Lisa Says… Read This Book by Chaim Potok

By Lisa Hamilton

My Name is Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok

Chaim Potok was an American Jewish author and Rabbi with a long list of award winning novels, the most popular and notable is probably The Chosen, written in 1967. Another beautifully written and moving book is My Name is Asher Lev, the story of a young Hassidic Jewish boy in post war Brooklyn. The story follows the journey of Asher and his choice of a life as a painter over his religious commitments to faith and family.

Asher is driven to paint everything he can, even though his father has told him that Jews do not paint and are not artists; it is considered a sin. Much of the novel focuses on the tension between Asher and his father and his artistic gift that threatens to estrange him from his religious community and the parents he loves.

Asher draws everything; his home, his family, friends, strangers – everything. Potok’s ability to convey to the reader the imagination and desire to become a great artist is incredible. As Asher travels the world and is mentored by the greats, he consistently struggles with the moral choices of art and faith.

This novel gave me great insight into the mind and soul of an artist. The quality of Chaim Potok’s story is extraordinary, imaginatively wonderful yet morally strenuous. Amazing!

About this writer

  • Lisa Hamilton A native South Carolinian, Lisa Hamilton is the director of the First Presbyterian Church Preschool and Kindergarten. Of course she loves reading, but also finds time for cooking and walking her dog, Hurley.

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