February 17, 2009

Potok Birthday

Today is the birthday of novelist Chaim Potok, born in NY in 1929. He's a rabbi and wrote books about Orthodox Jews, actually Hasidic, raised in New York City with the tensions of the varying values and culture in modern society. 

I mention him because I've read three of his books and really like them. The Chosen and The Promise follow the same characters, and The Chosen was made into a movie. As a parent you struggle with the chosen relationship between the father and his son. The movie shows that struggle in a more painful visual.

I'm even more intrigued with his My Name is Asher Lev, the story of a young artist, whose gifting, developing into a career, is not approved by his father, though their Hasidic Rebbe gives his approval. Here again, great character dynamics. The crucifixions Asher produces still capture my imagination. I see there's a sequel, The Gift of Asher Lev, I'll definitely have to read. The first book (which I will read again) left too many questions. Will they be answered?!

One great question? What is secular and what is sacred? I have my opinions on this, but will leave it hanging.
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