Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Chosen

No, I'm not going to get into a theological debate (at least not yet) regarding one of the fundamental principles of Judaism.

Instead, I'm going keep this short and recommend a book.

For those of you who have known me for a decade -- and there are a few of you -- you'll remember sitting in Miss Emert's class (or the other teacher...I can't remember her name) and highlighting and marking up The Separate Peace by John Knowles. It was our first introduction to dissecting a novel, and most of us, if I remember right, loved the book. There's just something about a story about boys attending schools post-World War II and forging unusual friendships. I don't know what it is.

My friend JT, who I had morning drinks with the other day and who is trying to be Epsicopal, told me about the book. She adored it so much, and the book that came after, that she had already given them away to pass them on to others.

So we trotted over to a used bookstore that rivals The Dusty Bookshelf on Mass Street and found some copies. The sales clerk, an older man in his 70s, added up the cost of the books on a piece of paper and I gave him my credit card. Old style met new-fangled and now the books are mine.

I'm starting to read The Chosen, and I love it so far. If you love a good coming-of-age book, you'll love this. It's about a boy from a Reform synagogue. He meets a boy from a Hasidic neighborhood when their yeshivas (Hebrew schools) take on each other in a baseball game. The Hasidic boy taunts the boys from the Reform neighborhood, telling them that his team will kill them all because they speak sacred Hebrew instead of Yiddish, because they don't wear their tzitzit on the ballfield, because they were "apikorsim," secular Jews. Like Buzz said in an earlier comments, even Jews can be anti-semitic.

It really is a great book, and touches on so many issues within Judaism that translate to the world at large.

Oh -- and I ate bread for the first time after Passover last night. The pizza buffet was delicious!


Jennifer said...

It's not too hard to be Episcopalian it seems. So far they've let me believe whatever, do whatever. Anything goes (sounds familar), really. Glad you like the book! --JT

Jody said...

After reading the book you might want to see the film. I remember seeing it years ago and it starred Robbie Benson. It was really good. It was released in in 1982 and opened simultaneously in one thousand theaters and reportedly raised fifty million dollars for charitable institutions. In an interview with Chaim(the dreaded "ch") Potok (the author) he was asked why he decided to make a film out of the book. His answer was "interestingly enough the film initially was acquired by a Methodist fundamentalist from New Orleans named Roger Harrison. He wanted the world to see that there were American boys who were serious about their studies and about how to relate to their families and the world and that not every American teenager was into druga and sex and hot rods."

Anonymous said...

Mike, it's A Separate Piece, not The Separate Piece.

Michal (Michelle) said...

It's also Peace, not Piece, and I'm pretty sure a mixed up article isn't going to preclude anyone from finding the book. And no one's ever called me Mike, anon.

Brooke said...

If you liked The Separate Peace, you'll love A Great Gatsby.