By Jonathan Mandell
09 Nov 2012
As a teenager who was already committed to a life in the arts, Naama Potok was "extremely moved" when she read "My Name Is Asher Lev," a novel about a young man who feels compelled to become an artist even though his family is opposed to it. Her father, Chaim Potok, wrote the novel.
Forty years after the novel's publication, a stage adaptation of it by Aaron Posner is launching Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre with Naama Potok in the cast. She is the understudy for Asher's mother.
The novelist drew partly from personal experience: "He started painting before he started writing," his daughter learned. "Apparently, this was really frowned upon by his father."
Though ordained as a rabbi, and descended from a Hasid dynasty, Chaim Potok did not grow up in a Hasidic household. He turned his characters into Hasids to heighten the opprobrium Asher must overcome. ("There are Hasidim who are artists today," Naama Potok says. "There's more acceptance now.")Continued...