God at the Edge: Searching for the Divine in Uncomfortable and Unexpected Places

Niles Elliot Goldstein, Author Harmony $22 (224p) ISBN 978-0-609-60499-1
Part travelogue, part autobiography, part religious history and part biblical commentary, this confused and confusing memoir describes a young rabbi's quest for authenticity. Now the rabbi of the New Shul, an unconventional, experimental congregation in Greenwich Village that appeals to intellectuals who have felt alienated by organized religion, Goldstein is also a police chaplain and the spiritual leader of a ""cybersynagogue."" In his latter capacity, he maintains a Web site where he responds to ""Ask the Rabbi"" questions. His work with the Drug Enforcement Administration has led to his appointment as the national Jewish chaplain for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. With endless digressions, Goldstein tries to explain how he reached his present positions by the tender age of 33. He begins with the dramatic story of his arrest for drunken behavior in a nightclub and proceeds to describe his journeys to faraway places, starting with a trip to Nepal that he made with his father before entering rabbinical studies in Israel. Other trips have taken him to Boston, Alaska, New Hampshire, Michigan, Africa and Central Asia. Each visit stimulates an excursion into religious history, both Jewish and Christian. Goldstein demonstrates great erudition, but his readers will be inevitably befuddled by his rapid shifts in place and time. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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