Kane Keating's Reviews > The Chosen

The Chosen by Chaim Potok
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's review
Mar 02, 2008

really liked it
Recommended to Kane by: A School Teacher
Recommended for: Anyone
Read in January, 2008

** spoiler alert ** Summary: This book is about the relationship between to young boys named Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders. They form a special relationship through a nearly fatal accident playing a baseball game. Through this occurence they soon form a special relationship that shows religious value, wisdom, and culture. Reuven is a Orthodox Jew and Danny is of Russian Hasidic Jew background. Their story is of the life lessons they learn from each others worldview. Their relationship was unheard of in the Jewish commnity, due to the strong different views each family had. Through their religious differences they learn about how similar they really are, and the struggles they share. Growing up Danny always had a brilliant mind that urged him to learn more than the views of his father, a tazadik. He and his father had a special relationship growing up. His dad raised him in silence, only speaking to him during the study of the talmud. This act frustrated Danny and compelled him to learn more about the religion he could not make out. He would read many books on the history of the Jews and uses his knowledge to become more open minded about the different views on Judaism. Reuven is the character that has the ability to talk to Danny about his issues. Together they learn and attain more knowledge than anyone of their age. They soon go on to aspire to obtain their goals in life. Reuven wants to become a Rabbi, and Danny a psychologist. the rest of the story is about the issue of Danny not wanting to take the inherited spot of his father. He would rather break free from the family tradition and learn more about his interests. In the last part of the novel Danny's father excepts his chosen path and faces the reality of the outcome. This act demonstrates the breaking of silence as his dad allows his sons decision knowing he has a good head on his shoulders. It is the sign of love, affection, and understanding. This novel is a great example that Mr. Sauneders son may have not become a tazadik, but he does feel his task is complete. His son is religious with a good head, but has chosen a different path to help people in society.
Worldview Connections: The worldview connections are quite obvious with the religion involved. The content of the story is based upon the different religious sects of the Jewish community. It is based during WWII and the obvious struggles the Jewish people had to endure. Living in Brooklyn the two boys could only listen to the radio about the tragedies to their people. After the war another conflict arose about the making on a Jewish homeland in Philistine. This brought conflict to the people because the hasidic people felt they should wait to the second coming of Christ before another homeland is established. As for the other Jews they tried to make haste on creating the homeland which would help cease war over there. Many rallies were held and soon the Orthodox(Zionist) Jews had there wish. The story of Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders help relay the message of two friends who struggle to maintain their freidnship through the quarrals of war over religion.
Personal Review: I thought this book was fairly entertaining. I did not have any expectations going not really understanding what the book was about. The book was a little slow, but I enjoyed the read due to the nature of it. The religious information and conflict was very interesting to learn about. I never really understood Judaism until I read this book. The book had a lot of intellectual discussion about life and how to view it. It made me think about my religion and how I view things. The novel allowed me to think about taking religion seriously and learning with intent, rather than going through the motions It offered so much insight into their strict moral ways of life, and reasons for it. The historical content and strong connection the boys held made for a entertaining novel.
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message 1: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie We studied this in English class when I was in high school. I don't remember a thing. But that's the way I am--if I don't write about it, I don't remember it.

Perhaps, like you said, it's obvious that Potok has a Jewish background, but based on your review, there seems to be more here than that. Is it fair to say that he encourages openness in religion? Learning from people of other traditions? Flexibility? This would lend towards the soft postmodernism... humility about what one can know.

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