Mark potok related to chaim potok

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mark potok related to chaim potok

Davitas Harp by Chaim Potok

For Davita Chandal, growing up in the New York of the 1930s and 40s is an experience of joy and sadness. Her loving parents, both fervent radicals, fill her with the fiercely bright hope of a new and better world. But as the deprivations of war and depression take a ruthless toll, Davita unexpectedly turns to the Jewish faith that her mother had long ago abandoned, finding there both a solace for her questioning inner pain and a test of her budding spirit of independence.

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Published 11.06.2019

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Using his writing like a beam of light, the late author Chaim Potok illuminated the oft-hidden world of the American Orthodox community. His vivid, tender descriptions of Orthodox characters in his novels depicted tensions between religious tradition and secular modernity, cultural preservation and assimilation. Through his courageous choice to incorporate topics like Talmudic Study, Chasidism and rabbinical debates into his writing, Potok immersed secular readers in the complex Orthodox lifestyle. Potok thus shattered the view of the Orthodox community as theological and ideological carbon copies, instead choosing to depict a far more intricate Jewish world, composed of individuals with unique backgrounds, dreams and futures. He also published work on the Hebrew Bible, taught a graduate seminar on postmodernism at the University of Pennsylvania and wrote accounts of Jewish history. Potok was a tireless chronicler of a religious Jewish world that was voluntarily closed to modern advances and of a people both sustained and challenged by deep theological convictions.

In an interview Potok said, "I prayed in a little shtiebel [prayer room], and my mother is a descendant of a great Hasidic dynasty and my father was a Hasid, so I come from that world. After reading Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited when he was a teenager, Potok decided to become a writer. Riveted by the world of upper-class British Catholics that Waugh brings to life in the novel, Potok realized for the first time that fiction had the power "to create worlds out of words on paper. Over a period of five years, he spent most of his free time reading the novels of great writers. At the same time, he became fascinated by less restrictive Jewish doctrines, particularly the Conservative movement. He attended Yeshiva University and graduated summa cum laude in English literature in before moving on to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was ordained a Conservative rabbi.

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Chaim Potok

One would think that 4, years of civilization — with all the transformations and dispersions, the names and the documents, not to mention the problems of interpretation — would discourage the most determined synthesizer. Chaim Potok's History of the Jews. By Chaim Potok. New York: Alfred A. The lure, I suspect, is nothing less than the prospect of getting at the very meaning of Jewish history.

In which the author discovers something quite extraordinary, and totally unexpected, about his admittedly rare surname. As a kid, I suffered the slings and arrows that most of us with such foreign names grow up with. I was called Pollock, Pockrock and worse. One unkind kid on the playground, perhaps sensing some need for attention, labeled me Peacock. Even today, when my work for the Southern Poverty Law Center calls for talking about far-right extremism to reporters, my name is routinely rendered as Potock. Until, that is, I received an E-mail recently from a friend in the same business, Mark Pitcavage, the fact-finding director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish human rights group.


  1. Eri C. says:

    I'm distantly related to the truly great writer, Chaim Potok, which for a an E-mail recently from a friend in the same business, Mark Pitcavage.

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