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The Chosen

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  77,023 Ratings  ·  3,764 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 August 27th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1967)
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Jim Fonseca
The book jacket tells us that this was the first book (published 1967) that introduced Jewish culture to a wide American audience.

The story centers around two boys growing up in the Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn in New York City of the 1940’s. The main character is a high-school aged boy who lost his mother years ago and is raised by his father, a teacher at a Jewish school, and a housekeeper. They are devout Orthodox Jews.


Due to a baseball injury, he makes friends with another
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Mads by: English teacher
Shelves: 2008, favorites, school
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 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
"This is a man's world
But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing, not one little thing, without a woman or a girl
He's lost in the wilderness
He's lost in bitterness, he's lost lost"

(James Brown, of course)

This must have been by far one of the most solemn books I've ever read.
It's a poignant story about two teenagers who grow up in Jewish Orthodox families in Brooklyn, during the period between the end of the second world war and the creation of Israel.

The author explores their friendship, the relation
Emilio Berra
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: letto
Essere figli. Essere padri

Questo bellissimo romanzo è la storia di un'amicizia fra due ragazzi. Vi è però molto di più : il rapporto di due figli coi rispettivi padri; il fronteggiarsi di due diverse concezioni e tradizioni pur all'interno della stessa religione ebraica...
Le vicende si svolgono a New York, nel quartiere dove gli ebrei immigrati dall'Europa hanno ricostituito le loro comunità.
Il periodo è compreso tra gli ultimi anni della Seconda Guerra Mondiale e i fatti successivi alla procla
Katie  Hanna
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I'm 23 years old and I've been reading for most of the time I've been alive.

In all those years of reading, I can recall openly sobbing on only two occasions.

The first time was in Little Women, when Beth March died.

And the second time was in The Chosen, when Reb Saunders said this:

"In the silence between us, he began to hear the world crying."
Aug 14, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Tiffany Reisz
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I saw the movie "A Stranger Among Us" about a New York cop (Melanie Griffith) who has to go undercover in Brooklyn's Hasidic Jewish community to solve a murder, I have been fascinated with the Hasidim. In "The Chosen," Reuven, an observant Jewish boy becomes best friends with Danny, a Hasidic Jewish boy, during WW2. Theirs is a beautiful odd friendship in their community and comes under considerable strain by the differing viewpoints of their fathers. One is a Zionist, fighting for th ...more
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
There are a lot of Jewish people in Brooklyn. One of them is my wife, but most of them aren't. There are a bunch of Modern Orthodox Jews, and the US's largest population of Hasidic Jews, based famously in Williamsburg. They're both conservative; one major difference is that Hasidic Jews are anti-Israel, for complicated and dumb reasons. The Chosen is about a friendship between a Modern Orthodox Jew, Reuven Malter, and a Hasidic Jew named Danny Saunders. I only heard about Chaim Potok and this bo ...more
Rebekah Rodda
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The story of an extraordinary friendship between two boys raised by parents with opposing views about how best to practise the Jewish faith. One boy is a genius whose father will go to extreme lengths to preserve his faith in God. I still shake my head at his actions but the power of this story is that it is not only unforgettable but it opens the curtain on Hasidic culture and contrasts it with the more modern but still devout Jew. A fascinating story, a page-turning friendship, and a rite of p ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, holocaust
Chaim Potok says in his foreword to the book that he wanted to write “an encompassing metaphor. How to make a unity of such disparate entitles—the war in Europe, a childhood eye injury, the mesmerizing quality and dark menace of certain books, Freud, religion, psychology, mathematical logic, sacred texts, scientific text criticism, Zionism, the Holocaust.”

In that he did a great job. The book was beautiful and memorable. It teaches history and a few life lessons, but overall, I found it tedious,
Carol Brill
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: his-fic, classics
The Chosen is undoubtedly a very character-driven novel. The entire focus of the book is the friendship between two boys, and the relationship they have with their fathers. Which I thought would be super great to read about!

And… it was. To an extent.

I loved the theme of fathers and sons. And I loved how Reuven and his Father interacted with each other in a close relationship. But I’m still INCREDIBLY confused as to Danny and his Father and what on earth was even going on with them and what the
Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elliot Ratzman
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La loro strada nel mondo
Ho trovato questo libro molto interessante perché, attraverso la storia di due ragazzi, racconta due modi antitetici di essere ebrei negli Stati Uniti. Dopo la fine della seconda guerra mondiale si abbattè sul mondo l’orribile scoperta della Shoà e la comunità americana si rese conto che la fiorente comunità ebraica europea era incenerita e stava agli ebrei americani di perpetuare il popolo e la religione ebraica. Buona parte della comunità ebraica americana ritenne che l
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: g-usa
Danny e Rewen, i due giovani protagonisti di questo romanzo, vivono entrambi a Brooklyn e sono entrambi ebrei, anche se appartengono a due diverse comunità. Il primo è un chassid, un fanatico secondo Rewen e i suoi amici. Questi ultimi sono ebrei moderati, degli apicorsim, eretici, per i chassidim.
Si incontrano per la prima volta sul campo da baseball e da uno scontro feroce, (view spoiler) nasce una profonda amicizi
Jun 06, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Vomit. I just wasn't really into it. I understood it and stuff, I just think there are better books.
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
HMSA Summer Reading: Book Review 6 41 Aug 17, 2018 06:17PM  
Play Book Tag: The Chosen by Chaim Potok - 5 stars 5 17 Aug 02, 2016 07:26PM  
The value of silence? 11 236 Jul 25, 2015 08:26PM  
What do you think about Reb Saunders method of teaching his son, Danny? 14 77 Dec 12, 2014 10:26AM  
What to read next? 17 88 Oct 27, 2014 09:30PM  
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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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“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.” 2350 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.”
More quotes…