Biographical Data, Updated May, 2002

PERSONAL:

Born: February 17, 1929 in New York City, N.Y.
Parents: Benjamin Max (d. 1958) and Mollie (Friedman) Potok (d.1985).
Father emmigrated from Poland to the U.S. in 1921 and sold stationery before the depression and was a jeweler afterward.
Wife: Adena Sara Mosevitzsky, married June 8, 1958. The Potok's met at Camp Ramah (Poconos) in 1952. Adena is a psychiatric social worker.
Children: Rena, Naama, Akiva.
Siblings: Brother became a rabbi, both sisters married rabbis.

CHILDHOOD:

"I grew up. . .in a Hassidic world without the beard and the earlocks." (NY Times 1/3/88)

Potok started writing fiction at the age of 16. First submission was to the Atlantic Monthly at the age of 17 (the piece was not published but Potok received a complimentary note from an editor asking if he was writing a novel).

EDUCATION:

Talmudic Academy of Yeshiva College (University).
Yeshiva University (B.A., summa cum laude, in English Literature, 1950).
Jewish Theological Seminary of America (M.H.L. and rabbinic ordination, 1954).
University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D. in philosophy, 1965).

RESIDENCE:

Merion, PA, U.S.A.

CAREER:

1954-1955 National Director, Leaders Training Fellowship
1955-1957 Chaplain (1st-lieutenant) U.S. Army, served 15.5 months in Korea with a front-line medical battalion and an engineer combat battalion)
1957-1959 Director, Camp Ramah, Ojai, California
1957-1959 Instructor, University of Judaism, Los Angeles
1959-1963 Scholar-in-residence, Har Zion Temple, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1963-1964 Faculty, Teachers Institute, Jewish Theological Seminary
1964-1975 Managing editor, Conservative Judaism
1965-1974 Editor-in-chief, Jewish Publication Society of America currently
1974-present Special projects editor, Jewish Publication Society

MEMBER:

P.E.N., Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Authors League of America,
Rabbinical Assembly, Artists Equity.

WRITINGS:

Novels

The Chosen, 1967
The Promise, 1969
My Name is Asher Lev, 1972
In the Beginning, 1975
The Book of Lights, 1981
Davita's Harp, 1985
The Gift of Asher Lev, 1990
I Am the Clay, 1992
Old Men at Midnight (3 novellas), 2001
 
 
 

Children's books

The Tree of Here, 1993 (illustrated by Tony Auth)
The Sky of Now, 1995 (illustrated by Tony Auth)
Zebra and Other Stories, 1998

Non-fiction

Wanderings, 1978
Ethical Living for a Modern World: Jewish Insights
The Gates of November, 1996
My First Seventy-nine Years: Memiors of Isaac Stern, 1999

Plays

The Chosen, premiered in New York, January 1988
Out of the Depths, a drama in two acts, premiered in Philadelphia, March 1990
Sins of the Father: The Carnival and The Gallery, two one-act plays,
premiered in Philadelphia, May 1990
The Play of Lights, premiered in Philadelphia, May 1992.

Short Stories and Novellas

Het cijfer zeven (The Seven of the Address), 1990 (short stories)
De troop-leraar (The Trope Teacher), France, 1992
Het Kanaal (The Canal), Netherlands, 1993
The Golem's Hand, Italy, 1995

Short Stories, Reviews, Articles

Esquire, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times
Magazine, Commentary, Moment, Saturday Review, Seventeen,
The American Voice, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other periodicals.

AWARDS:

The Edward Lewis Wallant Award (The Chosen)
The Athenaeum Prize (The Promise)
The National Jewish Book Award for Fiction (The Gift of Asher Lev)
Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters, La Sierra University, 1997
Jewish Cultural Achievement Award, 1997
O'Henry Award, 1999 (Moon)


 

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