Chaim Potok

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Chaim Potok (pronounced /ˈxaɪm ˈpoʊtɒk/; February 17, 1929 - July 23, 2002) was an American Jewish author and rabbi. Potok is most famous for his first book The Chosen, a 1967 novel, which became a bestseller. The book stayed on New York’s best seller list for 39 weeks and sold more than 3,400,000 copies.


Early years 1929-1939

Herman Harold Potok was born in the Bronx to Benjamin Max (d. 1958) and Mollie (Friedman) Potok (d. 1985), Jewish immigrants from Poland. He was the oldest of four children, all of whom either became a rabbi or married one. His Hebrew name was Chaim Tzvi (חיים צבי). He received an Orthodox Jewish education. After reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man he decided to become a writer. He started writing fiction at the age of 16. At the age of 17 he made his first submission to the Atlantic Monthly. It wasn't published, but he received a note from the editor complimenting his work.

Mid-life 1949-1979

In 1949 when Chaim was twenty years of age, he began to publish stories in his Yeshiva University (an Orthodox college in Manhattan) yearbook, which he helped edit. In 1950 Potok graduated from Yeshiva University with a B.A., summa cum laude, in English Literature.

After four years in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America he graduated as a Conservative Rabbi and was named director of the Conservative Youth Organization Leaders Training Fellowship. Over the next couple of years Potok was the receiver of many literary and homiletics prizes. For one summer in 1952, Potok met Adena Sara Mosevitzsky, a psychiatric social worker, at a Camp Ramah, Ojai, California, while being a camp Director (1957–1959). They were married on June 8, 1958, and had three children:Rena born in 1962, Naama born in 1965 , and Akiva born in 1968.

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