The Chosen - Chaim PotokThis book is one of the reasons libraries are so important. As I traversed the ailses of Headingley Library last week I noticed the spine of this book. I thought to myself "what kind of name is that?" on closer research I found out that its yiddish (pronounced Haim). I read the blurb and thought I'd give it a go.
Chaim Potok was born in the twenties and was raised in New York City, was ordained a Rabbi and this was his first book published in 1967. The short but brilliant tale of two Brooklyn teenagers set towrds the end of WW2. Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders. Danny's background and faith is of the Russian ultra-orthadox Hasidim tradition and his father Reb Saunders is a well respected Rabbi. Reuven and his academic father David are from a more relaxed side of the Jewish faith. The young pair meet in one of the best opening chapters I have ever read in a book, and also one of the best in how it describes a sporting event. A junior Sunday afternoon baseball game.
The book shows us the relationships between the two boys and their fathers, how both families learn from and respect the sacred book of The Talmud, and how the two boys get ready to make their career choices and what roads they will take when leave school for adult life. It describes the horror, shock, anger, and fear that shakes both families to their core when news reports start filtering back after the end of the war about what at first appears to be the murder of a few hundred jews, which then as time progresses turns into reports about the murder of thousands of Jews, which then turns into reports about the murder and annihilation of millions of Jews. This book was not just a great read with great characters, but a very interesting insight into a religion I know very little about. This is a great New York story and one that I would highly recommend. This is the first of Potoks books I have read, but it definitely won't be the last.