Chaim Potok was a novelist who paved the way for a younger generation of religious American Jewish writers -- and a Jewish scholar who worked tirelessly to bring Jews and Judaism closer together.
From the vantage point of our already traumatic new millennium, "Old Men at Midnight," celebrated author Chaim Potok's latest collection of three novellas, requires us to look back in anguish at a wrenching picture of the 20th century.
"This America of yours is not a country that values history," says the character Mr. Zapiski, a World War I soldier who has become a melancholy teacher of Torah trope in New York. "Where I was raised, history was the heart and marrow of a person." That is why, as she herself moves from teenager to older woman in this collection, Ilana Davita Dinn, who first appeared in Potok's 1985 novel "Davita's Harp," persists in eliciting from each of the main characters the personal story, however wrenching, of their lives.