Chaim Potok

Born - Jan 1, 1929   |   Died - Jul 23, 2002   |   Genres - Drama

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A rabbi turned author whose Hasidic rearing inspired his 1967 novel The Chosen (later translated to both screen and stage), Chaim Potok's frequent meditations on religious life and its effect on secular living propelled a lifelong dedication to studying the impact religion had on his career as both a writer and artist. Born in the Bronx to Jewish emigrants who hailed from Poland, Potok's early years in an Orthodox household yielded to an interest in Conservative Judaism as he moved into young adulthood. Following his studies in English at Yeshiva University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, Potok was ordained a Conservative Rabbi in 1954, shortly before serving as an Army chaplain in the Korean War. Subsequently receiving a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, Potok also worked as the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society of America before teaching at Penn State, Bryn Mawr College, and Johns Hopkins University. Two years after the publication of The Chosen, Potok penned the sequel The Promise before moving on to write plays and children's literature in addition to fiction and short stories (winning an O. Henry award in 1999 for his story Moon), and assisting Isaac Stern on his biography, My First Seventy-Nine Years. On July 23, 2002, Chaim Potok succumbed to brain cancer in his Philadelphia home. He was 73.