This exploration of the emotional and spiritual aspects of spending a year in mourning will resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one—from the author of The Search for God at Harvard.
"His candid, searching book ... breaks our heart." —The New York Times Book Review
Ari Goldman describes how his year in mourning for his father affected him as a son, husband, father, and member of his community. Through the daily recitation of kaddish, Goldman discovered that he could connect with and honor his father and his mother in a way that he could not always do during their lifetimes. And in his daily synagogue attendance, he found his fellow worshipers to be an unexpected source of strength, wisdom, and comfort.
Goldman (The Search for God at Harvard; Being Jewish), a former New York Times reporter who is now an assistant dean at the Columbia University School of Journalism, offers a clearly written autobiographical memoir that appears at first glance to be simple and straightforward. In fact, it is a profound and sophisticated examination of human relationships, particularly between a son and his parents. A modern Orthodox Jew, Goldman writes about observing the ritual requirements following the death of his father, as he had done four years earlier for his mother. Among these rituals is the obligation to "say kaddish" each day for 11 months. This Aramaic poem, which praises God, is recited in daily prayer services in the synagogue with 10 men present. In the memoir, Goldman describes the people he met and the experiences he had as he fulfilled this commitment. More importantly, he uses this as an opportunity to explore his relationships with his parents, who divorced when Goldman was six. Finding himself an orphan at age 50, Goldman forthrightly shares his ruminations about the meaning of this status, and sensitively scrutinizes the implications of such insights for his relationships with his wife, children, brothers and friends. What comes across with crystal clarity is the remarkable personal growth Goldman achieved during this period. His narrative has an inspirational quality for everyone confronting the inevitable loss of parents.
Living a year of Kaddish
This is a wonderful, very readable memoir. I read it while I was saying kaddish for my father. It made me think about the different experiences I was having and the different communities I was entering every day as I tried to fulfill this obligation that I knew my dad would appreciate.