Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE SEARCH FOR GOD AT HARVARD by Ari L. Goldman

THE SEARCH FOR GOD AT HARVARD

By Ari L. Goldman

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-8129-1653-0
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

 A New York Times religion reporter patches together his autobiography and an account of his sabbatical year at Harvard Divinity School. Goldman grew up at Orthodox Jew, attending yeshiva and steering clear of secular culture. In consequence, his burning desire was never to reclaim his roots, but rather to grasp the nature of the non-Jewish world. This he did in 1985 by attending Harvard Divinity School. By far the better half of this two- tiered work is Goldman's account of his fascinating Orthodox background and his gradual immersion in secular culture, culminating in a stint at Columbia Journalism School and a reporter's job at the Times. Newshounds will relish snapshots of the inner sanctum of America's premier newspaper: avuncular Abe Rosenthal wheeling-dealing, Sydney (The Killing Fields) Schanberg pressuring his troops. The report on Harvard fizzles in contrast. Goldman sounds like a wide-eyed freshman, awestruck at the ``sheer joy'' of living in fabled Cambridge. What's worse, the Divinity School seems to be a mess, its faculty decimated by retirements and defections, its students obsessed with ``religious relativism rather than religious truth.'' Goldman's analysis of the crisis skims the surface, and reads like an extended letter home. More like The Search for a Good Class at Harvard. An expanded autobiography would have been the way to go.