After One-Hundred-and-Twenty, by Hillel Halkin

July 4, 2016

Part history and part memoir, this volume gently immerses readers in Jewish traditions surrounding death. Hillel Halkin, an American-born Israeli scholar and novelist, poignantly explores his own experiences while providing a history of Jewish thought. He describes how perspectives change from biblical to Talmudic to medieval to contemporary times, examining the concepts of judgment, reward, repair (tikkun), resurrection, prayers, and community. Connecting the kaddish prayer to the book of Job, he writes, “God is the Grandeur, and the Wonder, and the Terror, and say: amen.” But in facing this terror, we have each other. While Halkin desired only solitude during the shivah rituals following his mother’s death, he concedes that Judaism “saw no value in aloneness. A wise religion.”