Chaim Potok

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Chaim Potok

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Maio 15, 2008, 12:25am

Hi all,

I am new to this group and have enjoyed reading the past posts.

I was wondering if anyone knows of fiction books that touch on themes that are present in most of Chaim Potok's works. Although he is considered a writer of young adult fiction, I have found in the four books I've read by him that I am interested in the historical setting that he places his novels. Themes that reoccur in his works usually resolve around the tension between Hasidim and/or orthodox Judaism and the secular world, Zionism and the struggle to define yourself with in a religious community.

Are there any books that you have read that touch on similar themes? What do you think of Potok's works.


Maio 15, 2008, 12:49am

I haven't read Potok's books for many years. My favorite of all his books was My Name is Asher Lev. I read it in 1973!! My husband's favorite was The Chosen.

One book with a similar theme (Chasidic individual finding a place in the world) that I liked was The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham. It was the story of a young girl in a Chasidic community. I was intrigued by this book because the author is from Monsey, New York - a city in which I myself have close family.

My best friend liked Kaaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman very much, but I only thought it was so-so.

You may also like to read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. She tells the story of Jacob's four wives. My husband even liked this book. That's a very good book.

Maio 15, 2008, 11:46pm

A young-adult novel that I enjoyed recently is Strange Relations by Sonia Levitin where a girl goes to stay with her Orthodox aunt and family in Hawaii for the summer. They are obviously a Chabad family and the main character is a very secular Jew. I liked the story because the girl finds herself becoming more accepting of her "weird" aunt and their lifestyle and learns a bit about herself. Touchstones aren't working for this one - it's pretty new.

Maio 16, 2008, 12:36am

I read My name is Asher Lev this year and then followed up with The Chosen, The Promise and In the Beginning. I enjoyed Asher Lev the most for the character of Asher and Chosen more for the historical context the book was set in. Yet after reading four of them they have become a bit repetitive, so I need something new.

The Chosen also started me on reading history books about Judaism. I am currently reading The Lost Messiah by John Freely, He travels to Turkey and other places where Sabattai Sevi lived trying to reconstruct his life from primary documents. It is interesting but slow going. Thanks for the suggestions Moto and Chu.

Maio 16, 2008, 8:43am

Have you read Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler? It's wonderful.

Maio 28, 2008, 12:42pm

Nathan Englander's short story collection, For The Relief of Unbearable Urges is excellent!

Maio 28, 2008, 2:35pm

Booh, you also might enjoy some of Bernard Malamud's books. I'm thinking of The Assistant in particular.

Editado: Ago 7, 2008, 9:12pm

For a completely different perspective on this subject, try Faye Kellerman's Rina Lazarus/Peter Decker series. Contemporary detective fiction with the added human interest "hook" of having the main character, a man raised as a Baptist, falling in love and marrying an observant Orthodox Jewish woman whose first husband (now deceased) was studying to be a rabbi. Lots of insight into keeping the ancient laws in the modern world.

I loved Kaaterskill Falls too.

Nov 26, 2013, 6:59pm

I agree with you with the Faye Kellerman novels. They are excellent mysteries, well written, and the Jewish perpective is mostly matter of fact. Touchtones does not work, it's likely because I on a phone not laptop.

Nov 27, 2013, 3:16am

Maybe you should look at the recommendations under The Rabbi's Daughter by Reva Mann. This is a book about the break away from Orthodoxy.