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The Promise - Chaim Potok

This is Potok's 1969 follow up to his novel 'The Chosen' (see earlier review). Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter are now twenty years of age. Reuven is preparing for his final examinations to be a Rabbi and Danny has started taken his first steps into a career in psychiatry. The setting for the story is the same as the first book. Brooklyn, New York City in the late forties. In the 'The Chosen' Potok explained some of the differing ideas and levels of faith amongst Jewish people in New York. In this book set a few years after WW2, we see an even deeper divide between people of the same faith.

There are the well established jews from the first wave of mass immigration at the turn of the 20th century and then there are those who are the tramatised survivors of the Nazi death camps. People and their Rabbi's who have seen whole families in their native villages of Eastern Europe murdered in the gas chambers for no other reason than their religious beliefs, and who have in their newly adopted nation, quite understandbly, been galvanized into protecting their beliefs and faith with a zealousness that is ultra-orthodox.

As mentioned in my earlier review Potok knows his stuff. He is after all a New Yorker and was a Rabbi himself. In both of these books the writer very eloquently describes the tug of war between deep faith and practicality. Between the old world and the new. And how with understanding and patience a people can evolve through history. A great time capsule of an era detailing life, friendship, and faith from what is in my opinion the greatest city I have had the pleasure to visit. An excellent story but one which would be enjoyed more after reading the first book (The Chosen) in the Danny and Reuven saga.

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