Page 66 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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54
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
the son that the latter’s offer of marriage to a gentile girl stems not
from love but from a highly developed sense o f honor.
The book is presented as a realization of the son’s agenda to
compose a
Kaddish
for his father. Goodkind’s
life
constitutes
another sort of text, especially in his own handling of his daugh­
ter Sandra. Often, the proof of Jewish continuity lies not in
whether Jews remain Jewish but in whether their children choose
to do so.
Sandra had been a difficult child, like her father. She will
re turn to the Jewish fold and serve a role in the chain of Jewish
continuity because of
her
father’s positive influence. As a child,
she had refused to go to Hebrew school, ate on Yom Kippur, and
had bypassed all the rules of Judaism. Her parents’ authenticity
has played a large role in her “re tu rn .” “Thanks, old father,” she
writes in a letter from Israel, “for the Jewish awareness you
drummed into me. You gave me the best thing you had” (p. 447).
Sandra’s return is also made possible with the help of the State of
Israel, which provides an amenable locus for living the authentic
Jewish life that is not available in America. In this sense
Inside,
Outside
is not only a
Kaddish
for an irretrievable past. It is also
another piece of liturgy, a
sheheheyanu
for the existence of the
State of Israel, a blessing of thanksgiving recited by an insider
who is grateful for having lived long enough to be both a witness
to and a participant in macrocosmic events.
In
Inside, Outside,
Herman Wouk has given readers a truthful
account of the Jewish experience in America. By seasoning his
account with a strong dose of Jewish awareness, he has given his
readers a full-blown example of the liturgical novel called for by
Cynthia Ozick. It is not obvious that Wouk’s novel is exactly what
Ozick had in mind. It is clear, however, that by drumm ing Jewish
awareness into his readers, he has given us the best thing he has.