"The Chosen" is a 1967 novel written by Chaim Potok. The novel revolves around the main character, Reuven Malter and his friendship with a boy named Danny Saunders. Both boys are Orthodox Jews who live in Brooklyn, New York during the mid-1940's. Danny's father is a Hasidic religious leader called a tzaddik. When Danny and Reuven first meet in high school, they are on opposing teams in a … [Read more...]
Chaim Potok was born on February 17th, 1929 in Buffalo, New York. Chaim was his Hebrew name, his English name being Herman Harold. Both of Potok's parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland, and he was the oldest of four children. All of his siblings either became rabbis or married them.
Chaim was raised in the Orthodox Jewish tradition and decided to become a writer after reading the novel "Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh. At the age of 16, he began writing fiction and made his first submission to a magazine the following year.
At the age of 20, he was published in the literary magazine at Yeshiva University, and the next year he graduated with a BA in English Literature. After school, Potok went on to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary of American and was later made a Conservative rabbi. He was then appointed as the director of a fellowship program for youths.
Potok met his wife, Adena Sara Mosevitzsky at a camp in Ojai, California while working with the youth program and the two married on June 8th, 1958, going on to have three children together.
Potok received a masters degree in English Literature in the 1950's and then enlisted in the US Army to serve as a Chaplin. He was sent to South Korea during the Korean War where he served for two years. After the war was over, Potok became a faculty member at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, California. A year later he began graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1963, he traveled to Israel for one year where he wrote his doctoral dissertation and began working on a novel. In 1964, after moving back to New York, he became the editor of 'Conservative Judaism' a Jewish magazine. He became the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society and received a doctorate in Philosophy. In 1967, he finished his novel and published it. "The Chosen" was critically praised and was nominated for the National Book Award. Two years later, Potok wrote a sequel called 'The Promise' which was published in 1969.
Potok went on to publish 17 more works of fiction and non-fiction in his life time and working with the Jewish Publication Society. During the 1970's, he spent time translating the Hebrew Bible into English. Also during this time, Potok moved to Jerusalem with his family, returning to the States in 1977.
In 1981, "The Chosen" was adapted into a movie that won an award at the World Film Festival. It was also adapted into a stage play that Potok wrote himself with the help of Aaron Posner. The play premiered in 1999. He continued to write and publish novels throughout the 80's and 90's.
In 2001, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Potok died the following year on July 23rd, 2002 at the age of 73.