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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  88 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Leon Wieseltier's Kaddish is a completely new kind of book. It is not quite philosophy, autobiography, history, or Midrash, but it blends all of these genres into a narrative of Wieseltier's grief during the year following his father's death. Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, is a mostly unobservant Jew whose grief compelled him to observe his religion's...more
Paperback, 499 pages
Published September 13th 2000 by Calmann-Lévy (first published September 14th 1998)
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Leon Wieseltier is the Literary Editor of The New Republic, a magazine I have subscribed to for the past 4 years. His all-too-rare columns are marvelously written and give a profound mixture of love of Judaism and humanity. His story is one of a smart yound, orthodox philosophy student who strayed away from his severe religiosity to become one of our formost cutural critics.

You can take the boy out of Yeshiva, but you can't take the Yeshiva out of the boy. When Wieseltier's father died in 1996,...more
This was a wonderful book that goes in depth on the rabbinic commentary and exegesis of the mourner's prayer, the Kaddish. Much Talmudic speculation. At times the obsessive nit-picking of seemingly irrelevant and unimportant points of the law got a little tedious, but overall, this was a strong introduction to Talmudic midrash wrapped up in a secular Jew's ponderously intellectual year of mourning.
I love this book. It's a dense and incredibly powerful story of one man's struggle to deal with his father's death and to honor his father by following a ritual that is powerful in it's practice. His exploration of the kaddish ritual provides him a venue to understand the power of the ritual throughout Jewish history and in his own life.
I wanted to like this book more. And it's not for the author's integrity, but it was truly complicated and extremely dense. I picked it up shortly after my own dad died, seeing it at Ollson's just as it came out. Perhaps another try is warranted and perhaps, too, I am in a different state of mind now for appreciating it theme.
Fantastic, nourishing scholarship. Moments of humor. A study of mourning in practice, also a study of living, carrying on. Study as a method of living. Wish I had read this book years ago.
Oct 17, 2008 Bev rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: agnostics
This is a good, honest book about faith. I haven't read many things I could describe that way. Don't read it if you are in mourning but do read it if you have god on your mind.
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Leon Wieseltier is a American writer, critic, and magazine editor. Since 1983 he has been the literary editor of The New Republic.

Wieseltier was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended the Yeshivah of Flatbush, Columbia University, Oxford University, and Harvard University, and was a member of Harvard's Society of Fellows from 1979-1982.

Wieseltier has published several fictional and non-fictional...more
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