Potok received his rabbinical ordination and a master's degree in Hebrew literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and completed work for his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Potok has taught at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, as well as at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Before devoting full time to writing and lecturing, he served as editor of the Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia.
The author of six novels and one history, Potok says his work explores the conflicts of "individuals who are very committed to the core of their particular world, Judaism, and at the same time committed to the ideas that come to them from the core of the secular umbrella world in which they live." The piece for which he is known best, The Chosen (1967), was made into a motion picture several years ago. Other books include In the Beginning (1975) and The Book of Lights (1981), the latter recounting the experiences of a young chaplain in Korea, where Potok served from 1955 to 1957.
Chaim Potok's world speaks to Jews and non-Jews alike. Dr. Potok is widely read in both Jewish and secular texts, and is respected for his fiction and his scholarship. In addition to these accomplishments, he is a painter, and has been exhibiting since 1979.
The wide-ranging knowledge and interests of Chaim Potok, coupled with his dynamic presentational style and his skill as a storyteller, should make his visit among the most outstanding programs of the term.