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Potok Chaim (2017 Most Popular Book Lists)

 
$55.95
1. Wanderings: Chaim Potok's History
$5.81
2. The Chosen (Ballantine Reader's
$6.24
3. The Gift of Asher Lev
$5.96
4. Old Men at Midnight (Ballantine
$4.98
5. The Gates of November
$8.17
6. The Promise
$7.99
7. Zebra and Other Stories
$7.90
8. My Name Is Asher Lev
$3.65
9. Davita's Harp
$13.94
10. Conversations with Chaim Potok
$7.98
11. The Chosen: And Related Readings
$8.55
12. In the Beginning
$5.73
13. The Chosen, with Connections
14. Davita's Harp: A Novel
$3.45
15. I Am the Clay
16. The Book of Lights
$99.00
17. THE CHOSEN
18. THE CHOSEN
 
19. The Chosen; a Novel
 
20. My Name Is Asher Lev

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1. Wanderings: Chaim Potok's History of the Jews
by Chaim Potok
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1992)
-- used & new: US$55.95
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: B000MRQ80W
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wanderings:Chaim Potok's History of the Jews
The description of the books condition was very accurate.There were no surprises.The shipping was quick and hassle free.What more could you ask for.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wanderings
This was a used small paperback version. If you have never read this, I would suggest paying for a full-sized hard cover edition complete with all the original artwork. And, if you haven't read this you must. This is one of those wonderful once in a lifetime books that makes you see the world in an entirely new light. Like the Ascent of Man, and others.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and engaging, even page-turning, overview of the history of the Jews and Judaism
"Each time the light returns and we are able to see the new world that has been created on the ruins of the old, we discover familiar elements of the overthrown civilization in the creativity of the new" (p. 379). Although specifically referring in this passage to those Germanic tribes who conquered and assimilated the Roman empire, this comment is a succinct encapsulation of Potok's larger narrative about the Jewish people. *Wanderings* demonstrates that the history of the Jews and of Judaism is a palimpsest in which the central theme of covenant relationship with God has been regularly reinvented, overthrown as it were and creatively reconstructed, so that it may maintain its relevance in a changing world.

For those of us whose knowledge of the Jewish people and the religion of Judaism effectively begins with "Genesis" and ends with "Malachi," this book is indispensable. It seems equally indispensable for those raised within contemporary Jewry who wrestle, like Jacob, to reconcile the idea ofa God who operates in history through his chosen people with a reality that is multi-faith and often seemingly without purpose. It does not hurt that Potok, an acclaimed novelist as well as an ordained rabbi, infuses his historical narrative with a pace and lyrical grace more in keeping with an epic novel than a work of nonfiction.

Potok's narrative begins, in a manner similar to contemporary accounts, with those first great Mesopotamian civilizations, Sumer and Akkad. Against this background of cuneiform and clay, Bronze Age technology, extraordinary civilizational creativity, and the constant threats of catastrophic flood and drought, wanders Abraham of Ur, first of the Hebrew patriarchs. Even in the earliest recorded tales of this wanderer and his descendants, we are told, "the basic themes of the Hebrew Bible-covenant, liberation, redemption; the search for insight into a world assumed to be meaningful-remain essentially the same..." (P. 40) . The wandering tribes descended from Abraham-called Hapirus-mingled with their new Canaanite (aka Phoenician) neighbors; slowly made their way into the Black Land of the Nile to escape famine; were enslaved by the native Egyptians when their Semitic relatives, the Hyksos, were driven from the pharaoh's throne; were liberated when one of their own, a man named Moses, received a call from their God; returned to the land of Canaan, their "Promised Land," with the goal of conquest; established a kingdom under Saul, and then the shepherd boy David; built a magnificent temple under the reign of David's son Solomon; watched all these accomplishments fade under one weak and corrupt king after another; and finally found themselves taken captive by the Babylonians. In short, we follow the rise and fall of the first great Jewish civilization, all while keeping in sight the religious thread that connects these victories and calamities. "The Israelites saw each of these crucial encounters between God and man through the filtering vision of covenant relationships" (p. 141). While all of these stories are familiar to those who have read the Old Testament, Potok ingeniously retells them with a novelist's sensibility and a scholar's insight, making the oftentimes two-dimensional characters of scripture come to life and resonate with the contemporary reader.

The Babylonian captivity was not the end of the Jewish people or their religion, although that is all too often assumed by those whose only knowledge of the Jews and Judaism comes from the Christian Bible. Instead, those who were allowed to return to their homeland after almost a century in captivity began the slow transition to the second great Jewish civilization, that of Rabbinic Judaism. Potok discusses the influences of Greek philosophy and Roman political domination on Jewish thought and practice; the origins of the conservative Sadducees and liberal Pharisees; the destruction of the Temple and, later, of Jerusalem by the Romans; the expulsion of the Jews from Judea;the creation of the Talmud in Palestine and Babylon; the high Sephardic civilization of Al-Andalus in Muslim Spain; the difficulties and discrimination faced by Jews on the margins of Christendom; and the ultimate unraveling of the 1,500-year old rabbinical civilization with the coming of the Enlightenment. All along the journey, Potok discusses the regular reinvention of what it means to be one of God's chosen people: from the early days of the doctrine of dual Torah and the Pharisaic emphasis on ethics; to the Kabbalistic notion that keeping God's commandments is a way of restoring the cosmos to its original sacred integrity; to Isaac Luria's conception of God sharing Israel's exile in the process of creation; to the joyous celebration of life itself expounded by the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov; to the Enlightenment's questioning of the very need for a sense of Jewish identity.

In short, *Wanderings*, in brilliant and engaging, even page-turning, prose, reveals Judaism to be a dynamic and fluid faith whose drive to find meaning in the world and willingness to change even that which seems most essential has allowed it to survive, and even to thrive, on the margins of civilizations whose views of the Jewish people have vacillated between begrudging respect to genocidal hatred. This book (I almost wrote "novel") is a remarkable achievement.

4-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive historic account
In this work, Potok outlines the narrative of Jewish history against the canvas of world history. The Jewish people have influenced and been influenced by the world in equal measure.
Book One outlines the struggle of the Hebrew Nation, against the backdrop of ancient paganism. He discusses the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia, before introducing Abraham, the patriarch of the Hebrew Nation, who migrated from Ur in southern Mesopotamia, to Canaan, as recorded in the Biblical narrative.
Each chapter explains the history of the dominant civilization of the time, in which the struggles and contributions of the Nation of Israel took place, before describing the role played by the Jews and their specific history. There are chapters on the struggles of the Jews under the Mesopotamian , Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman and Islamic Empires, and the long exile of a large portion of the Jewish people in Christian Europe.
There is other ancient documentation, as sources for the ancient history of Israel, describing how the word 'Hapiru' was first used in Egyptian records during the reign of Amenhotep II, who ruled Egypt from about 1440 to 1415 BCE.
Much of this epic account deals with the unique contribution of the Jewish people to world civilization. Hence we discover that the Biblical recognition of a slave as an individual with rights, though he still lacks the status of a free man, has no parallel in the laws of Mesopotamia or any other ancient civilization, and was indeed a Judaic initiative.
Egyptian accounts record the presence of the Israelites in Canaan, around the year 1220 BCE.
The town of Shechem (now called Nablus by the Arabs) is nowhere claimed to have been conquered by the Israelites under Joshuah, and was most likely a Hebrew enclave all through the centuries of the enslavement in Egypt.

One's attitude to the Jews and Israel isa very good litmus test for the character of people, entities and nations.
In some instances, their general actions have preceded their actions against the Jews, and in other instances what has begun with the Jews has not ended with them.
A foretaste of the cultural genoicide of the Moslem Arabs, against the cultures of lands they invaded, was the burning of the ancient libararies of Alexandria, Egypt by Arab Moslem invaders in 647 CE, described by the author.
The Land of Israel retained a Jewish majority long after the destruction of the Second Temple, by the Romans in 70 CE, and probabely until the Arab invasion of the Land of Israel in 634 CE. Like all the lands that came under the Arab Moslem domination, attempts were made by the Arab Moslem invaders to eradicate all presence of the indigenous cultures.
Hence on the site of the Temple Mount of Jerusalem, the holiest site in Judaism, the Moslems erected the Dome of the Golden Rock, in 691 CE.
The author explains the roots of Christian and Islamic anti-semitism, and the massacres that took place against Jews, during the crusades, across Europe through the ages,the horrific genocide of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, by the marauding Cossacks of Bogdan Chmielnicki, in 1648 and the Kishinev massacre of Jews in 1905.
The Chmielnicki massacre is recounted by a letter written during that period about the capture of some Jewish towns by the Cossacks: "They slaughtered eight hundred noblemen, together with their wives and children as well as seven hundred Jews, also with their wives and children. Some were cut into pieces, others were ordered to dig graves into which Jewish women and children were thrown and buried alive. Jews were given rifles and ordered to kill each other."
The author also discusses the numerous repeated blood libels and accusation of host desecration:"Mystery plays depicted the Jews as Christ killers, demonic allies of Satan, and blood-sucking moneylenders".-libels being repeated under new guises in the early 21st century, in the climate of the new anti-semitism-vicious anti-Israel hate and hysteria.

The book details the life of Jews in exile in mediaeval Spain, Italy, Germany and Eastern Europe. We learn about great Jewish thinkers and writers like Judah HaLevi, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Ben of Tudela, and the great religious influences of such luminaries as the Baal Shem Tov the Vilna Gaon, and Moses Mendehlson.
The final chapter deals with the blight of Secularism on the Jewish people. The author aptly describes secular humanism (or modern paganism) as thus:"
It is probabely the most creative, the most liberated, the wealthiest, most dehumanizing and most murdeous civilization in the history of our species. Among those who suffered the most from it's excesses is the Jew. Ironically Jews helped to mould this civilization"
Most secular humanists today display the most breathtaking hypocrisy on issues such as human rights, especially under it's offshoot-the cult of political correctness.
Under the enlightenment a new form of anti-semitism came into being, shaped by the likes of Voltaire and Karl Marx-the mother of the new anti-semitism of today, prevalent at university campuses , media houses and leftist NGOs.
Finally the author writes about the founders of modern Zionismthe return of Jews to the Land of Israel, and the struggle for the rebirth of a Jewish State.
It is inpiring to read of Herzl's journey to the Land of Israel in 1898: "Beneath the hot Medittaranean sun he was greeted by Jews who established the new settlements in the land. He saw tanned Jewish children, and men at ease on galloping horses. He saw groves of trees and new houses and grass on sand dunes..."
Potok deals too briefly with the subjects of the Holocaust and the rebirth of the Jewish Nation, with the refoundation of the State of Israel.
But he succeeds in putting across how Israel is a warmth for Jews, everywhere , how we fear for her, tremble when her people are hurt and support her.
The world lost a third of it's Jewish population during the Holocaust, and now almost half of world Jewry live in Israel (including hundreds of thousands of the descendants of holocaust survivors). The survival of Israel is the survival of the Jewish people.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I really enjoyed this book. Chaim really hits the nail right on the head. So elloquent and educated, a great story teller. ... Read more


2. The Chosen (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: 304 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$5.81
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0449911543
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
The story of the friendship that develops between two Jewish boys in New York City.Amazon.com Review
Few stories offer more warmth, wisdom, or generosity than thistale of two boys, their fathers, their friendship, and the chaotictimes in which they live. Though on the surface it explores religiousfaith--the intellectually committed as well as the passionatelyobservant--the struggles addressed in The Chosen are familiarto families of all faiths and in all nations.

In 1940s Brooklyn, New York, an accident throws Reuven Malther andDanny Saunders together. Despite their differences (Reuven is aModern Orthodox Jew with an intellectual, Zionist father; Danny is thebrilliant son and rightful heir to a Hasidic rebbe), the young menform a deep, if unlikely, friendship. Together they negotiateadolescence, family conflicts, the crisis of faith engendered whenHolocaust stories begin to emerge in the U.S., loss, love, and thejourney to adulthood. The intellectual and spiritual clashes betweenfathers, between each son and his own father, and between the twoyoung men, provide a unique backdrop for this exploration of fathers,sons, faith, loyalty, and, ultimately, the power of love. (This is nota conventional children's book, although it will move any wise childage 12 or older, and often appears on summer reading lists for highschool students.) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (329)

5-0 out of 5 stars Friendship
In Chaim Potok's, The Chosen friendship begins in an odd way.Danny Saunders, an Hasidic Jew, and Rueven Malter, an Orthodox Jew are playing baseball for their schools.Filled with hatred for the Orthodox team, Danny throws a baseball into Rueven's face sending him to the hospital.Shocked at the hatred that lives within himself, Danny visits Rueven in the hospital.They become friends.

Raised in entirely different Jewish sects, community within the sect is sacred, contact with those outside of the sect is discouraged.Danny and Rueven's friendship is rare and dear.

Potok delves deep into the Hasidic and Orthodox culture and religion making it not just a great story of friendship but an intriguing way to learn of the tradition, customs and culture of these two Jewish sects.

1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Nothing in this book made sense. The friendship between the boys is a good prompt for a story, but the events leading up to it are clumsy. Danny Saunders has absolutely no reason to befriend Reuben Malter; when they first meet, he calls him an "apikoret" (heretic), then feels bad when he hits him in the eye with a baseball. What exactly is Danny's reason for wanting Reuben as a friend? Does he need an outsider to talk to? Is he looking to learn about the outside world?

This business of "raised in silence" is absolutely alien to me or any psychologist, Jewish or otherwise, that I've inquired. A central part of the book is that Danny Saunders is "raised in silence" with his father never speaking to him. I've known psychologists who found disorders and habits unique to Hassidic Jews in Eastern Europe, but none of them ever encoutered this problem. Chaim Potok simply crafted a load of hokey to give the book a bit more jive.

If you're a gentile and you want to learn about how Ashkenazi Jews think, don't read this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Timeline Error in "The Chosen"
It's kind of late tonight, but I just had to get this off my chest, after reading "The Chosen" again this evening.



But there appears to be a rather sizable error in Chapter 7. Ironic, as most of the chapter deals with Talmudic study and Reb Saunders quizzing Danny and Reuven about particular items in his sermon. But I think the Chaim Potok may have inserted an error in the plot in this chapter, which is interesting as this chapter deals with errors; and I don't seem to find record of this anywhere!



Chapter 7 takes place on Shabbat and the completion of Shabbat. Meaning, when Reuven finally comes home late around 10:30pm ON SATURDAY NIGHT, upsetting his father somewhat... they go over the details of the day... and at the end of the conversation Reuven's father tells him they must get to bed, as tomorrow is a school day. Reuven attends secular school on Sundays?? Odd. And that's how Chapter 8 begins, back in school the next morning!



Have I mis-read this? Or did Chaim Potok purposefully place a timeline error in the plot? And is it possible I am the first one to notice this!?



Thanks,



Rick Singer

5-0 out of 5 stars A story of two fathers, and two sons
This short novel is a story of two fathers and two sons; one son, Reuven, is a fairly conservative Jew, perhaps even Orthodox, but with a modern outlook.His father is a noted academic, Talmud critical scholar, and Zionist.The other young man, Danny, is the son of a Hassidic rebbe, who is the leader of a tightly-knit, isolated Russian immigrant community who came to United States fleeing antisemitic persecution.

Written clearly and straightforwardly, Reuven, narrating in first person, tells us about his experiences and interactions with Danny and how each other's father had a decisive influence over each child, even though the fathers themselves never personally met each other.

Potok captures the differences between the conservatives and the ultra-Orthodox without going into technical dissertations.Instead, Potok presents us with what each branch of Judaism does instead of jumping into long dogmatic compare-and-contrast narratives.

The result is enchanting.I only notionally knew about the different schools of Jewish thought and practice but in Potok's portrayal, the reader can see readily the differences and that these differences are anything but nuanced.

I find Potok's more effective than many primers in Judaism that I've read: Potok told me what each group thought of each other against the momentous event that lead to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.Conventional wisdom would lead one to believe that all Jews wanted their own state in Palestine, yet one is surprised to learn that this wasn't the case.Many among the Ultra-Orthodox decried the founding of Israel on theological grounds.For, according to them only the Messiah could reestablish the People in the Land of Israel, whereas more secularized Jews either dismissed that idea or, better still, wanted to seized the initiative from God - with no disrespect intended to the Deity.

Potok's story transcends religious boundaries.It is the story about fathers and sons.I passed along the book to my eldest son who devoured it and enjoyed it.It also added to his level of awareness about other people's beliefs and chosen way of life.Get The Chosen.I recommend it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
This was the first book by Chaim Potok that I have read.Since then I have been working my way through his other novels.I find them all excellent, and once you finish "The Chosen", I would recommend the sequel "The Promise."The Asher Lev series is also outstanding. ... Read more


3. The Gift of Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: 384 Pages (1997-09-10)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.24
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0449001156
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
In the continuation of one of Potok's best-known books, we find Lev called back to Brooklyn from France--and once again forced to make a choice between the sacred and the worldly. Lev comes to realize that his decision will affect not only the two worlds he inhabits, but also the sanctitiy of his family and, most importantly, the future of his young son. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

4-0 out of 5 stars haunting
I wish I hadn't read this book.It was well-written, but so sad.Haunting.Years later, I still think about it, and feel so bad for Asher.The book was a great read, but I still wish I'd stopped while he still had a chance.

4-0 out of 5 stars Slow, Meditative, and Enjoyable
Asher Lev, the artist who agonized himself and his family in My Name Is Asher Lev, is now a grown man. He lives in France and is married to Devorah, a World War II survivor, and they have two children, Rocheleh and Avrumel. The novel opens with the death of Asher's uncle. Throughout, Asher faces the agonizing change that takes place as his own family becomes rooted in the place he thought he had left forever - Brooklyn, the headquarters for Ladover Judaism. Loss casts a deep shadow over the story.

I found The Gift of Asher Lev a little more difficult to read than My Name Is Asher Lev, but still filled with Potok's signature dazzling imagery and understated lyrical prose. Yesterday as I was nearing the end of the book, I told my roommates I would like to write out sentences from the book and paste them all over my walls so I could imbibe them their brilliance. Anyone who wants to be a serious writer could profit from reading The Gift of Asher Lev. It is a slow, meditative, but enjoyable book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling
Twenty years on from where we left Asher Lev we now find him married with two children and living in France. He, and is work, are suffering in the wake of some strongly critical reviews of his latest Paris show. Then he receives news of his uncles death, and he and his family return to Brooklyn.

The story follows Asher's turmoil as he confronts a number of problems on his return from exile: his relationship with his fellow believers, difficulties with his cousins over his uncles will, and more significantly his period of artist's block and the potential prospects for his beloved son, the five year old Avrumel. His turmoil over the last is all the more intense as only he seems able to appreciate the situation, namely that their religious leader the Rebbe is getting old and having no son of his own will need to select a successor, the obvious choice is Asher's Father, but as Asher is obviously unacceptable as his father's successor the role would fall to Avrumel. Here a parallel is drawn with Abraham and Isaac, is Asher prepared to sacrifice his son, he must confront the issue: his art or his son.

This is a beautiful and at times mystic story, Asher often drifts into a dream like state having visions of past, present and possibly future events. The characters are superbly drawn, Avrumel is a delightful young lad; Asher's father seems much more human now; and with Asher we really get inside the mind of an artist. The Rebbe too is a remarkable man, full of wisdom, never laying down the law but giving guidance through reasoning and suggestion.


5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling
Twenty years on from when we left Asher Lev we now find him married with two children and living in France. He, and is work, are suffering in the wake of some strongly critical reviews of his latest Paris show. Then he receives news of his uncles death, and he and his family return to Brooklyn.

The story follows Asher's turmoil as he confronts a number of problems on his return from exile: his relationship with his fellow believers, difficulties with his cousins over his uncles will, and more significantly his period of artist's block and the potential prospects for his beloved son, the five year old Avrumel. His turmoil over the last is all the more intense as only he seems able to appreciate the situation, namely that their religious leader the Rebbe is getting old and having no son of his own will need to select a successor, the obvious choice is Asher's Father, but as Asher is obviously unacceptable as his father's successor the role would fall to Avrumel. Here a parallel is drawn with Abraham and Isaac, is Asher prepared to sacrifice his son, he must confront the issue: his art or his son.

This is a beautiful and at times mystic story, Asher often drifts into a dream like state having visions of past, present and possibly future events. The characters are superbly drawn, Avrumel is a delightful young lad; Asher's father seems much more human now; and with Asher we really get inside the mind of an artist. The Rebbe too is a remarkable man, full of wisdom, never laying down the law but giving guidance through reasoning and suggestion.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as much as the first.
My first introduction to the brilliant Chaim Potok was his novel, My Name is Asher Lev, the story of a Ladover Hasidic Jew, conflicted and divided by religion and art.In, The Gift of Asher Lev, the artist is grown, older--still conflicted--and now the father of two children and a husband of a Holocaust survivor.His own father has traversed the ladder and his now the right-hand-man of the Landover Rebbe.

When Lev's uncle dies, Asher returns to Brooklyn, family in tow.It's here that his conflict matures.In his return, we see how years of fame and maturity have impacted Asher Lev's mind and changed his view of home, his artistic and religious beginnings.

The Gift of Asher Lev is not fast paced action.This story is not the stuff of commercial best sellers.It's about life and art and perspective.It's reflection and internal conflict.I see part of myself in Asher Lev and his conflict, or I see Asher Lev in me.And Chaim Potok's use of repetition, foreshadowing, and peephole luminance of a world foreign to me is wonderful.He's reminded me that in writing is art, and his writing is beautiful craftsmanship.

I highly recommend My Name is Asher Lev, followed by The Gift of Asher Lev. Although the first is better than the sequel.
... Read more


4. Old Men at Midnight (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: 304 Pages (2002-07-30)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.96
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0345439988
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
From the celebrated author of The Chosen and My Name Is Asher Lev, a trilogy of related novellas about a woman whose life touches three very different men—stories that encompass some of the profoundest themes of the twentieth century.

Ilana Davita Dinn is the listener to whom three men relate their lives.

As a young girl, she offers English lessons to a teenage survivor of the camps. In “The Ark Builder,” he shares with her the story of his friendship with a proud old builder of synagogue arks, and what happened when the German army invaded their Polish town.

As a graduate student, she finds herself escorting a guest lecturer from the Soviet Union, and in “The War Doctor,” her sympathy moves him to put his painful past to paper recounting his experiences as a Soviet NKVD agent who was saved by an idealistic doctor during the Russian civil war, only to encounter him again during the terrifying period of the Kremlin doctors’ plot.

And, finally, we meet her in “The Trope Teacher,” in which a distinguished professor of military history, trying to write his memoirs, is distracted by his wife’s illness and by the arrival next door of a new neighbor, the famous writer I. D. (Ilana Davita) Chandal.

Poignant and profound, Chaim Potok’s newest fiction is a major addition to his remarkable—and remarkably loved—body of work.


From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars In the Midnight Hour
Chaim Potok has long been a crafter of stories that leap off the page into consciousness due to the vivid characters and the reality behind his pieces."Old Men at Midnight" is no different, except that rather than a complete novel, it is a series of three interconnected stories about Jewish war experience.Each tale is finely crafted, full of bittersweet memories that the characters have trouble living with and talking about.

The first piece, "The Ark Builder", is perhaps the most poignant and resonant story in the collection.It tells the tale of Noah, a sixteen-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, transplanted to live with his aunt and uncle in New York.His aunt hires Ilana Davita Dinn to tutor her newphew and teach him English.While Noah is eager to learn, he is reticent to talk about his experiences, offering pictures to Ilana's young step-sister in place of words.When Noah is able to tell Ilana his story, the reader learns that he is not only a survivor of the Holocaust, but the sole survivor of his village.The ending to "The Ark Builder" leaves many questions still unanswered, with the reader hungry to know all that happened to Noah.

Ilana Davita Dinn is the connection between all three stories, although she appears very briefly in the second piece, "The War Doctor".In this second installment, she is the inspiration for a Former Soviet NKVD agent to tell his story of life in Stalinist Russia.It is a chilling look at the double life a Jew led as a torturer of his fellow people.Ilana appears throuhout the final selection, "The Trope Teacher," as the next door neighboor of an aging college professor struggling to write his memoirs.Benjamin Walter has had no trouble writing about his later life, but cannot recall the events from his childhood that are so crucial.While he is caring for his ailing wife, Ilana appears on the scene and prompts him to remember those events that shaped his life long ago.With her help he is able to see the connections between the events in his life.

"Old Men at Midnight" is a well-written examination on the Jewish experience, as war survivors try to reconcile their pasts with their presents.The one point of discord falls with Ilana being the connecting piece among the stories; it is a weak link, especially in the second where she is hardly a character, and in the final piece she seems more of a pawn than an actual presence.Readers are able to see the connections between the pieces without a guide, just as Benjamin Walter in the final story is able to see the roadmap that is his life work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible Trilogy for Riveting An Active Imagination/revised
In spite of some good reviews, especially by Francis McInerney, I need only to add accolades to off-set the reviewers who are not incredibly riveted in their imagination. The ten reviews at the beginning of my copy come from such diverse places as Rocky Mountain News; Book Magazine; St.Louis Post-Dispatch; New York Times, +++New York Jewish Week all point to Potok's historical, literary approach!

I began with reading "The War Doctor" and was quickly mesmerized by the surgery of Doctor Rubinov. As he had performed drastic surgery on the Cossack, Trotsky, he gave extra care to our hero, actually an officers' orderly. It seemed obvious that Potok had returned to his early novels. He pictured Doctor Rubinov caring for the orderly; Possibly due to being taught the Holy Words of Hebrew Prayers. Hardly a good reason to promote him to a Comrade Lieutenant Shertov! Rubinov took the risk of giving him legal papers that sufficed for insurance back to his hometown village.

I was again mesmerized by Potok's wonderful description of Benjamin Walter in his third story of the Trope Teacher. "He was sixty-eight, and ailing. A tall, lean, stately man, with thick gray hair, a square pallid face split by a prominent nose and large webbed eyes, brooding behind old-fashioned spectacles." Again I was hooked by his mystical reputation as a writer. It seemed odd, seeing Ilana as I. D. Chandal in the driver's seat of narrating the longest, most detailed of all the trilogy stories. Throughout his narratives, Chaim Potok places Jewish characters as if they are both Holcaust survivors and members of human history and literature.

After high epectations from his greatest writings of The CHOSEN, The PROMISE, and ASHER LEV, here is his mountain peak of writing in a newer genre of short stories. They appear to become riveted into whole creations, yet also Holy Creations! Maybe they shall reach into those hearts of more and more hopeful believers!
Semi-Retired Chaplain Fred W. Hood

2-0 out of 5 stars Have a true look at the Stalin era
Loved the middle short story.It does transport you back to the Stalin era.What a horrible era.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work about personal integrity.
Midnight is asociated with journeys trough tough-hard times. The Old age of a person is asociated with a time where physical strenght is not greater than personal determination, values and beleif. Being old at midnight is a crude task, specially when overwhelming powerful forces are oppressing goodwill people. Trough the eyes of a woman along three diffrent stages of her life and from the lips of a teenager surviavor of the holocaust, the voice of a former secret soviet serviceman and from the recalls of an historian, Chaim Potok has given us a brilliant treaty of those who rather face destiny with dignity and integrity, even when that mean a certain death in body, but to live far beyond to stick to goodwill values. A superlative book about an archbuider, a righfull physician and a prophesor of Torah, all they share in common trhe love for life and the gust to face destny and to fight any form of overwhelming oppresion. Ileana Davita carries on a message of integrity and inspiration. This is a must!

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the midnight...
An Outstanding perspective of courage and integrity!
Midnight is asociated with hard-tough times and jorneys of our lives, where uncertaninty is the only location...journeys where we need to gather of all courage and dignity. So midnight is a time where interior light is the most important tool to keep goodwill going. Midnight means repression, terror coming from the side of the cruel and strong, the merciless, the rulers by overwhelming force.
Old age is a time when we have to gather all our forces to face the greatest dilemmas of life. The old man is like the young lion: he knows when and how to fight, but sometimes phisical strenght has beeb left behind, so Old Men needs to be brave to face destiny, oppression and racism.
The poem of Rudyard Kippling "The Storm Cone" (1932) illustrate this point: "This is the midnight, let no star delude us, dawn is very far, this is the tempest long foretold, slow to make head, but sure to hold".Still and however, as Jorge Luis Borges wrote: "the past is indestructible and sooner or later comes back...and we need people to recall, to fight the power of the overwhelming leeders, the merciless, the opressors, the racists, the butchers.
Chaim Potok is a clever and brilliant author who has given us three different stories seen from the magic perspective of Ileana Davita: the narration of a young survivor of the horror of Holocaust, the vision a secret serviceman who lives the opresion under Stalin and the vision of a veteran Chronist of War and Geopolitics, on the matter of the phantoms of the nightmare of war, as a major disgrace. This is the kind of Book that you are going to talk with your friends. Do not miss it. ... Read more


5. The Gates of November
by Chaim Potok, Leonid Slepak, Vladimir Slepak, Alexander Slepak, Maria Slepak
Paperback: 272 Pages (1997-09-08)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.98
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 044991240X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
"REMARKABLE . . . A WONDERFUL STORY."
--The Boston Globe

The father is a high-ranking Communist officer, a Jew who survived Stalin's purges. The son is a "refusenik," who risked his life and happiness to protest everything his father held dear. Now, Chaim Potok, beloved author of the award-winning novels The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev, unfolds the gripping true story of a father, a son, and a conflict that spans Soviet history. Drawing on taped interviews and his harrowing visits to Russia, Potok traces the public and privates lives of the Slepak family: Their passions and ideologies, their struggles to reconcile their identities as Russians and as Jews, their willingness to fight--and die--for diametrically opposed political beliefs.

"[A] vivid account . . . [Potok] brings a novelist's passion and eye for detail to a gripping story that possesses many of the elements of fiction--except that it's all too true."
--San Francisco Chronicle Amazon.com Review
Potok, well known for his novels of Jewish family life such asThe Chosen, turns tononfiction in The Gates of November, a wrenching familychronicle with a riveting historical undercurrent. The story of the family patriarch, SolomonSlepak, spans most of the book: ignoring his mother's wish that hebecome a rabbi, Slepak emigrated at 13 to America, became a Marxist inNew York, returned to fight in the Russian Revolution, and rose toprominence within the Communist Party. But while Solomon remained aconvinced Bolshevik, his son Volodya rejected socialism whenanti-Semitism emerged during Stalin's era.Disowned by his father,Volodya was later exiled to Siberia as a dissident.The story of theSlepaks is simultaneously the story of Soviet Jewry and the rise andfall of the Soviet Union. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book, helps me understand my own families history!
I was born in Ukraine and immigrated half a year before the collapse of USSR.Many of the accounts I read in this book are very similar to what I've heard and experienced growing up.This book is factual and speaks for many Jews who lived thought the communist regime.While my parents and I see the evils of that dictatorship, my grandparents saw and believed in communism as a means to bringing out the best of people. My grandmother was a successful corporate lawyer and grandfather was a vice president of a large corporation.They saw communism as an opportunity to apply their education towards success while over looking many of the negatives of the government: my grandfather was denied the role of president within his company because he was a Jew.After leaving Ukraine my father eventually became orthodox, accusing the former Soviet Union of systematically attempting and succeeding on some grounds to destroy our religious culture.This book helped me understand some of the mindsets of two opposing philosophies within my own family.

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent reading!
the gates of novemeber was one of the best documentaries i have ever read. chiam potok chronicles the life of multiple generations of soviet jews who suffered under a few different soviet leaders. it is a very moving story and the character depth and descriptions make it feel as if you are on the journey with them.highly recommeded.

5-0 out of 5 stars FROM BOLSHEVIK TO "REFUSEDNIK" IN TWO GENERATIONS
The paterfamilias of the Slepak family is "The Old Bolshevik," Solomon.He comes on the scene in the very early years of the Russian Revolution as an avid revolutionary.Even though he is Jewish, and Jews are looked on as part of the "internationalist" enemies, he rises high in the Communist hierarchy and somehow manages to survive all of the Stalinist purges.No one knows quite why, but he is, arguably, the highest ranking of the original revolutionaries except, of course, Stalin, himself, to do so.No matter what horrors are the responsibility of Stalin or his successors, Solomon always believes that they are necessary aspects of "The Revolution."Even when he and his family suffer from these excesses, he retains his faith in his leaders and their actions.In fact, when Stalin is denounced after his death, Solomon's attitude is that Stalin did what was necesary during his time, and the later leaders are now doing what must be done now.Like so many zealots, even those of the present time, he believes that whatever is done in the name of the cause is right.

For purposes of this family history, this belief comes to a head when he, for all purposes, disowns his son, Volodya, for wanting to emigrate out of the U.S.S.R. to Israel.

The government, using as an excuse that Volodya has worked in a field where he "knows secrets," refuses him permission to leave.Volodya and his wife, Masha, become activists, working on behalf of those Jews refused permission to emigrate.Because of these activities, Volodya loses one job after another, is exiled to an unliveable part of Siberia for five years, and is frequently imprisoned.All of this does serious damage to his health, but he perseveres.By these actions, he gains international fame and is partially responsible for thousands of other Jews being allowed to exit, even though he is still denied an exit visa.

Potok's book vividly describes the horrors of these years, and serves as both a family chronicle and a history of the Jewish people in Russia, ranging from the horrors suffered under the Tsars, to the further horrors suffered under the followers of Lenin.

In many ways this book is a history of the abuses that accompany absolute power and those that go along with rule by zealots of any persuasion.

As an aside, _THE GATES OF NOVEMBER_ does end on a high note.Volodya and Masha are finally allowed to leave, and do live out their lives in freedom.

4-0 out of 5 stars History of a Jewish Family in Russia
I�m a great fan of Chaim Potok (who passed away recently, in case you didn�t hear). He�s a brilliant novelist who was educated to be a rabbi, but never had a congregation. He apparently was approached some time in the 80�s to write this story, and finally managed to complete it a few years ago. It�s a theme that Potok returned to repeatedly in his fiction: fathers and sons, conflict in families, trying to make things right and do the right thing.

In this instance, the author met the second generation of the Slepak family. The first generation was an old Bolshevik who commanded a division of the Red Army in the Far East during the Russian Civil War, and often met Stalin for press briefings in the 30�s. By then he spoke 11 languages, 8 of them fluently, and so translated newspapers and magazines for Stalin. He was almost purged in the late thirties, wound up retiring early in the mid 40�s, and lived to be an old man. He was also Jewish, though completely assimilated and non-religious. He had a family, including a son who turned out very different from the father.

The son became a refusenik in the seventies, trying to leave the country when it became apparent that anti-Semitism reared its ugly head in the period after WW2. He was one of the leaders of the group, and was quite prominent. He and his wife were able, finally, to move to Israel. The father was alive for the early part of the refusenik movement, and was mystified that his son wanted to go to Israel.

All in all this is an interesting book. I do think that his prose works better in fiction than it does in non-fiction. That being said, this is still a very good book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brought History to Life
I studied the Russian Revolution and its aftermath in history class recently, and was honestly pretty bored.

Knowing that the Russian Revolution played a large role in the plot of this book, I was a little cautious as I began reading.However, as I delved further into it, I realized that not only was it quite interesting, I was learning a lot of history.This book kept my attention throughout and brought what I previously thought was dry, to life.

I highly recommend you read this book. ... Read more


6. The Promise
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-11-08)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.17
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 1400095417
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
Reuven Malter lives in Brooklyn, he’s in love, and he’s studying to be a rabbi. He also keeps challenging the strict interpretations of his teachers, and if he keeps it up, his dream of becoming a rabbi may die.

One day, worried about a disturbed, unhappy boy named Michael, Reuven takes him sailing and cloud-watching.Reuven also introduces him to an old friend, Danny Saunders–now a psychologist with a growing reputation. Reconnected by their shared concern for Michael,Reuven and Danny each learns what it is to take on life–whether sacred truths or a troubled child–according to his own lights, not just established authority.

In a passionate, energetic narrative, The Promise brilliantly dramatizes what it is to master and use knowledge to make one’s own way in the world ... Read more

Customer Reviews (52)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Promise
Another great book by Chaim Potok. I have read many of his books and they are all wonderful books. I can always count on Amazon to find these quality books.

5-0 out of 5 stars An "exercise in intellectual confrontation" presented as impassioned drama
During a 1986 lecture Chaim Potok reflected on his fiction, and he addressed specifically the secular-religious conflict of "The Promise": "Danny Saunders chops up Freud, and Reuven Malter chops up the Bible and the Talmud, each for his own convenience. Is this an intellectually honest way to proceed?" Potok's answer was tentatively in the affirmative, noting that ever since the Age of Reason, writers have reached to their pasts and their frontiers to enrich the present: "We pick and choose those elements of that alien culture toward which we feel a measure of affinity."

Familiar to readers of "The Chosen," Danny and Reuven continue on the paths that lead them both to embrace and to challenge their heritage: Danny as the Talmudic wunderkind turned psychologist and Reuven as the more worldly youth studying to be a rabbi. But there are other stars around whom the students orbit: Abraham Gordon and Jacob Kalman, two scholars whose approach to the Talmud and to Judaism--and to life--represent bitterly opposing extremes. The liberal Gordon is a friend of Reuven's family, and the Orthodox Rev Kalman, a refugee from the Nazis, is the tyrannical teacher who has the power over Reuven's future. The intensely personal dramas of all three families--the Malters, the Saunderses, and the Gordons--become intertwined even further by the presence of Gordon's son, a deeply troubled boy whose experimental treatment is supervised by Danny. Like its predecessor, "The Promise" is as much about the impassioned tensions between its characters as it is about cerebral disputes over secularism and faith.

Potok acknowledged that both "The Chosen" and "The Promise" were "essentially exercises in intellectual confrontation." It must be said that the later novel's arguments--their premises, their presentation, and their resolutions--are almost too pat for such an exercise in fiction, and its characters all reach moral and emotional reckonings that seem to be based more on a Talmudic-like calculus than on the rough and tumble of real life. Nevertheless, "The Promise" is riveting and powerful and provocative, and the reader is enriched by and grateful for the uncertainties it raises rather than the dilemmas it resolves.

5-0 out of 5 stars tragic juxtaposition of old and new worlds
This book follows up on The Chosen, picking up the lives of Danny and Reuven and their families. Rachel Gordon is introduced as a friend of Reuven's who goes on to become Danny's wife. Abraham and Ruth Gordon and their son Michael--a catatonic schizophrenic for much of the book--become clients of Danny. As Michael's personal psychoanalyst, Danny draws back on his being raised "in silence" to force Michael to talk to him by keeping him in silent seclusion for months.The problem with Michael recurs elsewhere in the book as a theme: the juxtaposition of old and new worlds along with the mutual love/hate relationships they provoke.For Michael, this love/hate relationship consumes him.He is very angry about Hasidic criticism of his father, an agnostic Jewish professor at Frankel Seminary who observes the Commandments and yet can not see God as personal.He and his wife have the dry husks of religion.This book makes you conclude, "People need the Lord."Several times near the end, allusions are made to the Messiah not having yet come.It is not apparent that, beyond his personal ethics, Danny's faith makes any difference to how he practices psychology.He is a pure secularist. One marvels at the continued pull of Judaism on enlightened people like the Gordons. They observe Jewish ritual and yet forsake the very God of their fathers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Theological Food for Thought
I love reading Potok's books for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that I always learn a tremendous amount about Judaism. I also like reading him from a Christian perspective and often wonder what he would make of messianic Jews (the Jews for Jesus folks).The Promise left me with many thoughts, not the least of which was what was the promise? Potok's struggle to reconcile the various approaches to Judaism in 20th century America is insightful and refreshing. And it's not limited to Judaism. I think there is much to be gleaned here that is applicable to us even within mainstream Christian denominations.
In a lot of ways the Michael character represents the end result of what happened to the Jews in the 20th century. He finally blows up in anger at his parents for belonging to a religion where they are open to attacks, anti-Semitism, and victimization. In his final breakdown he screams that he hates religion because of what it does to people.Michael's rage and mental illness are symbolic of not only what did happen to the Jews in the 20th century, but what happened when Jews could not accept the events of the holocaust and choose to walk away from the idea of God. I think it is also symbolic of what happens when there is legalism and instead of love (but that's my Christian bias). Michael's father ethnically and religiously identifies as a Jew, but asserts there is no God.Likewise, many Jews walked away from their faith, away from the idea of a God who created the universe (like Abraham Gordon) because of what Hitler did to the Jews in World War II.They could no longer comprehend that a loving God would allow that kind of suffering. Of course, they also don't accept Christ's ultimate suffering on the cross either.
The movement from Orthodox to reformed Jew is played out in Abraham Gordon's character. Reuven and his father are also a part of this movement in a small way. They reformed the way the Talmud is studied, which became an instant threat to the Orthodox way of studying. I also enjoyed the way Potok paralleled what was happening with the Jewish community with what was happening in the American secular political world with his references to McCarthyism. That the sort of rigid witch hunting legalism that forbade the yeshiva students from even studying in the Jewish theological seminary is and was a rampant human universal even outside of the Jewish community. Reuven's own struggle to maintain his theology and identity as a yeshiva student is all too poignant.
I like the way Potok ends his theological debate with Danny's and Rachel's marriage. The beauty of Rachel and Danny's relationship points to the evolution of marrying (literally) old traditions to new ideas.Of course, the success of that remains to be seen, but the continued mixing of old and new traditions within 21st century Judaism is one of Potok's main points throughout the novel.All in all I loved it, and feel the better for having read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loyal friendship
The Promise, sequel to The Chosen, finds Danny and Reuven now just in their early twenties and approaching the end of their studies. The battle between Orthodox and Reformed beliefs continues along with its consequential effect on Danny and Reuven, and now coming into the arena in addition to Reuven's teachers is Abraham Gordon, the uncle of Reuven's girlfriend Rachel. Then Danny and Reuven have an additional problem to contend with: Abraham Gordon's emotionally disturbed fourteen year old son Michael; the two boys become deeply involved, Danny in his role as a student psychologist and Reuven as Michael's new friend.

As in The Promise there are plenty of discussions centred around the Talmud, but they are so well explained and presented that they are of interest even for someone who has little or no knowledge of such. But the real beauty of the story is the relationship between the characters. The two boys are remarkable individuals who by their modest and respectful attitude along with their devotion to their faith seem to endear them to all whom they meet. Danny and Reuven remain best friends and show complete trust in each other; Reuven's active concern for Michael is very touching; and Reuven's relationship with his father, the love and respect he has for him, is a joy to behold.

The Promise is a remarkable book, a fitting conclusion to the fascinating story which started in The Chosen. Extremely well written, it is an enjoyable, thought provoking and heart warming tale which I highly recommend.
... Read more


7. Zebra and Other Stories
by Chaim Potok
Mass Market Paperback: 160 Pages (2000-09-12)
list price: US$4.99 -- used & new: US$7.99
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0375806865
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
"In six quietly powerful stories, Potok explores varieties of inner and outer healing, both in individuals and families: 'Zebra' begins to regain use of his crushed hand and leg creating art assigned by an intinerant teacher; 'Isabel' finds unexpected solace in the company of her new stepsister. In the collection's haunting centerpiece, 'Nava' uses her father's experiences in war, and his connection with a Navajo healer, to fend off a frighteningly persistent drug dealer. The families represented are all middle-class or upper-middle-class, but the relationships, the feelings of loss, grief, regret, hope, and relief are universal; readers sensitive to nuances of language and situation will be totally absorbed by these profound character studies."--Kirkus Reviews, Pointer
Amazon.com Review
Each of the six stories in Chaim Potok's lovely collection is titled simplywith the name of the main character, reflecting the essence of these quietselections--intense, exquisitely drawn portraits of the ordinary lives ofyoung people. In "Zebra" a boy, with the help of a mysterious,unconventional art teacher, begins to regain the use of his crushedhand--and in the process heals a bit of his injured spirit. Secretsabound in "B.B.," where a young girl whose baby brother has died must copewith discovering the hidden realities about her family that are "too muchof a secret for me to be carrying alone." "Nava" describes how a youngwoman handles a bully, calling upon the strength inspired by the words of aNative American family friend to confront a violent drug dealer.

The issues faced by these young adults--trust, divorce, grief, hope, peerand family dynamics--are common coming-of-age milestones. But what makesPotok's powerful work shine is that he clearly holds respect for theintelligence and intuition of young people, allowing them to decipher theirown truths--refraining from preaching or hammering a point home. Potok,author of The Chosen, published several ofthese stories previously in adult publications. Nevertheless, these voicesnever sound dubiously mature for their teen years; they speak thestraightforward, often strikingly insightful language of youth. As oneyoung character notes, "I think losing your soul is when you can't tell astory about something that has happened to you." Indeed. Judging by thequality and craftsmanship of these tales, it's obvious that Potok isbrimming with soul. (Ages 12 and older). --Brangien Davis ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Iqbal Massih, Senator Heinz, and "married" stepsisters
The story "Moon" is based on the tragic life of Iqbal Massih, a Pakistani boy who fought against child labor and was murdered in Pakistan at the age of 12, after returning from a visit to the U. S.Pakistan should erect a memorial to Iqubal, but instead the country's elite live off the labor of thousands of children who live in abject poverty with no hope for any better future.

The aircraft collision that happens over Emmie's school as described in the story "Max," in which a "United States senator" is killed, is a fairly accurate description of the accident that killed Republican Senator H. John Heinz of Pennsylvania in 1991. Two first-grade girls were killed when the helicopter fell into the schoolyard at Merion Elementary School in a suburb of Philadelphia--only 30 feet from the main building.The airplane fell on the other side of the building. Along with Sen. Heinz, both the pilots and co-pilots of the airplane and helicopter were also killed.Sen. Heinz's widow, Teresa, inherited almot $1 billion after her husband's death.She later married Democratic Senator and presidential candidate John Kerry.

The two stepsisters in "Isabel" are symbolically "married" when Betsy slips one of her late mother's rings on Isabel's finger--immediately after the wedding of Betsy's father and Isabel's widowed mother. On their parents' wedding night, as Betsy enters Isabel's room, Isabel remarks "Daddy wouldn't've wanted me to be alone," echoing her mother's earlier remark about her late husband's wishes for her.Zebra and Other Stories

4-0 out of 5 stars Good For Class Discussions
Zebra and Other Stories by Chaim Potok is a great way to introduce students to voice and author.Each story presents a unique psychological insight to the characters, and possibly the author's own feelings about adolescent crises.

I especially enjoyed "Moon," which highlighted the disconnection many adolescents experience with their parents.The main character also undergoes a transformation, through the use of his music, which is an interest and need many adolescents identify with.

Though the stories left me with way more questions that answers, and a bit of confusion, I think Potok intended this for discussion purposes.The stories touch on very sensitive subjects, and can be a good way for students to be introduced to how we can discuss these subjects respectfully.

4-0 out of 5 stars insightful stories
I thought this way this book was structured with the variety of different stories and perspectives help it to move quickly.I thought particularly Zebra and Nava were excellent stories about young adolescent experience.Potok did a great job of structuring each story with relevant and fast-paced events.I think students might find some of the characters or stories boring, but as a college education student, I enjoyed this collection.

2-0 out of 5 stars Good for a school assignment, but otherwise, no...
Our opinions on three of the stories:

ZEBRA: I think that the story Zebra was well written. The downside of the story is it's really boring. I think that stories like this are boring. Some people like them, but I don't. This would not be my first choice in books. I think it brings great shame to literature as we know it. It is a stupid and boring story which someone with nothing better to do would write. Who would want to read about a stupid kid who runs out in front of a car and gets hit by it? It's depressing! Sure the ending may be happy, but up to that point it's about a sad boy who ran into a car and broke most of his bones. ....

MOON: A critically acclaimed short story or a literary disaster? In my opinion, it is comparable to Hiroshima. I admit it was well written enough, but the plot was truly awful...for me, anyway. I'd rather have my appendix removed than read a book with a plot concerning people, their hardships, and how they grow afterwards, and that pretty much describes most of Mr. Potok's books. I hate books like that; Chicken Soup-like books. If, for whatever reason, you like books like that, then you'd probably like this book ...

NAVA: In my opinion, Nava is the best out of all the stories compiled into Zebra. However, the ending is one that doesn't fit the story very well, and it leaves you wanting more. The characters are believable, all except for the father, and the story isn't that well written."How can one say all these negative things and still call it the best story of the book," you ask?Well, that is because this was the best story, which lets you know what I thought of the other ones. Zebra is a great book for classwork, because the stories are short enough that they can be read and discussed within a 42 minute class period, but I would never read this if I had a choice for pleasure reading.

...

4-0 out of 5 stars Thought Prevoking
Chaim Potok's, book Zebra and Other Stories is very insightful. It gives us a glimpse of the complex lives of teens today. I really was able to identify with the emotions and feelings of the characters. I even felt at times as if I was a "fly on the wall", sneaking a peek! ... Read more


8. My Name Is Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: 369 Pages (2003-03-11)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.90
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 1400031044
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
Asher Lev is a Ladover Hasid who keeps kosher, prays three times a day and believes in the Ribbono Shel Olom, the Master of the Universe.Asher Lev is an artist who is compulsively driven to render the world he sees and feels even when it leads him to blasphemy.In this stirring and often visionary novel, Chaim Potok traces Asher’s passage between these two identities, the one consecrated to God, the other subject only to the imagination.

Asher Lev grows up in a cloistered Hasidic community in postwar Brooklyn, a world suffused by ritual and revolving around a charismatic Rebbe. But in time his gift threatens to estrange him from that world and the parents he adores.As it follows his struggle, My Name Is Asher Lev becomes a luminous portrait of the artist, by turns heartbreaking and exultant, a modern classic. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (116)

5-0 out of 5 stars "Art is a lie which makes us realize the truth." ~Picasso
My Name is Asher Lev, which Chaim Potok called his most autobiographical novel, is the struggle of a gifted artist torn between his art and his orthodox traditions that reject art. Potok asserted that the conflict between tradition and modernity is constant and that the tension between religion and art is life-long.

My Name is Asher Lev takes place in the 1940's among a small Hasidic Jewish Community in Brooklyn. It begins in the following manner: "My name is Asher Lev, the Asher Lev, about whom you have read in newspapers and magazines, about whom you talk so much at your dinner affairs and cocktail parties, the notorious and legendary Lev of the Brooklyn Crucifix."

Asher Lev is a religious Jew with a God-given gift; that of painting and drawing and the innate ability to interpret the pain he sees and feels onto canvas. This is the story of a boy on his journey of self-discovery through his teenage years and into adulthood upon entering the world of the Other Side. Jacob Kahn, a famous artist becomes Asher's mentor and teacher in the world of art. Kahn is asked by the Rebbé himself to take Asher Lev under his tutelage which he does with artistry and style and teaches Asher through his own methods which are often in contrast to Hasidic principles.

The internal and external themes in the book generate conflicts and quests that craft allusions which may be easily recognized by many readers as central themes within their own lives. For Asher, the battle begins when he must learn to understand, the internal conflict between religion and art.

The book concludes at Asher's art exhibit where his masterpiece, a painting that embodies the torment and anguish he observed during his mothers illness is captured in an image trapped between two realms of meaning, as portrayed in the Brooklyn Crucifix.

Chaim Potok was a brilliant painter and he created a painting of the Brooklyn Crucifix, the painting central to the book My Name is Asher Lev. This is my favorite book, and one of my favorite lines in the book is by Aryeh Lev, "You see how a goy behaves."Its meaning reminds me of my own Father and something he used to say.

3-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre writing mars interesting concept
When I was a kid, "My Name is Asher Lev" was on my parents' bookshelf, as it probably was for every Jewish family in America.I didn't read the book at that time, though I probably opened it on a rainy day when I was banned from the television.

So, I picked it up at the library with curiousity and a bit of nostalgia.And then I got down to the dreary task of reading the 370-plus pages.The book just isn't very good.The writing is clunky, and all of the characters, except possibly Asher Lev, are as interesting as wood blocks.Cliches abound, and the epiphanies are on the level of a TV evangelist's sermon.In short, I don't understand what all the fuss was about.

The best that I can say for the book is that it does give a good sense of what it would be like to grow up in a Hasidic community.The reader really does get a feel for how piousness was the sole measure of importance in the Hasidic community.And the reader learns about the strength that delivers -- the certainty that you are doing a righteous thing and that your path is determined by the rebbe -- but also about the questions that arise when you consider how it might be constricting you from other things you could achieve.The book shows these alternating sides of the issue through the classic device of a son wanting to take a path far different from his father's, and the father becoming angrier and angrier over a period of years.Ultimately, they are not reconciled, and the son will have to leave his Hasidic community in order to pursue his mission as an artist.

The plot is timeworn, and the "shocking" denoument is a silly: a religious Jew painting his mother in a crucifixion scene.When the book was published in the 1970s, this idea was probably exotic and maybe even scandalous.Today, it's meh.

All of this is put down in clunky prose that consists mostly of short, declarative sentences. Perhaps that's an effort to stay in the voice of a young man who is not a writer and who has learned Yiddish alongside English; maybe his English isn't very good.But the book doesn't do anything with this device, nor with any other devices open to it, such as serious discussion of religious and moral issues, assessment of the place of art in life, or the father-son thing.The boy's awakening as an artist is the most sensitively drawn material in the book, and it's fairly memorable.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Name Is Asher Lev
My wife and I both read it and we both enjoyed it very much. A good story, well written.

5-0 out of 5 stars Chaim Potok's BEST
I LOVED THIS BOOK.I've read 3 Chaim Potok books and have become a fan of his writings - plan to read more.However, so far this is my favorite.The story captured my attention from the first page to the last.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Great Potok Book
Another great novel by Potok.Here is this great Jewish artist who has this great love for art but is restricted to draw what he desires because he doesn't want to hurt his parents or go against his faith.Potok takes us inside the mind of this boy and when I read it, I started to hear his thoughts and learn what he felt like.I loved the parts when Potok was describing Asher's desire to draw and how he saw things.I dunno how to describe it, you just have to read it.I wonder if Potok was an artist himself, because it seemed like he really knew what he was talking about.I don't really know how to write good reviews, but I just wanted to share my love for this book with everyone else. ... Read more


9. Davita's Harp
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: 384 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$3.65
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0449911837
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
For Davita Chandal, growing up in the New York of the 1930s and '40s is an experience of joy and sadness. Her loving parents, both fervent radicals, fill her with the fiercely bright hope of a new and better world. But as the deprivations of war and depression take a ruthless toll, Davita unexpectedly turns to the Jewish faith that her mother had long ago abandoned, finding there both a solace for her questioning inner pain and a test of her budding spirit of independence.


From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (46)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Music of the World
Chaim Potok is best known for his novels "My Name is Asher Lev" and "The Chosen", novels that center around religious experience and are narrated by male characters."Davita's Harp" is similar in that it is the quest of a young character to come to terms with what she knows of her world and religion, but different in the fact that the narrator is a young girl."Davita's Harp" is a compelling read which allows readers to question and grow along with Potok's main character.

Ilana Davita Chandal's story begins in the New York of the 1930s.Her parents - her father a non-believing Christian, her mother a non-believing Jew) - are radial communists who try to teach their daughter that a better world is coming.Yet the family constantly has to move because of the parents' political beliefs and when world events take a turn for the worse, Davita finds herself questiong what her parents have always believed in and wondering if what they no longer believe in may hold the answers she seeks.As the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War ensnares her family and the world pushes ever closer to World War II, Davita turns to her mother's religion and finds herself in a world that she can understand.But is it a world that her mother will accept once again and can the two of them reconcile themselves to all of the loss that both of them have faced in their lives?

"Davita's Harp" is beautifully written and Davita is a charming, imaginative character whom readers will like - the same cannot necessarily be said at all times for her mother.Potok examines how faith can both help a person through difficult times and how at other times people may find it to fail them.Davita's experiences are familiar and stirring, experiences that many readers will also have experienced.Her life is a mixture of story and the real, as she encounters injustices and must learn how to reconcile the ideal with the real.There is a power in the way in which Potok tells a story, leaving certain things unsaid but known while crafting other important concepts into beautiful, thought-provoking stories.

5-0 out of 5 stars Davita's Harp
Beautifully written story, evocative of a place and time I shared with Davita. It threw me right back to the comfort and contradictions of organized religious tradition I experienced as a young girl.I just reread it after 20 years had passed. As wonderful as ever.

3-0 out of 5 stars good seller
Very good service from the seller, book was used so it is okay. I will enjoy reading it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Viewing the world from 3' 6"
Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok is narrated by Ilana Davita, an inquisitive and imaginative little girl living in 1930s New York.Although Davita is only eight-years-old, she lives in a very grown up world.Davita goes to bed every night listening to the communist meetings her parents hold in the living room.When she walks to and from school she is harassed for her Jewish heritage.Conversation at the breakfast table include genocide, war, and other world events.Davita is always trying to reconcile her Jewish heritage with her mother's own rejection of Judaism.Davita also deals with the death of a close family member.

It is no surprise then that Davita forms some coping mechanisms in response to her very adult life.Davita uses imagination to turn the ugly world she sees into a more palatable one. She finds that magic exists in stories so why can't it exist for her?Davita's "magic" imagination gives her comfort as she walks through her life.

Davita's Harp is a beautiful novel discussing how the human imagination is a means of survival in a grotesque world and how large scale world events effect each of us as individuals.I thought the book was a little slow moving, but the charming child narrator kept me interested.Many novels show us the ugliness of our world.Fewer show it to us from 3' 6".

5-0 out of 5 stars How does one break with the past?
Davita is the only daughter of Anna and Michael Chandal, both members of the Communist Party.Both are rebels from their former religions---Michael from Christianity, Anna from Judaism. Davita's parents both have rich and intriguing pasts. Michael's parents disowned him when he married a Jewess, but his devout spinster sisterunites the 3 members of this family by nursing them all at one time or another. She represents a warm-hearted Christianity and prompts Davita to ask herself these questions: how can people make such radical breaks with their past? How can one incidentchange forever a person's identity?Her father is killed while reporting on Fascism in Spain, and her mother eventually marries her cousin, Ezra Dinn, a devout and practicing Jew, who is a good father to Davita.

"Davita's harp" refers to the door harp bought by her father. It has always hung on the door of whatever place she has lived and creates a special feeling for her.While identifying with the agnosticism of her parents, Davita adopts for a time, a Jewish lifestyle; enjoying the "feel" of the synagogue, but hating the patriarchal aspects of it.That eventually results in her leaving, too, the Jewish way.

There were some fairly explicit descriptions of female nudity--when Davita happens upon her mother in the bedroom, for instance, making this book inappropriate for children. ... Read more


10. Conversations with Chaim Potok (Literary Conversations Series)
Paperback: 181 Pages (2001-07-09)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$13.94
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 1578063469
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Editorial Review

*****

One of America's most popular Jewish writers, Chaim Potok (b. 1929) is the author of such novels as The Chosen (1967), The Promise (1969), The Book of Lights (1981), and Davita's Harp (1985). Each of his novels explores the tension between tradition and modernity, and the clash between Jewish culture and contemporary Western civilization, which he calls "core-to-core culture confrontation."

Although primarily known as a novelist, Potok is an ordained Conservative rabbi and a world-class Judaic scholar who has also published children's books, theological discourses, biographies, and histories.

Conversations with Chaim Potok presents interviews ranging from 1976 to 1999. Potok discusses the broad range of his writing and the deep influence of non-Jewish novels-in particular, Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man-on his work. Interviews bear witness to Potok's many other influences-Orthodox Jewish doctrine, Freudian psychoanalytical theory, Picasso's Guernica, and Jewish kabbalah mysticism.

Though labeled an American Jewish writer, Potok argues that Flannery O'Connor should then be called an American Catholic writer and John Updike an American Protestant writer. "In his mind," editor Daniel Walden writes, "just as Faulkner was a writer focused on a particular place, Oxford, Mississippi, . . . so Potok's territory was a small section of New York City."

Potok often explores conflict in his writings and in his interviews. Strict Jewish teachings deem fiction an artifice and therefore unnecessary, yet since the age of sixteen Potok has been driven to write novels. At the root of all of these conversations is Potok's intense interest in the turmoil between Jewish culture, religion, and tradition and what he calls "Western secular humanism."

As he discusses his work, he continually includes broader issues, such as the state of Jewish literature and art, pointing out with pride and enthusiasm his belief that Jewish culture, in the twentieth century, has finally begun to have a significant role in producing and shaping the world's art and literature. Whether discussing the finer details of Talmudic textual analysis or his period of chaplaincy during the Korean War, Potok is articulate and philosophical, bringing deep consideration into what may seem small subjects. Although his novels and histories take place primarily in the recent past, the Chaim Potok that emerges from this collection is a writer deeply rooted in the tensions of the present.

Daniel Walden is Professor Emeritus of American Studies, English and Comparative Literature at Penn State University. He has written or edited several books, including On Being Jewish (1974), Twentieth Century American Jewish Writers (1984), The World of Chaim Potok (1985), and American Jewish Poets: The Roots and the Stems (1990). ... Read more


11. The Chosen: And Related Readings (Literature Connections)
by Chaim Potok
Hardcover: 406 Pages (1997-06)
list price: US$19.76 -- used & new: US$7.98
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0395881455
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Chosen: Danny and Reuven's Interwoven Journey

The Chosen is a capturing story of two boys as they grow and mature throughout their friendship and into adulthood. Reuven Malter is a secular Jew while Danny Saunders is a Hasid. The two are naturally opposed by their religion and unleash their anger toward each other in what is no ordinary baseball game. When Reuven is hit in the eye by a powerful ball hit by Danny, Reuven is rushed to the emergency room. It is while Reuven is recovering from the accident in the hospital that he and Danny official meet and begin their interwoven journey.
Danny and Reuven soon realize that they are opposites from one another. Reuven wishes to become a rabbi after graduating from college, while his father hopes for him to become a mathematician. Contrastingly, Danny dreams of being a psychologist even though he is the rightful heir to becoming a Hasidic rabbi. They are also raised by fathers who have contrasting methods of bringing up their sons. Still, it is through these family difficulties, the devastating tolls of the Holocaust, conflicting religion, and Danny's own secret from his father, that create the powerful and unique bond between the two boys. Join them as they teach each other lessons they could not have learned anywhere else and grow into the young adults they strived to be.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delights
Every so often you go through a period of reading lacklustre books that make the lazy demon in you think of stopping, then you pick up a book like this and your thirst for the written word returns with a vengence!
I was recommended 'The Chosen' some years ago, and turned to it after just such a lull and it truly delights; its a great story well told that gives the reader an insight into the conflicts that lay within Judaism;Danny the orthadox Hassid and Rueven become friends after Danny injures Rueven in a baseball game.The story flows with wonderful imagry from the hospital with Mr Savo and Billy;the streets the two boys live in;the Hassidic home of Reb Saunders,the historical background of WW2 and the birth of Israel;how the mass murder of 6 million Jews brought on a re think of passive waiting for a messiah in a harsh and modern world.
This is great writing;up there with Bellow, Bashevis Singer, Malamud and Appelfeld. ... Read more


12. In the Beginning
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: 416 Pages (1997-09-10)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.55
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 044900113X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
David Lurie learns that all beginnings are hard. He must fight for his place against the bullies in his Depression-shadowed Bronx neighborhood and his own frail health. As a young man, he must start anew and define his own path of personal belief that diverges sharply with his devout father and everything he has been taught....


From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Gentle, Sensitive Intellectual
Averse to books (and movies) with gratuitous sex and violence? Try Chaim Potok. His books tend to honor the gentle, sensitive intellectual (see Elaine Aron's writings on highly sensitive people). In this book, you follow the childhood of David Lurie, a Jewish boy growing up in 1930s and '40s Bronx (New York). An early injury leaves him physically weak and vulnerable to teasing, but his scholarly talents, vivid imagination, and tight-knit community allow him to grow into a fine young adult with the courage to forge his own way, even when that means challenging some of the religious values of his family and friends.

5-0 out of 5 stars A spiritual jouney
I just finished reading this book.I am a devout Catholic involved in Scriptural studies and began realizing how much of what I believe was a gift from the Jews.This book has been on my shelves for a decade or more.I picked it up at the last minute before going on a two-week trip.I looked forward to reading it every evening.It spoke to me like few books have.It explained much about the thinking of Jewish scholars on the Torah, and what the Talmud is.I heartily recommend it to any one on a spiritual journey, whatever your faith.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book, but took me a Long Time to Read
Chaim Potok's "In the Beginning" is excellent- very well detailed and true to life. The only issue I had with it is some of the Jewish terminology is hard to understand for non-Jewish readers, but that is not a big deal. After all, that's what dictionaries and the internet are for, to learn new words! All in all, I enjoyed learning about this point of history from the actual Jewish point of view, not just from the Allies who "helped" the Jews. I would definitely recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jews in America
Excellent study of what it means to be a Jew in America circa 1929-1947, told through the eyes and dreams of a youth who becomes a young man.

Also, an exploration of the angst caused by separating yourself, however gently, from the ideas and expectations of your people and your family.

Read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Book
This is a beautiful story; it is my very favourite book. I love it with all my heart. ... Read more


13. The Chosen, with Connections
by Chaim Potok
Hardcover: 482 Pages (2000-07)
list price: US$18.93 -- used & new: US$5.73
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0030556287
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Happy to have sturdy hard cover version of this wonderful book.
I bought this to replace my shattering paperback copy.I'm sure there's nothing more to say about the plot or the author or the characters - it's on my "read every year" list.

5-0 out of 5 stars An exemplary novel
"The Chosen" by Chaim Potok delivers the finest form of literature. This novel, set near the ending of World War II in Brooklyn, New York, combines realistic and historical events.First, interactions between the characters formulate a pragmatic environment. One example involves a tragic, fateful incident which ironically makes two teenage rivals named Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders become friends.Another case includes a friend helping another through arduous dilemmas, like whether to pursue a destined career.Two conflicting fathers regarding religious beliefs, ways of raising their children and dramatic situations add more realism to the remarkable novel.
Also, historical actions provoke insight toward the people living in that time period.One of the greatest strengths of the book involves the somber reactions of the people regarding President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death.Religious debates between Jewish sects over the development of a holy state, the radio broadcasts of the progress of World War II, and the aftermath of the Holocaust are among the other topics covered.
Although the first chapter drags with many descriptions about the two competing teams and mostly the same dialogue retold, like Davey Cantor constantly referring to Danny's team as "murderers," the rest of the chapters redeem the novel.The second chapter commences the novel's comeback by introducing a great minor character; the comical yet unlucky boxer named Tony Savo, who acts like a mellow version of MacMurphy from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."The novel "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok provides a variety of issues regarding the irony of relationships and memorable occasions that charm the reader. ... Read more


14. Davita's Harp: A Novel
by Chaim Potok
Hardcover: Pages (1985)

Asin: B000JCAUCC
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15. I Am the Clay
by Chaim Potok
Mass Market Paperback: 256 Pages (1993-12-04)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.45
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0449221385
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
"Potok writes powerfully about the suffering of innocent people caught in the cross-fire of a war they cannot begin to understand....Humanity and compassion for his characters leap from every page."
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
As the Chinese and the army of the North sweep south during the Korean War, an old peasant farmer and his wife flee their village across the bleak, bombed-out landscape. They soon come upon a boy in a ditch who is wounded and unconscious. Stirred by possessiveness and caring the woman refuses to leave the boy behind. The man thinks she is crazy to nurse this boy, to risk their lives for some dying stranger. Angry and bewildered, he waits for the boy to die. And when the boy does not die, the old man begins to believe that the boy possesss a magic upon which all their lives depend....
... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars I Am the Clay
This is a riveting, well-paced book.It is a terrific study of human behavior, especially in the concern for another in need under dire circumstances.It is also an excellent portrayal of what occured behind the headlines in horror of the Korean War as the South was being overrun by the Chinese.Reading this story stimulated many emotional feelings, i.e. compassion, love, sadness, disgust.I hope Chaim Potok writes a sequel.I want to know happens to the central figure of the story as he goes on with his life.

3-0 out of 5 stars Journey Without End
The old man and the old woman, along with countless other refugees from the Korean War are struggling to survive when they pick up "the boy," a lad of about 11 who is seriously wounded and seems unlikely to survive. The boy is named Kim Sin Gyu, but the name is never used; all the other characters remain nameless. They struggle across a shattered landscape, scavenging wood for heat, and living on handouts from the American soldiers, wild grasses, fish and occasional small animals. Their pilgrimage is torturous, miserable, and seems never ending. That's the story in a nutshell. Eventually the long march ends, if you can read that far, but of course I won't tell you what happens. You'll have to read this one for yourself.

Chaim Potok is a great writer, and he manages to make the reader feel the misery and tedium of this unending pilgrimage. What he doesn't do quite as well is to make the characters and their culture believable. He writes this book in a rambling stream-of-consciousness style, with the point of view ever shifting between their three heads. Unlike most of his better known works, this one has nothing to do with orthodox Judaism. The author makes a cameo appearance as a Jewish army chaplain, one who seems strangely oblivious to the Koreans he's dealing with.

This is a powerful book if you can get through it, but not as good as Potok's earlier works. It's good, but not for everyone. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.

5-0 out of 5 stars triumph of the human spirit
An old Korean couple flees their village as invaders come from the north. Potok knows the glory and seaminess of human nature, and he gives it to us in his spare prose. These are scenes we know: the tension between a childless couple: "Woman, you are a roaring in my ears." Superstitious beliefs, exposed when the old woman saves a dying child who later saves them. Exploitation: in the refugee camp and later in the old couple's village, the old man is out for himself and yet has a certain affection for his woman. She is captured from time to time humming the tune, "Have thine own way, Lord, Have thine own way." She represents the glory possible when the clay submits to the potter.

5-0 out of 5 stars I recently revisted this book, it still staggers me
I read this book when I was 13, I couldn't quite recall the plot but I there were certain images from the book that popped into my head.

The main characters are known as old man and old woman and the boy.The Chinese Army has begun its sweep South and the villagers of a Korean Village during the Korean War have become refugees. The Old Man and The Old Woman, immediately upon leaving the village find a young boy.The old woman refuses to leave the boy, she thinks of the child she lost, the old man begins to resent the boy and think that the woman is crazy.They risk their lives to save the boy, they suffer to save the boy.And when the boy does not die he returns as many kindnesses as he can upon these people who protected him and did not give up on him.

I think what moves me most is the desire to reconnect to one's humanity when the world feels as if it is spinning dangerously out of control.The are lead by their compassion and it is a remarkably moving story.

If you were to use this book with young adult readers there could be a number of topics to discuss.The tension between the man and the boy.Why do you think they do not have names.The complexity of the Old Woman.The hard side of the old man.The sacrifices made.The reason for the title.And discuss the things unsaid at the end of this powerful book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very moving
This is a beautiful, thoughtful, moving book -- perhaps not Potok's best, but very good nonetheless. ... Read more


16. The Book of Lights
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: Pages (1997-09-10)
list price: US$12.00
Isbn: 0449001148
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
Gershon Loran, a quiet rabinical student, is troubled by the dark reality around him. He sees hope in the study of Kabbalah, the Jewish bok of mysticism and visions, truth and light. But to Gershon's friend, Arthur, light means something else, the Atom bomb, his father helped create. Both men seek different a refuge in a foreign place, hoping for the same thing....


From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Book of Lights
A book of beauty and power. The story stays with you long after you have read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars kabbalah
Protagonists: Gershon Loran, a quiet seminary student who doesn't know what to do with his life; his girlfriend Karen, his room-mate Arthur Leiden (son of Charles Leidon of the atomic bomb and friend of Albert Einstein), Gershon's Kabbala teacher Jakob Keter, and his Talmudic professor Norman Malkuson. Gershon has been raised by his uncle and aunt in a run-down tenement building in Brooklyn. "Why do you stay here?" is a question he often asks of them.They are depicted as two old, broken people who live in the past.They have lost a son, Saul, in the war.
G's crisis point comes with Arthur Leiden's death in a plane crash while leaving Korea bound for Japan.G. feels more real emotion over Arthur's death than he has over anything else in his life; but, at the same time, finds himself emotionally paralyzed and unable to pray.Arthur is a man conflicted about his father's role in making the bomb, and he also finds Kyoto, Japan to be a place of incredible beauty and healing to him.

3-0 out of 5 stars Ok novel, but not Potok's best
Ever since I read my first Chaim Potok novel, he has been one of my favorite authors, but in my opinion The Book of Lights is one of Potok's weakest works.It lacks the compelling storyline and easy flow of The Chosen or My Name is Asher Lev.The two main characters, Gershon and Arthur, seem to change abruptly when the novel switches from their years sharing a dorm to their years serving in the army.There is little transition in these changes, and it left me feeling as if this book was actually about two completely different pairs of people, rather than one pair of friends that grew and changed.Additionally, the inner conflict and mental ramblings of Arthur did not ring true for me, and I found those sections of the book hard to get through.Despite this, Potok still creates an enjoyable and moving novel; it's just not up to the standards of the rest of his books.If you are a Potok fan, this is a must read, but for someone who has never read him, I'd strongly urge starting out with almost any of his other books.

5-0 out of 5 stars An ideal fiction
This book includes incredible amount of life stories, history, mystic, geography, philosophy and psychology in such compact intensity, that you can really compare it with an atomic bomb. Entertaining and educational. Definitely recommended

5-0 out of 5 stars This book just sucked me in.
This is my second favorite Potak novel.My favorite is "The Gift of Asher Lev".

I had a slow time starting this story, but it didn't take long for me to be drawn into the setting and the story and the characters.Soon I was living inside this novel -- watching every scene with rapt attention.

Potok has a way of making me not only think, but to feel deeply.This is one of his most intuitive novels, so I was able to feel this story to the innermost part of my bones. ... Read more


17. THE CHOSEN
by CHAIM POTOK
Hardcover: 284 Pages (1967)
-- used & new: US$99.00
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: B000NSMMSW
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Satisfied...again!
I love getting books in the mail.I got it after forgetting I ordered it.Awesome...nice and used...Sarah Porter, thank you for writing your name inside the front cover.

Seriously, great book...inspired to buy it after watching an episode of "Lost."

4-0 out of 5 stars HS Student Reviews
The Chosen by Chaim Potok was never excited or intense in its events that took place in the story of Reuven's and Danny's lives together.However, so many things can be learned from the story that make up for the lack of action.Potok embedded messages in this story through the way Reuven changed and looked at things differently as he matured and grew older.Potok displayed a situation in which Danny was torn between pleasing his fatherand doing what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.The Jewish culture is a mystery t the majority of readers, and Reuven'sand Danny's lives would seem strange to most, but the general situations of decision making and continuous maturation lead to many similarities between everyone and these two boys.The Chosen was thrilling not for action, but for all the knowledge one gains from it in Jewish culture and history, and what everyone around the world shares.

I think that overall The Chosen was an informative book to read.It not only teaches about different religious faiths and views in our world, but it also goes through the lessons of growing up.Both main and minor charactersin the story contribute to the lessons taught in the novel.It teaches forgiveness, freedom, and most importantly, acceptance.The novel goes through the lives of two young Jewish boys, and shows that through the story their lives are changed by one another.In addition to important live lessons shown, it teaches the level of destructiveness that can be caused by lies and secrecy.Through the course of the novel, you witness both characters maturing and becoming different, and it causes you yourself to think of your own life, because it's easy to relate to the varied conflicts.The Chosen is worth reading because you learn and you relate.

The Chosen is a very interesting, if a little slow, novel.The main characters are both Jewish, but the novel appeals to a wide audience beyond Judaism, because of its universal themes of family, friendship, secrecy, and understanding others.The story is about two friends, Danny and Reuven, who come from very different branches of Judaism.Due to their families different viewpoints, their friendship is pulled a part, but they are gradually reunited.Throughout this plot, the reader can learn many different lessons, such as loyalty to a friend, especially when that friend is in through, and understanding others' points of view.The Chosen's lack of female characters was a weak point, but overall it is a pretty good book.

The Chosen is a novel that revolves around two adolescent boys, Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter, who are a part of Jewish society though they differ in their specific faiths.This book is filled with lessons to be learned and information about the Jewish faith and the Zionist movement that anyone can benefit from.The themes of friendship, secrecy, acceptance, tradition, and angst all play pivitol roles in the maturation of the two characters.Specifically, Danny learns that he has a right to live his own life despite growing up in an extremely tradition-based household. Reuven learns to accept different methods of teaching and thinking, despite the fact that he doesn't agree with them.The absence of female characters is inconsequential in the plot because they do not have a dominant role in the Jewish society.There are many minor characters met a long the way as well who all convey a certain message that Reuven and Danny can benefit from.Overall, The Chosen is a novel that will teach one to open his/her eyes to the differences in the world and they can help positively shape our lives.
We are all very prejudiced.We judge each person by what they look like, what they sound like, and where they come from.This book destructs all of our prejudiced ideas when two boys of the most prestigious groups of Jews become friends.Their friendship is continuously strong through all of the bonds that are broken by the rules of their religion.It teaches life lessons concerning family life, and facing your deepest fears.It had a strong plot and reading what helpful in learning more about the Jewish religion that caused Reuven and Danny so much trouble.Every family has problems, and without pushing away the strong iron gates of secrecy is unable to reach mutual understanding or resolution, which slowly breaks apart the family they thought they new.
The Chosen by Chaim Potok is a book about friendship, conflicts, and the clashing of two worlds that are similar but different.It contains lots of information concerning Judaism to help the non-Jewish reader understand what is happening.It is a book where secrecy abounds and the characters are often hurt as a result of this secrecy.Overall, The Chosen contains many good lessons about friendship and accepting others.This book, while not my favorite read, was gripping at times and is a good read for older readers.
Chaim Potok's novel, The Chosen, was a narration appeals to both the young and the old, by the means of eloquent lessons Potok preaches.It is the story of two teen age boys, Reuven and Danny, who find that even though they live in radically different worlds, they have more in common than they know.The book accompanies the adversity faced in adolescence, with the rich Jewish heritage shared by both boys.The novel seems more real than other fabricated fiction because it speaks to all of us.It focuses on humanistic qualities that we are often blind to in own lives.Life, we realize at the completion of the novel, is something that is fleeting.We are faced with choices and those choices drastically affect our lives.But, what if we were "chosen" and we didn't have a choice?How would you choose to live?The lessons you learn after reading are life-altering, but the quality of the book is determined by how you receive those lessons.
The Chosen is a great book for everyone. Chaim Potok created a miraculous story about friendship, secrecy, and differences.Although both protagonists, Danny and Reuven, are Jewish it does not affect the overall comprehension of the story.This bildungsroman has a powerful and inspirational plot that relates to everyone.It displays the true meaning of friendship and what being a friend means.Even the minor characters instill hope in the reader, and teach moral life lessons, like not taking things for granted.This book reveals inner turmoil that is present in everyone. The Chosen also helps give insight on the Jewish religion.Throughout the maturation of Danny and Reuven, the reading audience matures too, learning life lessons valuable to everyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gift Classic
This is one of my favorite books of all time.I have read this prize winning classic every so often since I was first exposed to it in an advanced English class during my senior year in high school (1974-75).I have read all of Mr. Potok's fictional novels and this one is one of his two best--the other is his `In the Beginning.'This book is enjoyable reading for anyone of high school age or older.

The book is about the culture clash between two brilliant, young men of the Jewish faith who become life-long friends.For those of us not of the Jewish faith, this is an interesting portrayal of the Hasidicculture.The portrayal of the young men's brilliance is fascinating because not many high school students read the basic works of Sigmund Freud or Russell and Whitehead's `Principle Mathematica'--especially for me since I love to read about brilliant folks and learning to know what makes them tick and act the way they do even in a fictional depiction.The unique relationship is shown from the time of World War II, the creation of the state of Israel, and their graduation from seminary and emergence into manhood.

I cannot recommend this book more highly!I have given this book as a gift to many people and have been told they all enjoyed it.Enjoy this classic.
... Read more


18. THE CHOSEN
by Chaim Potok
Paperback: 271 Pages (1968)

Asin: B000EGH42M
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

19. The Chosen; a Novel
by chaim potok
 Paperback: 271 Pages (1967)

Asin: B000O5HIH4
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars beautifully written
It was a rare treat.A novel without kitschy romance or sex.I couldn't put it down and hated for it to end.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent story
This is an excellent story, and I feel it's probably a good insight into the religiously sincere culture of Jew family life.

I'm looking forward to reading more by this author. ... Read more


20. My Name Is Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok
 Hardcover: Pages

Asin: B001003BR8
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

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