and Avraham being solid hard working police officers. I do not think you would have known they were Jewish but for their names and being Israeli. The importance of being Jewish made Horowitz a far more interesting character to me than either Nachum or Avraham.
Every action taken by Horowitz is affected by being Jewish. He cannot abandon the child whose mother is murdered in his aparement. From his tangled mind he calls the child Paul in memory of his son, Saul, and the Christian St. Paul.
Being Jewish compounds Horowitz’s isolation in Norwegian by Night. With but 1,300 Jewish people in Norway he is a member of one of the country’s smallest minorities. Yet Horowitz will not forget that Norway allowed the Nazis to take 772 Jews to concentration camps with but 34 surviving the war.
Horowitz may have lost faith in God but he is still fiercely Jewish.