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The Chosen

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  68,645 Ratings  ·  3,249 Reviews
"Anyone who finds it is finding a jewel. Its themes are profound and universal."
It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an un
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 12th 1987 by Fawcett (first published 1967)
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Kimberly If you are looking for novels that take place during WWII I would recommend "The Hiding Place" or "Night". If you are looking for something of a…moreIf you are looking for novels that take place during WWII I would recommend "The Hiding Place" or "Night". If you are looking for something of a different genre then I would recommend Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables, Laddie, or Little Britches. (less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 16, 2008 Mads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Mads by: English teacher
This was required reading for my sophomore-year honors English class; upon reading chapter one, I prepared myself for great disappointment, firstly because the chapter was entirely about baseball (which although I’ve tried to enjoy I can’t seem to get in to, I’m sorry to say), and secondly because it was so descriptive. It was hard to imagine me being interested in something so...flowery (in some time I’ll post a review on another required reading, the oh-so-detailed Great Expectations, which ha ...more
Shayantani Das
Jan 03, 2012 Shayantani Das rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Shayantani by: Richard

I think I might actually end up fulfilling this resolution (unlike most of the others), because “the chosen” was a masterpiece.

It's a poignant story about friendship, father-son relationship, about 2 Jew families on the other side of the Zionist movement and the reaction of American Jews to the horrors of holocaust. It’s about two deeply religious boys, trying to strike a balance between modernity and their deep rooted tradit
Nov 24, 2008 Alisa rated it really liked it
Danny Saunders was raised in silence to save his soul. His father saw that his mind was so keen that his soul would be lost if there was not some awful tragedy to break his soul into a living space. So his father raised him in silence, never speaking to him until Danny learned to listen to that silence, to hear in the silence the cry of millions of his people as they were slaughtered, starved, beaten, and experimented upon by Hilter's army. It did not make Danny a rabbi, but it saved his soul in ...more
Aug 14, 2007 Radhika rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: the cast of the ringer.
i was litterally gnna shoot myself when reading this boook. i couldnt evn stand it so i decided to buy the audio version on itunes and that was even worse and cost me like 20 dolllaa. i wass like heyllll nawww im not reading dissss but den i did cuzz i kinda had too. its about a jewish nerd who gets hit in the eye when the rivalryy jewish team hits him. they dont like eachother or something i dont know. it was all downhill from there. ysaaaaa heardd???
At its core The Chosen is about the relationship between two Brooklyn boys Danny and Reuven, the world they grow up in, and their relationship with their fathers. Both are Jewish, but while they share the same faith, they belong to radically different portions of that faith. Danny is Hasidic. What's more he is the son of a Rebbe and expected to take up the mantle with the passing of his father. Reuven, on the other hand, is part of modern Orthodox Judaism and is the son of a Talmudic teacher.

Nov 20, 2015 Poiema rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-interest
The Jewish Talmud exhorts a man to do two things for himself. First, acquire a teacher. The other is to choose a friend.

Danny Saunders got the package deal when he made the acquaintance of Reuven Malter. Theirs is a Jonathan and David friendship, the two-bodies-with-one-soul type of friendship that happens rarely in a lifetime.

As the oldest son of the tzaddik (righteous leader) of a strict, Hasidic Jewish sect, Danny is the chosen. Upon the death of his father, he will be expected to step up as
Jul 05, 2007 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history, Judaism, forgiveness or friendship,
My brother Matt suggested this book, and I'm very glad that I read it. (And glad that he was there to fill me in a little more on the history it brings up.) It is very well written, and enjoyable as well as educational. It helped me better understand the Jewish faith and branches of Judaism, the horror of WWII, what is unique about American Jews, and some of the conflict over the Israel as a Jewish state. Leaves you with a warm feeling and lots to think about. "The Talmud says that a person shou ...more
Carol Brill
Apr 01, 2016 Carol Brill rated it really liked it
I was charmed by Reuven and Danny, and their ability to bridge differences to nurture their loyal friendship. That and how the author creates a strong sense of time and the orthodox Jewish culture and lifestyle in the mid 1900's engaged me.

Some parts of the book were harder for me to enjoy. I slogged through many of religious details and history and the lectures and debates.

I loved Reuven's relationship with his father. Danny's with his was hard to fathom and heartbreaking.

The non-religious his
Oct 03, 2009 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, classics
I'm really struggling with how to review this book. It was beautifully written. The relationships between Danny and Reuven and between Reuven and his father were real and touching. I enjoyed learning about different systems of Jewish faith and the interactions (or lack thereof) between their communities. The historic insights into WWII and its aftermath, particularly the realization among American Jews of the extent of the Holocaust and the formation of the state of Israel, were fascinating.

Jul 26, 2008 Paul rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fathers, sons, friends
Shelves: fiction
Well, I just finished this book last night and I must say I was deeply moved by the whole experience. I remembered there was a reason I liked it so much back in high school. I love the relationship between the two main characters, Danny and Reuven. They've reminded me that there are definite friendships that I cherish highly, and that true friends are hard to come by. But when they do, you know in your heart that you will never leave them for the rest of your life. I guess after reading this, i ...more
Melissa McShane
This book holds up so well to multiple re-readings. It's a story of friendship, of family love, of the relationships between fathers and sons, set against the background of Hasidic Judaism. This time, I'm unconvinced that raising a child in silence, as Danny's father does, will result in a compassionate child, but I am moved by Danny's struggle to be both himself and what his father and his father's followers need him to be. Reuven, the narrator, serves both as a channel for what the reader (who ...more
Mike Puma
Aug 23, 2010 Mike Puma rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007
This should be required reading for college courses in Gay Studies/Gay Literature. It is small wonder that Potok's inspiration for writing came from reading Brideshead Revisted. Reuven's narration, particularly the ways he describes Danny, is a virtual textbook case of repressed desire. This repression is consistent with one of the novel's themes: silence.

Having read this book, originally, many years ago, I did not pick up on Reuven's infatuation in the same way I've since come to recognize. In
Feb 23, 2010 Caris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, young-adult
When I told my wife I was reading a book about a Jew, she wasn’t surprised. Most of the books I suggest she read are written by Jews. Why? I don’t know, really. They make great protagonists. The tumultuous history of their people probably contributes to it quite a bit. That and they tend to be funny. Above all else, though, as a people, I think they’re extremely intelligent. The intellectual work that is required of practitioners seems to far surpass those of…well…everyone else. I mean, come on. ...more
Dec 16, 2007 Lucy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
I love how Chaim Potok is able to create a story about so many different things. There are dozens of topics within his books to discuss, enjoy and ponder, but he manages to twist and turn his story, so at its end, you get the Rubik's cube sides all neatly back to the same color.

Like My Name Is Asher Lev, which I loved, Potok writes about a Jewish boy torn between his own genius and his orthodox father's expectations. Danny Saunders, a genius boy with a photographic memory, is destined to take hi
Jul 28, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing
Re-reading in July 2015:

Review from first reading in May 2014:
What an interesting education I received from this book! I learned so much about the nuances of the Jewish faith and the challenges they faced during and after World War II. I never knew of the Jewish resistance to the Israel state. I also found myself greatly engaged and intrigued by the origins of Hassidic Judaism.

In addition to being extremely fascinating and highly educational, this book caused great reflection for my own life. W
Jun 09, 2008 Anne rated it really liked it
Think you got a great education? Follow these teenage boys as they learn about one another, their faith and their relationship with their fathers. The rigorous studying that they do is foreign to today's youth. A classic in so many ways.
Elliot Ratzman
Today I discussed this all-male book with a small group of all-male max security prisoners. They liked it, fascinated by the details of Jewish life and customs, and were eager to talk about the dynamics between fathers and sons. We had a great conversation about why the first fifth of the book is taken with a description of a baseball game. This is one of the few books I know, and certainly the most popular, that makes Talmud study sexy. One prisoner hoped that the Hasidic Danny and the Modern O ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Vivian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 26, 2016 Suzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzy by: Mia book tour
I loved this book, Potok's first, set in Brooklyn during WWII, which played in the background creating scope and a sense of urgency to a book that took place almost 100% in Brooklyn. The story is about so many things. Friendship, fathers and sons, parenting, Judaism, Jewish sects, Brooklyn, rivalries, knowledge, studying, traditions, inheritance, psychiatry, community. These are but a few of the aspects of this touching and educational book. I want to read more of Potok's books.
Jul 01, 2007 Alina rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone except immature boys
( immature boys won't be able to understand/appreciate a close and beautiful bond between two heterosexual boys)

I loved this book. I read the Asher Lev books in high school and loved them, but this was great in a whole different way. Explicit (although not too 'in your face') theme of seeing and not seeing, a view of Jewish life and culture in America during and post WWII, and beautiful/touching portrayal of many different types of relationships (with family, friends, and strangers).

The boo
Aug 29, 2007 Kelsey rated it did not like it
Vomit. I just wasn't really into it. I understood it and stuff, I just think there are better books.
Dec 04, 2008 Antof9 rated it really liked it
I read this one on a business trip in the NYC area, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's the kind of book I immediately wanted to read again once I finished, but I know I'll have another chance to read another copy ... another day :)

I'm fascinated by the writing in this book. It's compassionate, literate, educated, and also ... contains one of the best bits of sports writing I've ever read
 The second one started to come in shoulder-high, and before it was two thirds of the way to the plate, I was alr
May 02, 2008 Josh rated it did not like it
Dear Mr. Potek,

You're dead. But since you believe in an afterlife, I feel okay writing to you anyway.

Despite being a finalist for the National Book Award, written about lovingly by critics, lauded across the country and even transferred to the stage, your novel The Chosen is absolute garbage. It is a disgusting attempt to justify child abuse with good intentions and you should be deeply ashamed of yourself for it.

In your book, a father wrecks irreperable harm upon his intellectually gifted son,
Feb 24, 2015 Kirk rated it it was amazing
It's 4:30 am as I write this review and my thoughts on The Chosen. It was recommended to me by someone I highly respect, and he said that it was the most influential book he's ever read. I can't say that's the case for me, however I also can't deny that it is a very well written book about fatherhood and raising a child in different religions. It's a book that unless you think deeper and read between the lines may not have any significance to an you.

I grew to love the characters and wished I co
Megan Olsen
Jul 20, 2014 Megan Olsen rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece. As a member of a religion with varying levels of orthodoxy, and with a range of opinions regarding our place in the world, I found this work incredibly relevant to me, both as a member of a larger religious community and on a personal level. The Latter-day Saint religion shares many similarities with the Jews, including a history of persecution, traditionally insular communities, and an identity tied inseparably to our past. Reuben and Daniel's experiences in grappling with a doct ...more
Shaimaa Ali
Oct 14, 2012 Shaimaa Ali rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A deep novel, it has been ages since i felt that joy of such conversations between its characters !!
I started reading it based on a recommendation from a friend while i'm already biased! This is a Jewish writer ,, the novel tackle in one of its parts how Israel has started, etc,,, But I tried to control my feelings regarding those points and concentrate on the novel's dilemma, Different methods to raise children in an irreligious environment. I also learnt about different types of Jewish sects &
Nov 01, 2007 Christine rated it it was amazing
Also try The Promise, Davita's Harp, and the Asher Lev books. I first read these when I was younger, and I still read them over and over. The relationships in these books are quiet and beautiful, and the stories have a real depth of emotion. Read Chaim Potok now!

However, some people feel differently about this book:

Radhika rated it: 08/14/07

bookshelves: thecrapfrommatergayyyy

recommends it for: the cast of the ringer.

i was litterally gnna shoot myself when reading this boook. i couldnt evn st
Jul 11, 2008 Dana rated it it was amazing
I should really give this book five stars. I am just not feeling that generous today, but it is deserving of five stars IMO. Though I read this over four years ago, I continue to think in the reserves of my little brain about the juxtaposition of the two fathers, and their parenting styles. Read the book and then let's discuss: the use of Silence as a teaching tool and as an entire concept to contemplate. How much cruelty can we assign to silence? Is it a choice made out of wisdom at times? Or s ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Oct 25, 2015 Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: thinking people
I can't believe I forgot to even list this. I won't write a "review" as such, since I've read it so many times it is part of my inner fabric, to the place that I'm not sure I can really make sense about it unless you have too. I will say it's a classic in the real sense--a book that repays repeated reading. It taught me a great deal about Bible study in my own life: "Grammar, we need yet!" Yes, we do. Even reading an English/Spanish/French Bible, paying attention to the words and structures used ...more
Mar 28, 2008 Werner rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in serious fiction
Shelves: general-fiction
The central theme of The Chosen is the possible difference between our inherited religious tradition vs. the genuine will of God for our lives; and its central moral question is, how far (if at all) do we have an obligation to let the former define who we can become? Both boys in the book have to grapple with this; it's most obvious for Danny, "chosen" from infancy to succeed his father as a rabbi of the super-orthodox Hasidim, with their almost medieval traditions (a role he's not at all cut ou ...more
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Play Book Tag: The Chosen by Chaim Potok - 5 stars 5 11 Aug 02, 2016 07:26PM  
The value of silence? 11 200 Jul 25, 2015 08:26PM  
What do you think about Reb Saunders method of teaching his son, Danny? 14 63 Dec 12, 2014 10:26AM  
What to read next? 17 83 Oct 27, 2014 09:30PM  
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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...

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“I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.” 2305 likes
“Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye?

I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.

It is hard work to fill one's life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here.”
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