common to pampered celebrities, yetrnthere is no denying the astounding trackrnrecord of carcfidly planned, arranged,rnand recorded mnsic, now stretching backrn50 ears to his first recording of a tunerncalled “Confessin’ Blues” for the tinyrnDown Beat label in Los Angeles late inrn1948.rn”I neer wanted to be famous, but I alwavsrnwanted to be great,” Charles hasrnstated in the past. Yet he has achievedrnboth, and, as Lvdon makes clear, “hisrnplace in music history is assured: RayrnCharles stands beside Louis Armstrong,rnDuke Ellington, and a handfid of othersrnamong tlie presiding geniuses of twentieth-rncentup, popular music.”rnTo/71′ Outhwaite is a literary agent inrnNew York Cit^rnMan in Searchrnof Godrnby Jacob NeusnerrnThe Lord Will Gather Me In:rnMv Journey to Jewish Orthodoxyrnhy David KlingbofferrnNew York: The Free Press;rn262 pp.. $24.99rnAcompelling personal narrative aboutrnhis inner life sen’cs as the occasionrnfor David Klingboffer to engage in a dialoguernwitii Judaism. His story, weavingrntlie personal with the public, carries himrnfrom adoption b a Reform Jewish couplernin California to deep reflection onrnthe meaning of “being Jewish” and therninterplay of family and faith. What hernhas discovered in his journey—from secnlarit)-rnto Reform, thence Conservative,rnand finally a humanistic Orthodow — isrnthat Judaism is not a matter of blood andrnkinship but of faitii and love of God. Andrnhe spells out preciselv what that faith andrnlove comprise.rnThis is not an autobiograph)- in an’rnnarrow sense; Klingboffer only uses himselfrnas the occasion to tell the stor’ ofrnfaith. He states the outcome in thesernwords:rnIt took a trip to Sweden [where hernfovmd his biological mother’s familyrnhad no links to Judaism] to makernme realize . . . the error at the heartrnof the tribal conception of Jewishness,rnan error I had shared in. It isrnthe belief that blood will persexerernin the absence of belief . . . I becamerna Jew for one reason: becausernI reached the conclusion that Judaismrnis true. . . .rn. . . I sa’ that Mt. Sinai is inrnStockholm. For me, it is at an’rnrate. Torah has a ver- good reasonrnfor keeping quiet about w here thernevent of Sinai took place: becausernit happened, and happens, ever’-rnwhere. . . . for all Jewish souls whornhave lived after the Exodus, Sinai isrnnot a place, it is an experience.rnOur Mt. Sinai is whcreer we liappenrnto be when we reali/.e aboutrnTorah what our earliest spiritualrnancestors realized on tiie da’ thatrnGod’s voice whispered to themrnamid smoke and fire: tiiat Torah isrnentireK Truth, that it came fromrnGod, diat it is His Presence in ourrnlives.rnI do not think any finer statement of therncondition of Judaism has been expressedrnin Judaic religious writing in AmericanrnEnglish.rnRejecting (for reasons elaborately setrnforth) Reform and Conservative Judaism,rnKlingboffer, in liis choice of OrthodoxrnJudaism as the authentic embodiment ofrnthe Torah, should not be classified as justrnanother modish reversioner. He is muchrntoo critical to trade tiie Refonii Judaismrnin which he was raised, and which hernfoimd formal and social, for an Orthodoxyrnof ec[ual formality—but about differentrnthings and equivalent tribalism.rnIndeed, some of the best writing in thernbook convevs his criticjue of the OrthodoxrnJudaism he finds as inauthentic asrnthe Reform that he left. And the carefullyrnnegotiated position —a brilliant critiquernof telephone-book Judaism, of doingrnthings bv the book without regard tornissues of context and meaning —that hernassumes in regard to the Halakhic disciplinernof Judaism will not persuade arnconsiderable sector of Orthodox Judaismrntoday of its authentic Orthodoxy.rnKlinghoffer’s extensive exposition of thernthought of.Abraham Joshua Heschel’srngreatest work, God in Search of Man, situatesrnhim squarely at the center of tiiernobservant Judaic consensus toda’.rnArgmnents in American Judaism inrnbehalf of religious belief and practicernthrough personal narrative find theirrnmodel in Herman Wouk’s This Is MyrnGod, certainly the literary masterpiece ofrnJudaic apologetics in the American language.rnIn the recent past, two significantrnworks lune continued this sturdy tradition:rnLeon Wieseltier’s Kaddish, aboutrnthe year he spent in mourning for his fatherrn—a work of learning transmuted intornreligious understanding and convictionrn—and now Klinghoffer’s book. Therntwo bear comparison: Wieseltier is thernmore learned and illuminating; Klingboffer,rnthe more painfully self-revealingrnand therefore humanly the more compelling.rnBoth show how the powerful intelleehialrngifts of ordinary- Jews, not rabbisrnor professors of Jewish studies, take up thernserice of the Judaic religious challengernof the hour. These books are classics ofrnJudaic religious expression, testimoniesrnto die vitality and power of the Torah,rnoral and written, to sanctify the life ofrnhoi)’ Israel. With figures such as these engagedrnby its challenge to intellect andrnsensibility, Judaism in America enjoys anrnintellectual renaissance with no parallelrnin modern times.rnFor tiie sake of full disclosure, my ownrnprejudices require exposure. First,rnKlingboffer was m student at Brow n, butrnat a point at which what I had to offer andrnwhat he sought to discover scarcely intersected;rnsecond, in 1954-55, as Heschel’srnstudent assistant, I typed God in Search ofrnMan, and have always regarded that servicernto him as the high point of my educationrnat the Jewish Theological Seniinar’rnof America.rn]acoh Neusner is Distinguished ResearchrnProfessor of Religious Studies at thernVniversity of South Florida and arnprofessor of religion at Bard College.rnEn Garde!rnby J.O. TaternThe Fencing Masterrnhy Arturo Pere.z-ReverternNew York: Harcourt Brace;rn244 pp., $24.00rnThere are many good writers activernthese days, certainly more thanrnenough to keep ou busy —if you canrnSEPTEMBER 1999/31rnrnrn