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The Chosen (Anglais) Poche – 12 avril 1987


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For the first fifteen years of our lives, Danny and I lived within five blocks of each other and neither of us knew of the other’s existence.

Danny’s block was heavily populated by the followers of his father, Russian Hasidic Jews in somber garb, whose habits and frames of reference were born on the soil of the land they had abandoned. They drank tea from samovars, sipping it slowly through cubes of sugar held between their teeth; they ate the foods of their homeland, talked loudly, occasionally in Russian, most often in a Russian Yiddish, and were fierce in their loyalty to Danny’s father.

A block away lived another Hasidic sect, Jews from southern Poland, who walked the Brooklyn streets like specters, with their black hats, long black coats, black beards, and earlocks. These Jews had their own rabbi, their own dynastic ruler, who could trace his family’s position of rabbinic leadership back to the time of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the eighteenth-century founder of Hasidism, whom they all regarded as a God-invested personality.

About three or four such Hasidic sects populated the area in which Danny and I grew up, each with its own rabbi, its own little synagogue, its own customs, it own fierce loyalties. On a Shabbat or festival morning, the members of each sect could be seen walking to their respective synagogues, dressed in their particular garb, eager to pray with their particular rabbi and forget the tumult of the week and the hungry grabbing for money which they needed to feed their large families during the seemingly endless Depression. The sidewalks of Williamsburg were cracked squares of cement, the streets paved with asphalt that softened in the stifling summers and broke apart into potholes in the bitter winters. Many of the houses were brownstones, set tightly together, none taller than three or four stories. In these houses lived Jews, Irish, Germans, and some Spanish Civil War refugee families that had fled the new Franco regime before the onset of the Second World War. Most of the stores were run by gentiles, but some were owned by Orthodox Jews, members of the Hasidic sects in the area. They could be seen behind their counters, wearing black skullcaps, full beards, and long earlocks, eking out their meager livelihoods and dreaming of Shabbat and festivals when they could close their stores and turn their attention to their prayers, their rabbi, their God.

Every Orthodox Jew sent his male children to a yeshiva, a Jewish parochial school, where they studied from eight or nine in the morning to four or five in the evening. On Fridays the students were let out at about one o’clock to prepare for the Shabbat. Jewish education was compulsory for the Orthodox, and because this was America and not Europe, English education was compulsory as well–so each student carried a double burden: Hebrew studies in the mornings and English studies in the afternoons. The test of intellectual excellence, however, had been reduced by tradition and unvoiced unanimity to a single area of study: Talmud. Virtuosity in Talmud was the achievement most sought after by every student of a yeshiva, for it was the automatic guarantee of a reputation for brilliance.

Danny attended the small yeshiva established by his father. Outside of the Williamsburg area, in Crown Heights, I attended the yeshiva in which my father taught. This latter yeshiva was somewhat looked down upon by the students of other Jewish parochial schools of Brooklyn: it offered more English subjects than the required minimum, and it taught its Jewish subjects in Hebrew rather than Yiddish. Most of the students were children of immigrant Jews who preferred to regard themselves as having been emancipated from the fenced-off ghetto mentality typical of the other Jewish parochial schools in Brooklyn.

Danny and I probably would never have met–or we would have met under altogether different circumstances–had it not been for America’s entry into the Second World War and the desire this bred on the part of some English teachers in the Jewish parochial schools to show the gentile world that yeshiva students were as physically fit, despite their long hours of study, as any other American student. They went about proving this by organizing the Jewish parochial schools in and around our area into competitive leagues, and once every two weeks the schools would compete against one another in a variety of sports. I became a member of my school’s varsity softball team.

On a Sunday afternoon in early June, the fifteen members of my team met with our gym instructor in the play yard of our school. It was a warm day, and the sun was bright on the asphalt floor of the yard. The gym instructor was a short, chunky man in his early thirties who taught in the mornings in a nearby public high school and supplemented his income by teaching in our yeshiva during the afternoons. He wore a white polo shirt, white pants, and white sweater, and from the awkward way the little black skullcap sat perched on his round, balding head, it was clearly apparent that he was not accustomed to wearing it with any sort of regularity. When he talked he frequently thumped his right fist into his left palm to emphasize a point. He walked on the balls of his feet, almost in imitation of a boxer’s ring stance, and he was fanatically addicted to professional baseball. He had nursed our softball team along for two years, and by a mixture of patience, luck, shrewd manipulations during some tight ball games, and hard, fist-thumping harangues calculated to shove us into a patriotic awareness of the importance of athletics and physical fitness for the war effort, he was able to mold our original team of fifteen awkward fumblers into the top team of our league. His name was Mr. Galanter, and all of us wondered why he was not off somewhere fighting in the war.

During my two years with the team, I had become quite adept at second base and had also developed a swift underhand pitch that would tempt a batter into a swing but would drop into a curve at the last moment and slide just below the flaying bat for a strike. Mr. Galanter always began a ball game by putting me at second base and would use me as a pitcher only in very tight moments, because, as he put it once, “My baseball philosophy is grounded on the defensive solidarity of the infield.”

That afternoon we were scheduled to play the winning team of another neighborhood league, a team with a reputation for wild, offensive slugging and poor fielding. Mr. Galanter said he was counting upon our infield to act as a solid defensive front. Throughout the warm-up period, with only our team in the yard, he kept thumping his right fist into his left palm and shouting at us to be a solid defensive front.

“No holes,” he shouted from near home plate. “No holes, you hear? Goldberg, what kind of solid defensive front is that? Close in. A battleship could get between you and Malter. That’s it. Schwartz, what are you doing, looking for paratroops? This is a ball game. The enemy’s on the ground. That throw was wide, Goldberg. Throw it like a sharpshooter. Give him the ball again. Throw it. Good. Like a sharpshooter. Very good. Keep the infield solid. No defensive holes in this war.”

We batted and threw the ball around, and it was warm and sunny, and there was the smooth, happy feeling of the summer soon to come, and the tight excitement of the ball game. We wanted very much to win, both for ourselves and, more especially, for Mr. Galanter, for we had all come to like his fist-thumping sincerity. To the rabbis who taught in the Jewish parochial schools, baseball was an evil waste of time, a spawn of the potentially assimilationist English portion of the yeshiva day. But to the students of most of the parochial schools, an inter-league baseball victory had come to take on only a shade less significance than a top grade in Talmud, for it was an unquestioned mark of one’s Americanism, and to be counted a loyal American had become increasingly important to us during these last years of the war.

So Mr. Galanter stood near home plate, shouting instructions and words of encouragement, and we batted and tossed the ball around. I walked off the field for a moment to set up my eyeglasses for the game. I wore shell-rimmed glasses, and before every game I would bend the earpieces in so the glasses would stay tight on my head and not slip down the bridge of my nose when I began to sweat. I always waited until just before a game to bend down the earpieces, because, bent, they would cut into the skin over my ears, and I did not want to feel the pain a moment longer than I had to. The tops of my ears would be sore for days after every game, but better that, I thought, than the need to keep pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose or the possibility of having them fall off suddenly during an important play.

Davey Cantor, one of the boys who acted as a replacement if a first-stringer had to leave the game, was standing near the wire screen behind home plate. He was a short boy, with a round face, dark hair, owlish glasses, and a very Semitic nose. He watched me fix my glasses.

“You’re looking good out there, Reuven,” he told me.

“Thanks,” I said.

“Everyone is looking real good.”

“It’ll be a good game.”

He stared at me through his glasses. “You think so?” he asked.

“Sure, why not?”

“You ever see them play, Reuven?”

“No.”

“They’re murderers.”

“Sure,” I said.

“No, really. They’re wild.”

“You saw them play?”

“Twice. They’re murderers.”

“Everyone plays to win, Davey.”

“They don’t only play to win. They play like it’s the first of the Ten Commandments.”

I laughed. “That yeshiva?” I said. “Oh, come on, Davey.”

Présentation de l'éditeur

"Anyone who finds it is finding a jewel. Its themes are profound and universal."
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again....


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Détails sur le produit

  • Poche: 304 pages
  • Editeur : Fawcett; Édition : Reissue (12 avril 1987)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0449213447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449213445
  • Dimensions du produit: 10,7 x 2,1 x 17,4 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 35.091 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Format: Poche Achat vérifié
Je recommande ce roman de Chaim Potok. Il est écrit de manière juste, et réussit à nous transporter dans un univers très particulier où la communication est essentielle, et où les relations humaines sont au centre de l'épanouissement personnel.
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0 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Edouard Robberechts le 26 mai 2009
Format: Poche
le livre que j'ai reçu parait neuf.il n'ya pas de prolème.la seule chose c'est que les pages sont assez dures mais on s'y fait.On est là pour lire l'histoire non?!
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135 internautes sur 139 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Classic In Every Sense 26 mai 2001
Par G. J Wiener - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
This novel is suited for just about anybody regardless of religion or race. Those who are Jewish will relate a little easier but those of other faiths can apply the various relationships that occur in this book to their own lives.
The story is primarilly about two boys, Reuven and Danny who meet one day in a softball game. Danny is a Hassidic Jew and Reuven is merely Orthodox. Danny's initial impression is one of disdain towards Reuven as he is unable to relate to people who are not on his religious level at first impression. An accident on the ball field brings them together and eventually they begin a friendship. It grows deeper when both their fathers are drawn into each others worlds. It is indeed very interesting how each father raises his son so diffrently.
The backdrops of the hospital, World War II, the surrender of the Nazis, The Zionist Movement, and the eventual statehood of Israel effect the two worlds of Danny and Reuven. There is a period of time when the Zionist movement causes Danny and Reuven to put their friendship on hold. However, in time they return to nurture each other.
This is not a quick read by any means as anyone with a soul with be enamored by the details of this fine novel. Practically each page offers descriptive information about critical steps that Danny and Reuven take in their critical years to discovering themselves. Even both fathers learn something in the end. This is a story which will have you thinking and analyzing many many aspects of the lives of Danny and Reuven and I sincerely hope more teenagers and college students read this book and develop a greater acceptance for peers who may be a little different from themselves.
81 internautes sur 86 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Friendship that transcends all differences 18 mars 2001
Par Tom Hinkle - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This is a story of friendship, a friendship that is formed between two Jewish boys (of differenct sects) under the most unusual circumstances. One boy, Danny, destined to be a tzaddik, a rabbi to the Hasidic community, is raised by his rabbi father who communicates to Danny only during study of the Torah. The other boy, Reuven, from a less strict Jewish sect, becomes more than a friend, actually more like a buffer or a liason between Danny and his father. Their friendship grows, is torn apart and then mended, leading to the emotional final chapter, as their true destinies begin to take shape.
Chaim Potok has become one of my favorite authors. This is the third book of his that I have read this year, and, as a Christian, his novels give me great insight into modern day Judaism. His books are not only informative, but brilliant, heartbreaking, and compassionate. Everyone with any kind of religious bent at all, or even the non-religious, should read his work. I'll guarantee that you will be moved.
66 internautes sur 70 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"The Chosen" Is A Miracle For All 9 juillet 2000
Par Dan Eaton - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
I am an African American attorney who read this book as part of collecting readings for a summer trip with Operation Understanding to share with Black and Jewish high school students. Operation Understanding takes 8 Black and 8 Jewish students between their Junior and Senior years of high school on a trip across the South and Northeast, stopping at places of significance to both, in an effort to restore the alliance that existed between the groups especially during the Civil Rights Movement. This was the perfect book to gain a deeper understanding of American Jewry for the trip.
The book explores the relationship between two deeply religious boys from profoundly different traditions within that religion who are accidentally -- divinely, really -- brought together. The development of both boys' spirituality starts with lessons from their fathers and deepens with lessons from each other.
The Chosen takes place in World War II America. I was already familiar with many of the classic accounts of Holocaust survivors (Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel, and others.) This book richly filled a gap in that understanding by presenting a fully formed first person account, though ficitious, of the wrenching experience of American Jews who helplessly learned of the horror from here.
The book also offers thorough background information (which will have to be supplemented by further reading) about Jewish history, both cultural and religious. The author patiently explains terms presumably unfamiliar to the general reader and then trusts the reader to turn back if, during the course of reading the novel, the terms are momentarily forgotten. Those reviewers who said that Potok left the reader unaided were simply not paying close attention.
Beyond its fascinating historical and religious perspectives, this book's elegant craftsmanship and universal themes will move anyone, regardless of background. Potok's gift for writing regional American dialogue is similar to that of Twain and Steinbeck. Thematically, especially moving to me was the way in which the fathers' mostly wordless love and support for their sons manifested itself in the friends' often wordless love and support for each other. It is significant in this regard that the fathers never meet in the novel, even as they separately express a conflicted admiration for each other when each speaks to one or both boys. When both boys choose career paths their fathers had not expected, Potok allows the reader to share all four characters' realization that it is fulfilling the expectations of God, the Father that ultimately matters most.
I will share an excerpt of this extraordinary book with the young people on our trip. And when we reach New York, my hometown, I'm giving my copy to my Dad.
57 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
One of the best books I've ever read 7 février 2000
Par Emily Scott - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
This book explores the friendship that develops between two Jewish boys in New York City during the Second World War. I loved it for it's beautiful story and how it weaves together the very different lives of the boys, their relationships with their fathers, and the eventual interactions of all four of the characters. Potok includes numerous desriptions of Jewish tradition and customs, which is vital to the story as well as fascinating information. I found myself seeking to learn more about the Jewish faith when I finished this book. The plot is complex in how it balances the characters and their lives, all while teaching the reader about the various sects of Judaism. At the same time, it is told in beautiful language that is very easy to understand and appreciate. The entire book is muted and wonderfully understated, and it feels like you are listening to an old man recount his youth in a soft yet spirited voice. Potok's book "The Promise" follows up the story of "The Chosen" nicely, but the first book in the sequence is by far the best. At times tragic, jubilant, and thoughtful, this is by far one of the best books I have ever read, if not THE best. I feel like I'm a better person for it. Everyone should have a chance to read this book.
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Unforgettable and Haunting 3 octobre 2003
Par Carey - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche Achat vérifié
This is one of those books I should already have read but hadn't. There are so many of those! I am so glad I finally picked this up. It's short and straight-forward, as books used to be, yet complex and beyond meaningful, as books at their best are.
It isn't hard reading, by any means, but it reveals a strong, strong lesson played out through the friendship of two young boys, their complex relationship to one another and within their small world, their fathers' relationship to each another (and their worlds and thought processes), and how they are viewed--and view--their school and community. All of this in such a tiny book - while nowadays books are 800 pages of nada (and I'm just in my 30's).
It's not a children's book and, while simple, it's far from simplistic. The "lesson" or "moral" or journey of the two boys is life-altering for them, and really, in its way, was for me too - because of how haunting it is, how direct its story, how the plot is the thing. We're handed the message, easily, on a platter - and that is all that's needed.
The levels of complexity are within these peoples' worlds, not wordplay or fancy writing. It's the/their real world - a world full of those who don't fit in where they "should," those trying to find their own ways, being judged by others, and pressured by their own.
Some of the themes are universal; the world in which these two live isn't. Their world is specific and small, and has to be for this story; yet, for anyone interested in this particular world--the multifacets of Judaism and its sects at some of the highest, most historic or profound, levels--the book is a history lesson. It isn't a boring history lesson but one told through the eyes of two boys finding their ways through their respective cultures and into the world. Do people [does a person] want to be the part of the world laid out for them and what is involved in leaving it? This question applies to everyone.
It's mainly their relationship to each other that reveals the information. Two boys talk and teach one another; people love and resent; one boy is uniquely pressured, the other more free. This is a book about Jewish history, about friendship, about personal choice, and the road to independent thought.
The thing that makes a character a brilliant talmudic scholar is the same character trait that makes him an independent thinker who questions the path set out for him and his duty to fulfill it. His duty and his feelings are at odds; he is a young boy and his struggles are moral, intellectual, historic, and human. His conversations with his friend are profound and eye opening, both for the characters and the reader.
Conversation and human interaction dominate a book that is predominantly a journey of thought. It's lovely. This approach leads us to feel not only for the characters but for their relationships - the boys' to one another and each to his and the other's father, as well as the bonds formed with "minor" characters.
From the first chapter, I was hooked. It begins with an edge-of-your-seat baseball game. I couldn't be less interested in baseball, but there was something going on here, a nail biter, a bring-us-in chapter that brought us into a world so complicated yet, again, written and shown to us so easily. Piecemeal, in a way - from the game to the hospital, other characters in the ward, then to their outside-the-hospital world that is the rest of the book.
It's a must read, truly. It is a must-read for Jews (I am Jewish) but also universal in theme, and an insight into particular elements of Judaism. I'd recommend it to absolutely anyone.
It's taken me a long time to write the review since finishing the book, as I didn't even know where to start. But, The Chosen is with me in the same way as the day I put it down, and as I hope it will always be. I hope not to forget. I hope no one does.
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