Gonzo Judaism: A Fresh Path for an Ancient Faith

Niles Goldstein, Author . St. Martin's $22.95 (171p) ISBN 978-0-312-35227-1

Though born out of the "world of gonzo," rife with indignation, agitation, cynicism and a "biting urge to revolt ," this book delivers such a soulful commentary that it could just as easily be called "Judaism Unplugged." Like musicians who return to the roots of their profession and play without electronica, Rabbi Goldstein, founding rabbi of the New Shul in Manhattan, reminds readers—whether they are new seekers or lapsed practitioners of Judaism—to confirm their knowledge of the "nuts and bolts" of their tradition before wistfully seeking the mystical. "Judaism, when presented in its best and most authentic light, doesn't coddle—it confronts," he says. Similarly, the rabbi pulls no punches, but manages to do so with the easy style of a coffeehouse conversation. Using a combination of Jewish history and personal anecdotes, he offers a wide range of alternative ways to explore Judaism individually or in small groups, if large congregations are not appealing. The extensive resource list that includes congregations, organizations and recommended reading promises to serve readers of all ages. With this edgy, funny, wise book, Goldstein may just have found a way to ensure the survival of the religion for another 6,000 years. (Sept.)

[See the July 12 issue of Religion BookLine for an interview with Rabbi Goldstein.]

Reviewed on: 07/10/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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