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The Chosen Chaim Potok Menu Introduction Background Discussion Starters The Chosen Chaim Potok The Chosen: Introduction Has your life ever changed in an instant? The Chosen: Introduction In The Chosen, that’s exactly what happens to Reuven Malter. And it’s all because of a softball game. The Chosen: Introduction During the game between two Jewish schools, Reuven meets Danny Saunders, a player for the other team. At first, the two can’t stand each another. The Chosen: Introduction Danny’s team is made up of Hasidic Jews, who taunt Reuven’s team for being “apikorsim”—not religious enough. To make matters worse, they’re strong and skilled players. The Chosen: Introduction The game—and their differences—grow so powerful that Reuven and Danny feel more and more anger and hate toward each another. And then Danny hits a baseball right into Reuven’s eye, breaking his glasses. Part of the glass goes into Reuven’s eye. The Chosen: Introduction Reuven has surgery on his eye, but there’s a chance that it could be blinded as a result of the injury. A few days later, Reuven wakes up to find Danny there to visit him. The Chosen: Introduction Danny becomes one of the most important friends in Reuven’s life. What makes an enemy become a friend? The Chosen: Background Reuven and Danny are both Jewish, but they practice different kinds of Judaism. •Reuven is an Orthodox Jew. •Danny is a Hasidic Jew. These two groups have different ideas about their faith and how to live their lives. The Chosen: Background Orthodox Jews • follow Jewish laws but are open to the modern world • use modern academic methods to guide their study • usually do not wear traditional clothing, except for a skullcap, or yarmulke The Chosen: Background Hasidic Jews • live in close-knit communities, separated from the secular world • wear traditional clothes and speak Yiddish • Separated from Jewish tradition by deciding to focus on serving God through love and prayer The Chosen: Background Part of Judaism is the study of the Talmud: • a large collection of civil, religious, and ethical laws • plus scholarly discussions about these laws The Chosen: Background The Chosen takes place during World War II, in which the German army conquered most of Europe. The Chosen: Background Germany’s Nazi Party sent millions of Jews and other people to work camps and concentration camps. The death of millions in these camps—both through the Nazi’s attempt at genocide of the Jews and as a result of the terrible conditions—is known as the Holocaust. The Chosen: Background After World War II and the Holocaust, many Jewish people demanded their own homeland, something that some Jews—known as Zionists—had wanted for years. However, not all Jewish people agreed shared the desire for a homeland. The Chosen: Background Despite this disagreement, in 1948 the State of Israel was created in the Middle East. The Chosen: Discussion Starters Discuss (1) Reuven and Danny start off enemies, and Reuven is even injured by Danny’s actions. Yet they become friends. • Can you imagine becoming friends with someone whom you had a strong conflict with? Why or why not? • What might make an enemy become a friend? The Chosen: Discussion Starters Discuss (2) The characters in The Chosen are strongly devoted to beliefs about life and religion. • How do ideas about life and religion affect the choices we make in everyday life? • What kinds of beliefs impact you in your daily life? • How do beliefs create groups of people? How do these groups view people with different beliefs? What problems can arise from these views?
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