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The chosen : a novel by Chaim Potok

The chosen : a novel (original 1967; edition 2003)

by Chaim Potok

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5,949831,093 (4.14)286
Set in New York toward the end of WWII, this is the story of two teenage Jewish boys, one the son of a Zionist, the other of a Russian Hassidic. They turn to each other in a fine show of male bonding.
Title:The chosen : a novel
Authors:Chaim Potok
Info:New York: Ballantine Books, [2003]
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, novel, judaism

Work details

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (1967)

  1. 10
    Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Both books explore the relationship between fathers and sons within a context of deep religious faith.
  2. 01
    Slavernes skibe by Thorkild Hansen (WorldreaderBCN)

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» See also 286 mentions

English (81)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (83)
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
This was recommended by a friend - she does like intense books. What I liked about it was the peek into the world of orthodox Jews in the 1940s through the story of friendship between two boys and the story of their relationships with their fathers. It was also a history lesson about the birth of Israel. It's heavy and emotional, perhaps a little over the top for me. It's also personally hard to appreciate a story where the women are all but invisible. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders have both grown up in the Orthodox Jewish community of 1940s Brooklyn, but had never met: Danny’s father’s position as leader of a Russian Hasidic sect and Reuven’s father’s more progressive approach means that they do not move in the same circles. But when Reuven’s eye is badly injured by a ball hit by Danny during a baseball game, initial enmity develops into a surprising ongoing friendship, one that is tested as Danny struggles with his father’s expectations that he will follow in his footsteps to become the new leader of the sect after his father’s death. The book follows their friendship to the end of the Second World War and beyond, when the formation of the State of Israel, vehemently opposed by Danny’s father and vehemently advocated by Reuven’s, tests their friendship to its limit...

This book introduced cultures that were completely strange to me, and finding out about how some lives were lived very differently in mid-twentieth century U.S.A. was fascinating. It also introduced baseball, which was less fascinating, and I did find the chapter describing the baseball game a struggle as I had really very little idea what was going on. I didn’t love this as much as some people seem to, but there was certainly much to think about, and I may well go on to read something else by the same author. ( )
1 vote SandDune | Feb 8, 2019 |
Chaim Potok writes about the unlikely friendship between two Jewish teens. Reuven/Bobby is a math whiz who wants to be a rabbi. Danny is Hasidic, and as the son of a tzaddik he is destined to inherit this leadership position from his father. However, Danny wants to be a psychologist. This book illustrates the deep cultural divides within the Jewish faith. It is set in the final years of the Second World War and the beginning of the post-war years, and touches on the Holocaust and Zionism. It explores the relationship between fathers and sons, and differences in parenting philosophies. It explores the nature of giftedness and the responsibility and even burden that places on parents and teachers of gifted children and teens.

One thing that struck me as I read was how considerate and courteous the characters are. For example, Reuven was in a hospital ward between an adult and a young boy. His father brought him a radio because he wasn’t allowed to read, and Reuven was very considerate about keeping the volume down and not playing the radio when it might disturb his neighbors. I can’t help wondering if consideration for others is something we’ve lost (or are in the process of losing) with society’s encouragement to stand up for our right to do whatever we want in our own space. Reuven learned to appreciate and communicate with others who held a different worldview. That gives me hope for our present time. ( )
  cbl_tn | Feb 2, 2019 |
Another fine read from Chaim Potok. I even survived the first chapter on baseball, which for someone who has absolutely no interest in sport is an achievement!

What I love in his books is there is a wealth of information about Jewish culture, so I'm learning a lot. There is a lot to think about, which I know will draw me back. First reading for me is really just getting involved with his characters.

This novel, first and foremost, is about deep friendship. And I really enjoyed watching this evolve. ( )
  Caroline_McElwee | Feb 1, 2019 |
This was a wonderful story of love, family and friendship. Set in the Jewish community of Williamsburg in Brooklyn during the waning years of WWII teenagers Reuven, a modern Orthodox Jew and Danny, a Hasidic Jew have an inauspicious meeting that leads them to their warm but certainly unusual friendship. Their fathers play a large role in the development and then the brief destruction of their friendship.

As their friendship developed the boys would spend most of the weekend studying the Talmud. The fact that teenagers would spend so much time, endless hours, studying their faith as well as their school subjects (during the week they spent most of their free time in the library) seemed unimaginable to me but I have to assume this went on at that time, in a community where their faith is the most important thing to them. It may still go on for all I know because I’m so ill-informed on the subject. At any rate, the friendship that the boys develop turns when WWII ends and the Holocaust is revealed, rocking both communities. Reuven’s father ferociously fights for the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel while Danny’s father is vehemently opposed to Zionism. This leads to a rift between the two families that takes some time to heal. It is through this healing that the love the two friends have for each other overcomes any problems they may experience.
I would’ve rated this book higher than I did but the lengthy sections devoted to the dissection of the Talmud seemed like a little too much religious dogma. I understand the role it played in the narrative but I found it dreadful, on the whole. I can’t imagine today’s high school students enjoying this part of the book.

At any rate, the story of family, love and friendship made this a very enjoyable read. ( )
2 vote brenzi | Jan 17, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Potok, Chaimprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klein, D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When a trout rising to a fly gets hooked on a line and finds himself unable to swim about freely, he begins with a fight which results in struggles and splashes and sometimes an escape. Often, of course, the situation is too tough for him.
In the same way the human being struggles with his environment and with the hooks that catch him. Sometimes he masters his difficulties; sometimes they are too much for him. His struggles are all that the world sees and it naturally misunderstands them. It is hard for a free fish to understand what is happening to a hooked one.

- Karl A. Menninger
True happiness
Consists not in the multitude of friends,
But in the worth and choice.

- Ben Jonson
To Adena
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For the first fifteen years of our lives, Danny and I lived within five blocks of each other and neither of us knew of the other’s existence.
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