Leader's Discussion Guide for As A Driven Leaf
"Did you hear the news? Milton Steinberg died last night."
"REALLY? HE WAS YOUNG."
"Now they're punishing him for his books"
IT WAS THIS EXCHANGE, overheard in a crowded hallway during a break between classes, that originally prompted a young Chaim Potok to seek out the writings of the apparently subversive rabbi, scholar, and novelist, Milton Steinberg.
Potok soon became frustrated in his search. When he asked the librarian why he could not find any of Steinberg's work in the college's collection, her abrupt response only piqued his interest further. "We do not keep his books here. He is from that other school, and a heretic."
Who was this scandalous Milton Steinberg? Why were Potok's classmates convinced of the posthumous blacklisting of his heretical books? Was he struck down at a young age in judgment by the Almighty? And what provoked the epithet "heretic"? These were the provocative questions that first sparked Chaim Potok's interest in Steinberg's life and work. These same questions continue to draw today's readers to Milton Steinberg's formidable novel, As A Driven Leaf.
This Guide is designed to stimulate thoughtful discussion about the central themes, historical period, and theological questions presented in Milton Steinberg's As A Driven Leaf. Since being reissued in 1996, with a new foreword by Chaim Potok, this classic novel has found a receptive audience in an entirely new generation of readers. The book has been a particularly popular reading selection in congregational adult education and lay leadership programs.
The creation of this Leader's Discussion Guide was sparked by a unique honor bestowed upon the book almost 60 years after its initial publication: its designation as one of "Four Significant Jewish Books" by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, as part of its campaign to promote adult education. Its selection testifies to the significance accorded the novel by Jewish leaders working in adult Jewish literacy Noted Jewish educator Alan D. Bennett, R.J.E., originally presented much of the material in this Leader's Guide in the UAHC's "Four Significant Jewish Books" curriculum.