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Don't Judge a Jew by His Cover - The Chosen by Chaim Potok.

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Don't Judge a Jew by His Cover A central theme in The Chosen by Chaim Potok is the conflict between Hassidic Jewish beliefs and modern Jewish beliefs. The protagonists, Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders had never known a type of Judaism other than the one they grew up with until they met each other. They each thought that because they dressed so differently, and had such different opinions about Judaism, that they could not be friends. However, despite their differences, they become great friends. Chaim Potok highlights the theme of conflicting styles of Judaism in many ways throughout the novel. One way Potok shows this conflict is by the protagonists' different clothing. Both protagonists, Reuven and Danny, are devoted to their religion, and they wear clothing that marks them as observant Jews. However, Danny, who is a Hassid, wears the traditional clothing worn by Eastern European Jews. ...read more.


"My father would read the newspaper...the headlines spurred him onto new bursts of Zionist activity and to loud, excited justification of the way he was driving himself in his fund-raising and speechmaking efforts in behalf of a Jewish state. A third difference between the boys is that Danny cannot learn whatever he wants to freely. His father will only let him learn about subjects relating to, or concerning, Judaism. Reuven's father wants Reuven to learn about the outside world. When Reuven is rushed to the hospital due to an eye injury, Reuven's father visits him. He brings his son tefillin (box-like instruments worn by adult Jewish males at weekday morning services at the synagogue) and prayer books so his son can stay. At the same time, however, he makes sure to tell Reuven about his obligation to care about the outside world, and brings him a radio. ...read more.


Danny is "The Chosen" one of his community because he is the rabbi's son, and must follow in his fathers footsteps. Also, the entire community wants Danny to lead them because he is so knowledgeable, and capable of being a magnificent leader.. He envies Reuven, because he wishes that he was not The Chosen one. "It's really funny. I have to be a rabbi, and don't want to be one. You don't have to be a rabbi and do want to be one. It's a crazy world." (82) As illustrated by these examples, the tension between the Hassidic Jews and the modern Jews is a central theme in The Chosen. The same conflict that Chaim Potok wrote about in1967 still exists to this day. How people of different levels of observance raise their children is still an issue. However, as with Danny and Reuven, Jews of different levels of observance can find a common ground. 1 ...read more.

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