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The Promise

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  10,538 Ratings  ·  487 Reviews
“A superb mirror of a place, a time, and a group of people who capture our immediate interest and hold it tightly.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

Young Reuven Malter is unsure of himself and his place in life. An unconventional scholar, he struggles for recognition from his teachers. With his old friend Danny Saunders—who himself had abandoned the legacy as the chosen heir to
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 8th 2005 by Anchor (first published 1969)
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Sep 08, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those seeking to reconcile religion with modernity.
Recommended to John by: My sweet mom.
For all those struggling through religious issues (especially my LDS friends) -- this book will put so much into perspective.

This book explains everything. And it has the potential to change a great deal.

I cannot recommend highly enough.
Feb 22, 2016 Mike rated it really liked it
(Some spoilers for The Chosen follow)

Once again Potok delivers a very nuanced and human story that takes place during a time of flux for America and the Jewish community (though its message transcends sectarian bounds). This book is a continuation of The Chosen and follows Reuven and Danny as they begin to enter their respective professional sphere: Danny in psychology and Reuven in Talmudic studies on the path to become a rabbi. They remain close, if busy, friends. America, however, is very dif
Dec 06, 2007 Tora rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, americana
I thought The Chosen couldn't be beat, but this one did it. Chaim Potok draws you into the lives of the characters; Reuven's internal struggle to figure out just "what kind" of Jew he is while still remaining true to the faith he learned from his father, Danny's empathy with Michael's suffering and his desire to prove that choosing psychology was the right thing to do... but most of all it is tragic to see how much humans tear each other apart - in this book it's between Hasidic and other Orthod ...more
Oct 15, 2015 Poiema rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-interest
I love, love, love Chaim Potok's writing. He has a depth that begs slow digestion and his ability to portray the evolution of cultural thought is pure genius. He uses Jewish culture as his backdrop, but the hardening of old positions vs. the embracing of new ideas is a theme that holds universal application.

This novel is a continuation of a previous novel, The Chosen. It is a story of the unlikely friendship between 2 young Jews from Brooklyn (1940s). Unlikely, because they are from two very d
Sep 18, 2008 Reshma rated it really liked it
I read this book immediately after I read The Chosen. As a sequel, the reader expects from The Promise "more of the same" or even less. While the novel is not as deep thematically and symbolically as the first book, it maintains the warmth and genuineness of The Chosen. I read this book becasue I fell in love with the main characters, Danny and Reuven. The Promise is again written from the point of view of Reuven, but seems to talk less about Danny and more about the newly introduced characters. ...more
Dec 15, 2012 Trace rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-booklist
I'm trying to be more selective when dishing out 5 star ratings... really, I am. But this book truly deserves every one of these 5 stars!
And I'm going to be hard pressed to explain exactly WHY! Chaim Potok is such a brilliant author and his writing is SO very elegant and layered but try as I might, I cannot put a finger on PRECISELY why his books are so special...

It deals with some topics I find distasteful (I do not like what happened to poor Michael for instance) and I WANTED to deduct stars
Shaimaa Ali
Dec 09, 2012 Shaimaa Ali rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I wanted to write a long review on this marvelous novel ..However I think I won't find enough words to describe my admiration!

This is the sequel of Potok's novel "The Chosen" Which I didn't think anything can beat it , We have the same old characters beside lots of other new scholars and their families.
Potok continues drawing his characters that you feel you already can see & feel them , his major strength point in writing is the dialogue between characters and the description of places &am
Jul 16, 2010 Christina rated it it was amazing
upon rereading (the chosen) for about the third time and reading the sequel (the promise) for the first time, i think chaim potok is now one of my favorite authors. a great storyteller. with seemingly simple sentences and straightforward descriptions, draws us into reuven and danny's world: a time and place and religion: brooklyn, world war i and ii, orthodox judaism. books that many may not pick up for the synopsis alone, but the stories resonate because they are really about friendship (how di ...more
Flavia Gaia
Jan 21, 2012 Flavia Gaia rated it it was amazing
The Promise is a novel written by Chaim Potok and published as a sequel to The Chosen, published two years earlier. It was originally published by Alfred A. Knopf in New York. Although not quite as impressive as The Chosen, The Promise is still laudable, skillfully woven to a depth which many modern books tend to lack.
The Chosen takes place in Brooklyn, New York, amongst the various Jewish sects which resided there in the 1940’s. The book begins with Reuven Malter, a Jewish student and son of pr
Amy Edwards
Jan 03, 2014 Amy Edwards rated it really liked it
In The Promise, a follow-up to The Chosen, we catch up with Reuven Malter as he is continuing his graduate education in the 1950s Jewish community of New York. While The Chosen focused on Reuven's life-altering friendship with Danny as the two boys found their way to manhood, The Promise deals with the clash of belief and unbelief, tradition and secularism, Orthodoxy and unorthodoxy, and supernaturalism and naturalism that hit the post-war American Jewish community. Secularism was a rising force ...more
Apr 15, 2016 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Growing up is never easy, but for Orthodox boys in the mid-20th century, it's especially hard. The Jewish people are in turmoil after the horrors of the Holocaust, some pinning their hopes on Israel and others recoiling from it as anathema. The latter is true of Hasidic communities from Eastern Europe, fleeing both European and Soviet persecution, finding safe haven in the United States. The welcome American Jews might have given to their kin, however, is worn thin by the Hasids' swelling number ...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sequel to The Chosen follows Reuven Malter as he studies for ordination (smicha). It s the summer of 1950, 5 years after the end of World War II. On vacation, Reuven continues dating Rachel Gordon, the niece of a famous Jewish teacher and author who is considered heretical by the more traditional wing of Orthodox Jewry. Rachel, along with her 14 year old cousin Michael, is also vacationing at the same area as Reuven and his father. Rachel persuades Reuven to accompany her and and her 14 year ...more
Nola Redd
Dec 17, 2008 Nola Redd rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone willing to examine their religious standing
Recommended to Nola by: Potok
I cannot even begin to process the things I have enjoyed or picked up from this book. I marked several passages as I read that were especially thought provoking, but that doesn't even begin to cover the entirety of the novel.

I honestly felt like I shortchanged "The Promise." When I read "The Chosen," I did so with a pen and paper, taking notes, and I took so much from it. With "The Promise," I was more casual in my reading, didn't take any notes, and my understanding really suffered. I'm going t
Jan 04, 2015 Tamara rated it really liked it
I've long had complex feelings about my Judaism. I am a Conservative Jew, and was very observant during my childhood and adolescence. I grew away from my religion for several years, but over the past year or so, I have begun to recommit to it. My mother converted to Judaism before marrying my dad. It shouldn't, but it's always given me an inferiority complex among my fellow Jews.

The Promise, like The Chosen, highlights the inter-religious discord among Jews. We follow along with Reuven's studies
Jul 25, 2012 Yuce rated it really liked it
This was the second book that I read from Potok. I liked the well known the Chosen but not as much as I liked the Promise. I highly recommend reading the Chosen before reading the Promise as you get a better and more coherent picture in the Promise.

As someone who is interested in New Testament textual, form, redaction and now narrative criticism, I've found some of the discussions that Reuven Malter has with his professors quite interesting but I fear that for other people some of the intricaci
Jun 29, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, usa, jewish
This one continues the story started in The Chosen. Reuven and Danny are still friends, each of them is pursuing graduate work - Danny in psychology and Reuven studying at the Yeshiva for his ordination. The story opens during August while Reuven and his father are on vacation at a lake. Reuven is dating Rachel and he takes Rachel and her cousin Michael to a fair. It doesn't take long to realize that Michael has some mental issues which make life difficult. Because of those issues, Michael is a ...more
Apr 08, 2015 Alicia rated it really liked it
I loved following the characters from The Chosen, as I learned more about Jewish culture and history (plus some psychology). I still love the wisdom of Mr. Malter.


"'Little children little troubles, big children big troubles,' he murmured in Yiddish." -p. 129

"'You understand what it is to make a choice, Greenfield? A choice tells the world what is most important to a human being. When a man has a choice to make he chooses what is most important to him, and that choice tells the world what
Apr 03, 2012 Sli rated it really liked it
Evo još jedne Potokove ljepotice. Lakoća kojom ovaj čovjek piše je zadivljujuća. Čitajući, mislio sam da su se riječi oblikovale i redale same od sebe. Jednostavno je gušt čitati nešto ovako tečno. Priča je još uvijek usredotočena na dvojicu prijatelja i njihove izbore i borbe. Međutim, ponešto je izgubljena ona univerzalnost koju sam osjećao čitajući prethodnika. Naravno, još uvijek postoje ozbiljne pouke koje ovdje možete naučiti i primijeniti u svome životu. Izbor je samo naš, i on se ne mora ...more
Amy Lester
Feb 08, 2009 Amy Lester rated it really liked it
I was anxious to pursue Danny and Reuven's characters in this sequel to The Chosen. After reading both books back to back, I can hardly remember where one started and the other stopped. These are not books that are fast-paced or "exciting", but you know you're encountering something of substance.

The Promise is the story of Reuven's turmoil over finding his place among Jewish fundamentalists, moderates, and liberals. Each position is well-represented by different characters and Reuven's dealings
Mary Fisher
Apr 15, 2012 Mary Fisher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have re-read this numerous times and will do again. It follows on from The Chosen and raises ongoing questions of how tradition and modernity meet. it raises wonderful insights into how process of shaping people within a tradition allows them to contribute to a larger somewhat hostile culture. The agony of conflict within family, within tradition is heightened.

It made me so aware of how conflict and inability to accept conflict can destroy. It made me ask what does it mean to be "people of the
Feb 10, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it
Potok's novel is set in the years after WWII when the bright and inquisitive minds of a new American Jewish generation clash with those of their tormented and grief-stricken elders. The former are adventurous and creative in their Talmidic studies. The latter are adamantly orthodox, their adherence to strict Biblical interpretation tempered by the blood spilled in its defense. These two generations share a love for their religion and a promise to pass on their people's traditions. But will that ...more
Samuel Lubell
Dec 06, 2015 Samuel Lubell rated it it was amazing
The Chosen gets far more attention and is probably more readable for non-Jews. But I think this sequel is the better book. It is more subtle as it balances Danny's attempts to cure the the mentally ill son of a notorious secular Jew with the story of Reuven's rabbinical studies. After the Holocaust many of the surviving ultra-Orthodox Jews move to America. They refuse to compromise on the traditions/faith/practices for which so many died. Reuven's father gets into trouble with these ultra-Orthod ...more
Sam Beer
Mar 20, 2012 Sam Beer rated it it was amazing
Potok takes on a number of paradoxes particularly prevalent in religion: What does it mean to both love and hate a person? What does it mean to honor both tradition and learning? What does it mean to be moved by both mysticism and science? What does it mean to be both the same as somebody and irreconcilably different? The book is carried by oppositions of mundanity and majesty: the plot is simple and the conflicts are small, yet somehow I found myself pulled into a world of orthodoxy and innovat ...more
Aug 06, 2016 Ami rated it really liked it
While The Promise is not as overtly symbolic or thematic as its predecessor The Chosen, it is still an exceptionally well written and nicely nuanced continuation of Reuven and Danny's story as they progress into adulthood.
The theme of silence is further developed in this sequel and the idea of "choice" comes into play as each of the characters make stands and decisions that determine how futures are shaped. Also, religious traditions war with modern progress, creating tensions and stresses in b
Dec 18, 2008 Jorgina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, theology
not sure i will finish this one, it is a hard beginning.
But well worth the struggle. An amazing book. I did not think "The Chosen" needed a sequel but, having read this, I am convinced it was very necessary. Mr. Potok's story-telling style of explaining Hebrew culture in 3 different factions of the Jewish faith added so much to this father/son conflict. The reintroduction of the rich characters was like hearing from old friends. I learned so much about child/parent relationship and could relate
Jul 14, 2011 Evelyn rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed the Chosen, so I went in to this book with high expectations. They were met. Right now, having read this book only once, the meaning has not fully sunken in; however, I do plan on rereading it after some interval. Even on this first read, it was powerful. Reuven remained, as he was in the Chosen, a thoroughly engaging viewpoint character who, as (view spoiler) says, has good manners and lots of chutzpah. Danny did not have as much screen time as I ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Anna rated it really liked it
I read someone's review prior to reading this that stated that The Promise was even better than The Chosen. It is not. It is a very good book though. It was nice to see what happened to Danny and Reuven after all the adolescent drama of The Chosen.
The same reviewer also stated that they couldn't wait to read Davita's Harp and "finish the trilogy." I read the description of Davita's Harp and it doesn't appear to have anything to do with The Chosen or The Promise, so now I am a little confused. I
Aug 01, 2010 Travis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a little disappointed with this book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but, I think my expectations were unrealistically high because of how much I loved The Chosen. This is a sequel to that book, and while interesting, I felt like it didn't ever reach that same level of dramatic pitch. I was engaged, but not riveted or amazed. But, that's okay. I have decided to read all of Potok's books, because I just really like his subject matter, and I think he is a masterful story-teller. I'm const ...more
Celeste Batchelor
May 30, 2009 Celeste Batchelor rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I did not like this book as much as The Chosen, which this book is the sequel to. There is a lot more detail about the Jewish culture and the division of the different factions after World War II. That part was just plain sad, leaving me with a feeling of discomfort at the viciousness they attacked each other. One would think that they would band together, rather than split apart after all that the Jewish culture has been through.

The most difficult time I had with this book was the treatment of
Katie Wahlquist
Jul 18, 2013 Katie Wahlquist rated it it was amazing
Oh come on! What a brilliantly beautiful book! I love all of the different views of Judaism Potok gives you in each of his novels. This one is especially interesting as he looks at the differences between Hasidic, Orthodox, and more modern views. Also a great storyline dealing with psychology and being true to yourself. A winner all around. This is a sequel to "The Chosen", but the story stands on it's own. You may just want to refresh your memory about "The Chosen" and it's characters if you ha ...more
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Herman Harold Potok, or Chaim Tzvi, was born in Buffalo, New York, to Polish immigrants. He received an Orthodox Jewish education. After reading Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited as a teenager, he decided to become a writer. He started writing fiction at the age of 16. At age 17 he made his first submission to the magazine The Atlantic Monthly. Although it wasn't published, he received a n ...more
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“It's always easier to learn something than to use what you've learned. . . . You're alone when you're learning. But you always use it on other people. It's different when there are other people involved.” 14 likes
“A choice tells the world what is most important to a human being. When a man has a choice to make he chooses what is most important to him, and that choice tells the world what kind of a man he is.” 10 likes
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