The Life And Work Of Chaim Potok

Essay, Research Paper

The Life and Work of Chaim Potok

Chaim Potok lives a very full life he has served his country, peoples,

and religion very well and with great impact. First, to be discussed is his life

birth through the present. He was born at a very early age on February 17, 1929,

in New York, New York to Benjamin and Mollie Potok. The first university he went

to was Yeshiva University where he graduated in 1950 with a B.A., summa cum

laude, in English Literature. He also went to the Jewish Theological Seminary

of America where he left with an M.H.L. and a rabbinic ordination in 1954.

Finally, he graduated the University of Pennsylvania with a doctorate in

philosophy in 1965. Mr. Potok is married now since June 8, 1958, to Adena Sara

Mosevitzsky. They have 3 children Rena,

Chaim worked for the better of his people and religion with both his

occupations and his writings.

He worked as an instructor at the University of Judaism 1957 to 1959. He

was on the faculty of the Teachers Institute, Jewish Theological Seminary from

1964 to 1965. He was also editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society of

America 1965 to 1974. He is currently the chairman of the Publication Committee

at The Jewish Publications Society. Chaim Potok also served his people and

religion through all of his writings which are all in some way related to or

involve Judaism.

Now, to go in-depth into his writings. First, his novels. The first

novel Potok wrote was The Chosen, which won him the Edward Lewis Wallant award,

in 1969, here is a quotation about that book:

“So why did Potok’s book make such a heavy impression on me?… he takes a

meager story, told in plain words, about two Jewish boys who are radically

unlike me and turns it into something so universal I couldn’t help getting

pulled in by it. ” -Lea Davis

The next novel he wrote was the sequel to The Chosen, The Promise, in

1969, which also won him an award, The Athenaeum Prize. After that, he wrote My

Name is Asher Lev in 1972. His next novel In the Beginning was written in 1975.

Then he wrote The Book of Lights in 1981. In 1985 he wrote Davita’s Harp. In

1990 he wrote The Gift of Asher Lev which won him The National Jewish Book Award

for Fiction. Which brings us to his most recent novel I Am the Clay from 1992.

Chaim Potok also wrote a couple of children’s books The Tree of Here and The Sky

of Now in 1993 and 1995 respectively. Chaim only published one Non-Fiction book

called Wanderings in 1978 about the history of the Jewish people. He wrote three

plays one of them, Out of the Depths, is a two act play that premiered in 1990.

The other two Sins of the Father and The Carnival and The Gallery, are both one

act plays that premiered also in 1990. His most recent play, The Play of Lights,

premiered in 1992. Chaim has written three novellas that have y et to be

translated into English; their titles are: The Canal, The Trope Teacher, and The

Golem’s Hand. Mr. Potok has several other works such as short stories and essays

that have appeared in many publications including Esquire, The New York Times

Book Review, The New York Times Magazine, Commentary, Moment, Saturday Review,

Seventeen, The American Voice, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. As a side not

Chaim Potok’s book The Chosen was made into a movie in which Chaim has a small

cameo appearance. In conclusion, Chaim Potok’s life works have been plentiful

and beneficial to people all over the world.

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