BOOK REVIEW:THE CHOSEN

“…the human being struggles with his environment and with the hooks that catch him.Sometimes he masters his difficulties;sometimes they are too much for him.His struggles are all that the world sees and it naturally misunderstands them.It is hard for a free fish to understand what is happening to a hooked one.” – Karl Menninger

How appropriate that Chaim Potok on his dedication page  would start with a quote from  psychiatrist Karl Menninger.

What a way to start of a book that would take us into the minds and lives of 2  Orthodox  Jewish boys growing up in New York,living just blocks away from each other yet each  so different in their beliefs.

The Chosen is a story about two Jewish boys growing up in  Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn ,New York in the 1940’s, totally unaware of each others existence. Until a baseball ball game with an  almost fatal ending  brought them together.

Chaim Potok weaves the story of Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter  in the pages of this book in a spell binding manner that will both  haunt and captivate you.

Danny Saunders is the son of a Reb Saunders the revered Hasidim leader of a Jewish community, while Reuven’s David Malter  father is a Mitnagidim ,both are branches of Orthodox Judaism.

But with very different opinions on how a true Jew should live.

An excerpt from the book when Reb Saunders is explaining why he imposed silence between him and his genius  son

One learns of the pain of others by suffering one’s own pain…….And it is important to know of pain he said.It destroys our self pride,our arrogance,our indifference towards others.It makes us aware of how frail and tiny we are and of how much we must depend upon the Master of the Universe.

The story explores the conflict between faith and  secularism through the stories of these two boys and their fathers.

What do we do when our dreams are in conflict with faith,culture and family obligations ?

The story is especially important today when we have become so intolerant of people whose beliefs are different from us,dress differently,look different maybe even speak differently.

And when Reuven and Danny’s friendship takes them into each others homes and they discover that what they considered strange is  familiar and  that after all human beings want the same things no matter their back grounds.

The story follows the boys and their fathers as they grow up,into the intricacies surrounding Word War Two and the founding of the Jewish state of Israel.

A truly captivating story.

Get the book and find out what happens to Danny and Reuven when they grow up.