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Potok, Chaim

jewish rabbi traditional novel

(US, 1929– )

Chaim Potok was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, in a traditional Orthodox Jewish family. He was ordained as a rabbi in 1954, then turned to writing fiction. His first novel, The Chosen (1967), tells the story of the friendship between two boys, Reuven Malter, son of a Jewish scholar, and Danny Saunders, son of a Chassidic rabbi, revered as the divinely inspired leader of his community. As well as giving a fascinating insight into the lives and customs of American Orthodox Jews in the 1940s, the novel offers a tender, sensitive examination of the relationships between fathers and sons. Potok has an abiding interest in the influence of the twentieth century on traditional Judaism, and this theme is continued in The Promise, a sequel to The Chosen (1970), and In the Beginning (1975), about another young Jewish boy, David Lurie, a gifted yeshiva student whose passion for truth awakens controversy.

Amos Oz, David Grossman, Saul Bellow  SA

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