WAKE UP, WAKE UP, TO DO THE WORK OF THE CREATOR by William B. Helmreich

WAKE UP, WAKE UP, TO DO THE WORK OF THE CREATOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fond recollections of an Orthodox Jewish boyhood. Helmreich, now teaching Sociology and Judaic Studies at City College, grew up the son of devout immigrant parents of modes means in the New York of the Fifties. His upbeat recounting of the sights and sounds, comings and goings of his formative years effectively renders the concrete Sabbath-to-Sabbath, Feast-to-feast reality of a way of life permeated with religious meanings. ""Our religion was life itself,"" he says, and his detailed accounts of all its elements--the prayers, the chants, the Sabbath observances, the holy days, the studying--make it come alive in a way that prompts understanding and admiration. But the book tells a story too: it follows his development from a pious and precocious student at his father's knee to his total absorption in religious observance and study at a prestigious upstate Yeshiva (where the title, in Yiddish, served as reveille). It closes with his difficult break at fifteen with this minor seminary lifestyle when his sense of alienation from secular culture intensified and he chose to return to the liberal Orthodoxy of his father. Though Helmreich's enthusiasm for his past gushes at times (""How I loved,"" etc.), his book readily enables outsiders to appreciate the Jewise genius for making the living of life and the worship of God one thing. Real-life Potok, but with less intensity and anguish.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row