Chaim Potok


This summer when my world had been overturned and I needed something worthy and gentle to both expand and console me, Chaim Potok was waiting for me in a bookstore. The same author's My Name Is Asher Lev was one of the most wondrous reads of my life, a tale of an Orthodox Jew who has to overcome every type of restriction in order to follow his calling as an artist.

The Book of Lights has the same feel, in this case the hero is a mystic who has little understanding of his own powers but becomes an influential chaplain in the American forces during the Korean War. This author's books build up into a beautiful tapestry of the human life and spirit. As a first read, I would recommend I was Asher Lev, but follow through to this writer's oeuvre and I doubt you'll be disappointed. Coming from outside the tradition Orthodox Judaism as a backdrop may be short on instant appeal, but I know of no book that takes humanity more wholeheartedly as its subject. The author died in July, but you'll still find his glow in his work.

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