The Reader’s Story

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 02 December 2014 @ 4:08 pm

Chosen- Potok1

Every book tells a story. (That is, after all, the point of a book.)

Some books, however, tell a story about the reader.
For those of us whose lives depend on the written word for sustenance, we hold especially dear those titles that tell a piece of our story. And for me, The Chosen is one of those books.

I was in the seventh grade.
Our Religious School teacher had to be away a lot on business.
For reasons that now make little sense to me as a Jewish educator, the fifteen-year-old teacher’s aide was given autonomy over the class and its curriculum.
He assigned us to read The Chosen.
Did I love the book because of the crush I had on the aide?
Or did I have a crush on the aide because I loved the book?

I was enthralled by the story and the characters and the setting.
All of it.
I loved learning about a Jewish world so different from the one I inhabited.
One, I suspect, I envied.
And on page 164, I saw how an author could use symbolism in a profound way.

That book has stayed with me these thirty years.
Literally and figuratively.
My original copy — replete with doodles in a childish hand and a worn cover — and a newer and more pristine copy.
It was my introduction to Chaim Potok, who remains one of my favourite authors (and was the childhood friend of one of my professors, T. Carni, z”l), and provided a glimpse into the world of rabbinic thought.
And was the backdrop of my girlhood crush.

My review on The Chosen is at Fig Tree Books.

Oh, and there is a lovely postscript to my story; I married that teacher’s aide when we grew up.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Media Editor 02 December 2014 @ 5:29 pm at 5:29 pm

What an excellent postscript!

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