Chaim Potok was a world-class writer and scholar, a Conservative Jew who wrote from and about his tradition and the conflicts between observance and acculturation. With a plain, straightforward style, his novels were set against the moral, spiritual, and intellectual currents of the twentieth century. This collection aims to widen the lens through which we read Chaim Potok and to establish him as an authentic American writer who created unforgettable characters forging American identities for themselves while retaining their Jewish nature. The essays illuminate the central struggle in Potok’s novels, which results from a profound desire to reconcile the appeal of modernity with the pull of traditional Judaism. The volume includes a memoir by Adena Potok and ends with Chaim Potok’s “My Life as a Writer,” a speech he gave at Penn State in 1982.
Aside from the editor, the contributors are Victoria Aarons, Nathan P. Devir, Jane Eisner, Susanne Klingenstein, S. Lillian Kremer, Jessica Lang, Sanford E. Marovitz, Kathryn McClymond, Hugh Nissenson, Adena Potok, and Jonathan Rosen.