* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project
The Chosen By Chaim Potok “… my mother is a descendant of a great Hasidic dynasty and my father was a Hasid, so I come from that world." Chaim Potok Born: Herman Harold Potok ,February 17, 1929 in Brookln, N.Y. Parents: Benjamin Max (d. 1958) and Mollie (Friedman) Potok (d.1985). Father emigrated from Poland to the U.S. in 1921 and sold stationery before the Depression and was a jeweler afterward. Childhood: the son of Polish immigrants who had strong ties to Hasidism and was reared in an Orthodox Jewish home. "I grew up. . .in a Hassidic world without the beard and the earlocks." (NY Times 1/3/88) Siblings: Brother became a rabbi, both sisters married rabbis. Hasidism • The modern Hasidic movement originated in Poland in the late 18th Century. It is now the strictest of the Jewish denominations. • Hasidim wanted to protect Judaism from becoming too modernized, so they kept their communities more separate than did other Orthodox Jews. • After reading Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited when he was a teenager, Potok decided to become a writer. • Potok started writing fiction at the age of 16. • His first submission was to the Atlantic Monthly at the age of 17 (the piece was not published but Potok received a complimentary note from an editor asking if he was writing a novel). • Riveted by the world of upper-class British Catholics that Waugh brings to life in the novel, Potok realized for the first time that fiction had the power "to create worlds out of words on paper." • To learn how to write, Potok carefully studied the novels of such writers as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain. Over a period of five years, he spent most of his free time reading the novels of great writers. • At the same time, he became fascinated by less restrictive Jewish doctrines, particularly the Conservative movement. Conservative Judaism • The name derives from the idea that the movement would be necessary to conserve Jewish traditions in the U.S., a culture in which Reform and Orthodoxy were not believed to be viable. • Conservative Judaism attempts to combine a positive attitude toward modern culture with a commitment to Jewish observance. • Conservative Judaism believes that scholarly study of Jewish texts indicates that Judaism has constantly been evolving to meet the needs of the Jewish people in varying circumstances. Potok’s Education: • He attended Yeshiva University and graduated summa cum laude in English literature in 1950. • He attended Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was ordained a Conservative rabbi. • Potok served as combat chaplain with the United States Army in Korea from 1955 to 1957. • He taught at several Jewish colleges before moving on to become the managing editor of Conservative Judaism in 1964. • After spending a year in Israel,Potok earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. • Throughout his career in publishing, Dr. Potok wrote numerous popular articles and reviews. His books: • Potok began his career as an author and novelist in 1967 with the publication of The Chosen, which stands as the first book from a major publisher to portray Orthodox Judaism in the United States. • It is a story about the friendship between the son of a Hasidic rabbi and a more secularly-minded Jewish boy in Brooklyn. • Critics praised the book for its vivid rendering of the closed Hasidic community, while many considered it to be an allegory about the survival of Judaism. Orthodox Judaism • Orthodox Jews follow the commandments of the Torah strictly. • Orthodox Judaism believes that both the Written and Oral Torah are of divine origin, and represent the word of God. • This is similar to the view of the Conservative movement, but the Orthodox movement holds that such information is the exact word of God and does not represent any human creativity or influence Rabbi • The word rabbi originates from the Hebrew meaning "teacher." • The term usually refers to those who have received ordination and are educated in matters of halacha (Jewish law). • The state gives rabbis the permission to perform weddings. • The purpose of a rabbi is like that of using a judge or a lawyer in civil matters to ensure that the law is complied with. • This differs from the nonJewish concept of a minister having some necessary mystical connection with God that is required to make the ceremony valid. • Potok followed The Chosen with a sequel two years later called The Promise. He returned to the subject of Hasidism for a third time with the 1972 novel My Name is Asher Lev, the story of a young artist and his conflict with the traditions of his family and community. Potok followed this novel with a sequel, as well, publishing The Gift of Asher Lev eighteen years later in 1990. • Chaim Potok died July 23, 2002, at his suburban Philadelphia home of brain cancer at the age of 73. He is survived by his wife, Adena; two daughters, Rena, a Philadelphiaarea college professor, and Naama, an actor in New York; a son, Akiva, who is a filmmaker in California; and two grandchildren. Setting of the Novel: • The Chosen is set in Brooklyn, New York during the 1940’s. • WWII has been raging since 1939. The US, following the bombing of its naval base in Pearl Harbor, had already been drawn into the war. • Most Americans, including the deeply religious Jews who lived in a somewhat isolated manner in Brooklyn, were in some way affected by the war effort. • Brooklyn is one of New York City’s five boroughs, or sections. It is home to more than two million people. • The borough of Brooklyn is characterized by long blocks of row houses and tree-lined streets. • In the middle of Brooklyn is Prospect Park, which is designed so that its features look bigger than they really are. • Coney Island, whose beaches are still popular with New Yorkers in the summer, is located at the southern end of Brooklyn. • Many Jewish immigrants came to Brooklyn in the 1880’s to escape persecution in Germany and eastern Europe. They founded enduring communities such as Williamsburg, where The Chosen is set. • Many of the Jews living in Williamsburg are Hasidic. • On Friday evenings, large groups of Hasidim clothed in black overcoats and furtrimmed hats make their way to the synagogues off Bedford Avenue. Hasidism in the novel… • Hasidic leaders, called Tzaddiks, gained great power over their people – a power they then passed on to their sons. • Reb Saunders’s character in The Chosen is based on the image of such a leader. • Today, Hasidic men dress as did their Hasidic ancestors in eastern Europe. • Many Hasidim also speak Yiddish, a folk language that evolved in eastern Europe. WWII and the novel… • The invasion of Europe, which Rueven and others follow so carefully, was a huge operation. • An enormous military force gathered in England—including American, Canadian, and British soldiers. • The Germans had some idea that an Allied invasion was coming and built a wall of protection and defensive artillery along the French coast Invasion of Normandy Invasion of Normandy: D Day • The invasion, which took place on June 6, 1944, was a combined air and sea assault on five different beaches in Normandy, France. While the battles were incredibly costly, the Allies succeeded. Theis operation was named Operation Overlord but is commonly called D day. It marked the beginning of the end of World War II. So now you know… • Over the years, different branches of Judaism have emerged. • These branches include the Orthodox and the Conservative Jews. • Hasidism is a division of the Orthodox branch. • Conservatism combines modern culture with traditional Jewish observances. • Potok writes about two boys, one Hasidic and one conservative, who become friends in spite of their differences. But did you know… • Judaism is one of the oldest of the world’s religions. • Judaism has much in common with the religions that grew out of it: Islam and Christianity. All three faiths teach that God is a guide and ultimately a judge. All three faiths have a day of rest and worship, which for Jews is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. • Three texts are considered holy in the Jewish tradition: the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, and the Talmud. • Christians refer to the Hebrew Bible as the Old Testament. • Except in Israel, where Hebrew is the main language, most modern Jews speak the language of the nation where they live.