Photo Flash: Chaim Potok's THE CHOSEN Opens …
Potok’s first novel was The Chosen (1967; film, 1981)
For young Chaim, daily life centered, just as it had for Jewish boys in the Old World, on the local yeshiva, or parochial school, where in addition to state-mandated secular subjects, the primary focus was on the study of Jewish sacred texts. The secular world intruded only from time to time, usually in the person of the Lone Ranger, caught fleetingly on the radio at home.
Style Analysis - The Chosen By Chaim Potok
These young men's struggles were Mr. Potok's own. Herman Harold Potok was born in the Bronx on Feb. 17, 1929. (Throughout his life, Mr. Potok was customarily called by his Hebrew name, Chaim -- meaning ''life'' or ''alive'' -- which he also used professionally.) His parents, Benjamin Max and Mollie Friedman Potok, were deeply traditional Hasidic Jews, immigrants from Eastern Europe.
PERSONAL: Born: February 17, 1929 in New York City, N.Y
The novel was on The New York Times best-seller list for more than six months and was a finalist for a National Book Award. In 1981 ''The Chosen'' was made into a feature film starring Rod Steiger, and in 1988 it had a brief run as a Broadway musical. There are currently more than a million copies of the novel in print in paperback, a spokeswoman for Ballantine Books said.
The Chosen, premiered in New York, January 1988
A bearded man with a scholarly mien, Mr. Potok wrote in a straightforward prose that some critics found unpolished and others likened to that of an urban Hemingway. In his books, he drew readers -- Jews and non-Jews alike -- into a world that few had ever encountered. There, bearded, black-garbed men kept alive an ecstatic brand of Judaism, born in 18th-century Eastern Europe, that centered both on a charismatic spiritual leader, often called a tzaddik (Hebrew for ''righteous one'') and on an individual's direct relationship to God.
Chaim Potok (novel), Edwin Gordon (screenplay) ..
Mr. Potok came to international prominence in 1967 with his debut novel, ''The Chosen'' (Simon & Schuster). Unlike the work of the novelists Philip Roth and Saul Bellow, which dealt largely with the neuroses of assimilated secular Jews, ''The Chosen'' was the first American novel to make the fervent, insular Hasidic world visible to a wide audience.