• In the Beginning by Chaim Potok

    chaim potok in the beginningChaim Potok is better known for the novels The Chosen and The Promise, and the Asher Lev books, but In The Beginning is just as powerful and adds sufficiently more in terms of the Jewish experience in America and how that related to events in Europe, that it may even be his best.

    The background to the novel is the initial exodus of Polish Jews from Europe to America in the wake of The Lwów pogrom (also called the Lemberg pogrom) which took place in November, 1918.

    What is special about In The Beginning is how well Chaim Potok describes childhood, particularly the very early years of this boy’s life.  It is a very patient book and this reflects the slow awakening that children experience, in this case vastly heightened as the young character David is awakened to Jewishness, to his family’s own history, his own ill-health and what is to become a lifelong study of Talmud, in an effort to establish some kind of truth about himself and life.