Chaim Potok And The Problem Of Assimilation For The American


America has been a country of immigrants since Europeans first settled it over five hundred years ago. America has always faced the problem of assimilation, a challenge faced by every country with a considerable immigrant population. Because immigrants founded America, her culture is a combination of the cultures of other countries. Should these immigrants isolate themselves from the mainstream American culture, or should they sacrifice the culture of their homelands for the benefits American culture has to offer? Judaism, one of the world’s oldest religions, has remained strong over its six thousand year history by remaining distinct – and isolated – from other cultures. Chaim Potok, in ...

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its abominations! (The Chosen 127)
The Chosen "deals with the problems Jews have faced in trying to preserve their heritage – in particular, the problem of how to deal with the danger of assimilation" (Young)). The Jews have always been professionals occupying jobs in medicine, law, education, and other fields requiring a college degree. American Jews, however, face a dilemma: "Ideas from this secular world inevitably impinge upon an individual born in a church community or a synagogue community, especially when that individual embarks ona college experience" (Potok 2). American Jews must either take on nonprofessional jobs, assuming an identity completely different from that of European Jews, or expose themselves to secular America. Isolation is thoroughly impractical for the American Jew.
Chaim Potok’s works often focus on main characters whose talents draw them to the outside world:

When individuals are brought up in the heart of such a community or ...

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The Book of Lights is set against the Korean War. In that novel, Gershon Loran travels to Korea and Japan, two countries that have never been influenced by Judaism. Loran has always been taught that Judaism is the civilizing force in Western Civilization. He must reconcile his own faith in the supremity of Judaism with this beauty that was created without any Jewish impact (Potok 6-7). The Chosen deals with the aftermath of the Holocaust and the Zionist movement. In this novel the characters handle the news of the Holocaust in different ways: Reb Saunders seeks an answer from God, while David Malther becomes a Zionist, working in the world to prevent such travesties from ...

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Added: 9/20/2006 06:35:34 AM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1606
Pages: 6

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