What does one do when the death of a parent demands reentry into an abandoned religious formalism? Raised in an orthodox Jewish home, schooled in the intricate discourse of rabbinic texts and yet long estranged from the ritualism of Jewish law, the prospect is maddening. Filial love compels a yearlong daily synagogue attendance where one recites a mourning prayer laden with myth and superstition. Kaddish is an exquisitely maneuvered headlong plunge into Judaism's expansive intellectual tradition. Thereby the current literary editor of the New Republic fulfils his duty both as a Jew and a son, while never turning his back on another imperative he so cherishes "the moral obligation to be intelligent."