Study Guide

This Is Where I Leave You Religion

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Although he Foxman family just might be the least religious people ever to sit shiva, religion plays a big part in the events of This Is Where I Leave You. Maybe it's because Mort Foxman, the recently deceased patriarch, requested that the family perform the traditional Jewish mourning ritual of "shiva" in his honor. Maybe it's because the family experiences a surprising amount of relief while at Temple. Or maybe it's simply because Jewish cultural tradition plays a big part in their personal lives. No matter which way you slice it—and please, leave us a piece with jalapeños—the novel takes a hard look at the value that religious tradition can hold even for non-believers.

Questions About Religion

  1. Why do the non-religious Foxmans have a deep emotional experience at temple?
  2. In your opinion, what inspired Boner to give up Led Zeppelin and drugs to become a rabbi? Does the text provide any evidence?
  3. What was Mort's relationship with Judaism? How might that have affected his relationship with his kids?
  4. Why does Phillip think it "would be nice to believe in God"?

Chew on This

Despite his avowed atheism, Mort Foxman has a lot more affection for Jewish religious tradition than he'd like to let on.

This Is Where I Leave You argues that the feeling of togetherness instilled by religion is just as important—if not more so—than its mystical or faith-based aspects.

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