This month, our Mortality Club discusses Leon Wieseltier’s National Jewish Book Award–winning autobiography, Kaddish, which documents the spiritual journal of a diligent but doubting son who, commanded by Jewish law to recite a prayer three times daily for a year in honor of his deceased father, decides he needs to know more about the prayer issuing from his lips. Here is one man’s urgent exploration of Jewish liturgy and law, from the 10th-century legend of a wayward ghost to the speculations of medieval scholars on the grief of God to the perplexities of a modern rabbi in the Kovno ghetto. Here too is a mourner’s unmannered response to the questions of fate, freedom, and faith stirred in death’s wake.
Our Mortality Book Club reads and discusses books having to do with the important--but frequently avoided---issues we confront at the end of our lives. Regular book club members include hospital and hospice workers, but also the adult children of aging parents, or just anyone who wonders about the many questions--medical, emotional, social, and philosophical--raised by human mortality. The book club facilitator is Jasmin Tomlins, herself in training as a death doula.