Cover image for Chosen by God : a brother's journey
Chosen by God : a brother's journey
Hammer, Joshua, 1957-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 241 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F130.J5 H36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
F130.J5 H36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In this powerful inspection of his relationship with his brother, Newsweek reporter Hammer focuses on the sibling's entrance into Hasidic Jewish society. Having been raised, like brother Tony, in New York City as a secular, nonobservant Jew, Hammer was repelled and estranged for years by his sibling's adopted black-clad life. But the conversion experience intrigued him, and he initiated a rapprochement with Tony, who had adopted the name Tuvia. In turn, Tuvia allowed, warily at first, Joshua to participate in Hasidic rituals at the fundamentalist enclave he moved to in the suburbs. Amid detached yet sympathetic observations of life as regulated by the Talmud, Hammer interlineates scenes from his and Tony's upbringing to convey his sense of what impelled Tuvia's total transformation. Perhaps their parents' divorce and the deaths of two friends and a sister unanchored Tony. Or maybe Hasidism fit Tony's pattern of taking his enthusiasms to extremes, as he had for acting, campaign politics, and Das Kapital. A memoir with understated emotional impact, Hammer's story potently explores the universals of sibling rivalry and religious commitment. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

What happens when two brothers' paths deviate because one becomes a religious fundamentalist? This question is sensitively explored in this absorbing and deeply felt memoir. Hammer is a successful journalist, having written articles for several national magazines and served as foreign correspondent and Los Angeles Bureau Chief for Newsweek. In this, his first book, his journalistic experience is evidenced by a well-written, accessible account and easy-to-read prose. Hammer focuses on his relationship with his younger brother, Tony (now called Tuvia, "the Blessed One of God"), four years his junior. Originally a liberal Jew, Tony was involved in politics as a youth and aspired to an acting career. On a trip to Israel, he became attracted to a Hasidic yeshiva, and on his return sought out a counterpart in Monsey, N.Y., home to several pious sects. He accepted an arranged marriage, produced a large family and devoted himself to full-time study of the Torah and the Talmud. After 16 years of practically no contact, Hammer visited his brother and his family eight times during the course of a year, attempting to understand his brother's decision to renounce the secular world. Hammer scrutinizes the impact of Tuvia's ultra-Orthodox beliefs and practices on their nonobservant parents. He pulls no punches in describing Tuvia's life, including what he sees as his brother's religious extremism and racism, but admires his devotion and wishes him success. This perceptive narrative warmly recounts how, in one case, tolerant acceptance gradually replaced suspicious mistrust. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In his first book, Newsweek correspondent Hammer writes about his troubled younger brother, Tony. The two brothers, children of divorce, had always taken different paths. Joshua, the older, more responsible son, had followed in his father's footsteps and become a noted journalist. Tony, always unsure of himself, found certainty and guidance during a trip to Israel, where he became an orthodox Jew. His lifestyle alienated his family, and Joshua lost contact with Tony, now Tuyve, for many years. In this book, Hammer insightfully details their reunion, recounting the time he spent with Tuyve and his large family in an orthodox suburb of New York. We see that Tuyve remains a troubled figureÄhe still has difficulty holding down a jobÄbut spirtuality provides meaning for him and his family. An insightful look at modern orthodox Jewish life from the inside, this book can be enjoyed by Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike. It is interesting to compare this book to a film on a similar transformation, The Return: The Story of a Young Jewish Couple's Journey to Orthodoxy (Video Reviews, LJ 5/15/99). Recommended for large general libraries and all libraries serving a Jewish clientele.ÄPaul M. Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.