Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Promise” as Want to Read:
The Promise
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Promise

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  9,253 ratings  ·  418 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Promise, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Promise

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  SmithBreakfast at Tiffany's by Truman CapoteExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Tales of New York City
62nd out of 919 books — 877 voters
The Chosen by Chaim PotokThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonMy Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim PotokSophie's Choice by William Styron
Jews in Literature
21st out of 457 books — 246 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Oct 23, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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
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
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
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
Flavia Gaia
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
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
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
Wow, I forgot how much I love Chaim Potok. The last book I read of his, the painfully lugubrious Gift of Asher Lev, kind of colored my memories of his other books, making me forget their beautiful symbolism and character work and emphasizing their poor pacing and multitude of solitary, ponderous walks. But he has risen from the ashes in my mind. This book is rife with with what makes him so memorable; he marries what initially seems to be a niche struggle and ends up making powerful, universal s ...more
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
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
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
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
Mary Fisher
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
Jill Holmes
Chaim Potok is well beyond brilliant. My admiration for him soars with each book I discover. In "The Promise", two friends take different paths through Judaism and life and are able to enrich themselves and others through the efforts they apply in their work and studies and through their gifted minds and wise hearts. The story takes place in the mid-1950's, and many of the older characters are haunted by having survived the Holocaust when so many of their families, friends, students, and complet ...more
Joyce Lagow
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
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
Amy Lester
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
Nola Redd
Dec 17, 2008 Nola Redd rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
Sam Beer
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
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
Aug 10, 2014 John rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to John by: Christina Samson
Yet another book by Chaim Potok that I wish I had read 35 years ago. This is a profound and heartfelt novel. A truly meaningful novel. I found the subject matter very interesting. Beyond the subject matter, You can't help but to relate it to the inner struggle we all go through in our lives. This is a book that will remain with you forever.
I enjoyed this sequel to The Chosen, although I liked The Chosen better. This book made me look closely within myself to discover what I believe and why-this book helped me to see how different religions answer life questions. A very thought provoking read on many different topics and ideas.
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
Anna Bueller
I was outraged to find out that Chaim Potok DIDN'T write a sequel where Reuven and Danny end up making love.

Don't even bother reading this book it just makes children cry and men go to war.

What a waste.
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
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
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
the chosen & the promise 1 37 Mar 03, 2008 02:26AM  
  • As a Driven Leaf
  • Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories
  • In My Father's Court
  • The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man
  • World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made
  • Souls on Fire
  • Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History
  • The Outside World
  • The Joys of Yiddish
  • Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet
  • The Romance Reader
  • The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch
  • The Brothers Ashkenazi
  • The Jew in the Lotus
  • Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism
  • Inside, Outside
American author and rabbi. Herman Harold Potok was born in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants from Poland.

His parents, Benjamin Max (d. 1958) and Mollie (Friedman) Potok (d. 1985), gave him a Hebrew name, Chaim Tzvi. His Orthodox education taught him Talmud as well as secular studies.

He decided to become a writer as a teenager, after reading Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
More about Chaim Potok...
The Chosen My Name Is Asher Lev The Gift of Asher Lev Davita's Harp In the Beginning

Share This Book

“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.” 12 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.” 6 likes
More quotes…