Sunday, July 5, 2015
The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
Read and reviewed in April, 2014
An excellent little novel (270 pages) that packs so much into it! Very well written, captured me from the first chapter, a softball game between two Jewish schools in which Danny injures the protoganist's, Reuven's right eye. It encompasses so much, particularly father-son relationships . Danny and Reuven become best friends although Reuven and his father are orthodox and Danny's family is Hasidic. The differences between parenting styles is emphasized throughout. Reuven's father is a wise and gentle counselor to his son, even in poor health and caught up in his work (a professor) and pro-Zionist speeches. Danny's father uses silence as a tool to guide his son, forcing him to look inward for guidance. The only times he talks to Danny is when they are studying Talmud together.
The book also delves extensively into Jewish history, especially that concerning the Hasidic branch of Judaism. Other significant historical events were World War II, the Holocaust, and the Zionist movement and eventual establishment of the new state of Israel.
Of particular interest to me was Reuven's emotions when he learned of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt:
"...Davey Cantor burst into the room, looking as though he was crying, and shouted breathlessly that someone had just told him President Roosevelt was dead. ... everyone turned and gaped at him in total astonishment. ... I stared at him and felt myself slide slowly back onto my desk. I found myself in a sudden cold sweat. ... I didn't believe it. Until I got to the street. ... No one on the trolley was talking. It was crowded and it became more crowded as it went along, but there was only the silence inside."
It reminded me of President Kennedy's assassination, the silence in the school halls, the shock and unbelief written on every face I saw.
This is a book that will stay with me a long time, in my heart, but it is available for release through Bookcrossing.