While Chaim Potok's central characters in The Chosen struggle between the spiritual obligations of Orthodox Judaism and secular American life, they also reflect universal conflicts between fathers and sons. The novel, Potok's first, was published in 1967 and enjoyed a wide readership, as well as critical acclaim. Potok received the Edward Lewis Wallant Award and a nomination for the National Book Award for The Chosen. The novel focuses on its two main characters, Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter, and covers their high school and college years, the period in their lives when they struggle for self-realization. Both are sons of religious fathers, but while Reuven's is orthodox and secularized, Danny's father is the head of an ultra-orthodox and mystical sect of Jews called Hasids. Rabbi Isaac Saunders, Danny's father, fully expects Danny to inherit his role as the spiritual leader of his congregation, but Danny is more interested in modern psychology. Reuven's father, David Malter, is a Hebrew scholar. The story begins with a baseball game between Reuven's and Danny's school teams. They both attend rival yeshivas, Jewish religious schools. Reuven and his classmates wear ordinary clothes and are coached by a gym teacher who is an avid baseball fan. Danny's team is coached by a religious Hasid who wears the black garments, skull cap, and earlocks traditional to his sect. Danny's team is not expected to win, but they have the reputation of being fierce. They do win the game and in the process, Danny breaks Reuven's glasses and sends him to the hospital with glass in his eye. After an initial meeting in the hospital when Danny tries to apologize for the injury, the two boys become friends. The novel explores the relationship each boy has with his own father and the relationship each develops with the other boy's father.