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Gershon's Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year Hardcover – September 1, 2000
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Eric A. Kimmel's beautiful retelling of the traditional Hasidic legend for the Jewish New Year captures all the weighty value of responsibility and forgiveness. In his author's note, Kimmel describes the Rosh Hashanah ceremony called tashlikh, in which people gather at the seashore or by a river to recite biblical verses and turn their pockets inside out, allowing bread crumbs to fall into the water--a symbolic casting-off of sins.
Award-winning illustrator Jon J Muth's expressive and luminous watercolors, suffused with the pale golden light of day or oppressed under a lowering coastal sky, are unforgettable, as is the remarkably frightening yet stunning "immense black monster covered with scales like iron plates," on each of which is written one of Gershon's misdeeds. Muth's extraordinary work can also be seen in author Karen Hesse's lovely picture book Come On, Rain! (Ages 5 to 9) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Kimmel's ancestors came from that region, and he believes they knew him. Given his gift with story telling --- an art for which the Ba'al Shem Tov was also famous --- I can believe it. Not content, however, Kimmel also consulted work of the great 12th century Sephardic Rabbi, Moses Maimonides, known as the Ramban.
Hershel sins every day many times, but he counts himself lucky each week to be able to sweep his ill deeds aside. At the end of the year, on Rosh Hashonah, he gathers them in a giant bag, takes them to the sea and tosses them in. Kimmel derives this colorful part of Gershon's annual routine from the Jewish tradition of Tashlikh, when people walk to lakes, rivers or any moving water to toss away their crumbs. This prayerful "casting off of sins," concerns repentance and forgiveness.
But Hershel does not take the exercise seriously. He drags his satchel of sins to the sea, and then returns to his old ways --- insulting people, forgetting to say Thank You, telling little untruths here and there. He even forgets to thank the Tzaddik, the holy man, whose prayers make it possible for his childless wife Fayge to bear twins. The Tzaddik warns him, though, that his bad habits will cause problems in a few short years.
Sure enough, they do. Hershel's wife has beautiful twins, but all nearly comes to ruin. To discover how Hershel finds the path to T'Shuva and saves his family, indulge in this book brilliantly illustrated by Jon Muth. You and your children will treasure it.
--- Alyssa A. Lappen
Gershon is a baker. He lives a small, ungenerous life, never committing a 'big' sin but often doing the little wrong things that can leave a bitter taste behind. He orders rather than asks, forgets to thank people and never feels regret for his actions. Instead he stores his errors in the basement and then, at Rosh Hashanah, he follows the old tashlikh ceremony and empties his sins into the ocean as if they were bread crumbs.
One day Gershon and his wife, who are childless, decide to consult a wise man, a tzaddik, to see if they might have children. The tzaddik, modeled after Rabbi Israel ben Elieser (the nearly legendary Baal Shem Tov), warns Gershon off, telling him that all the sins he has fouled the ocean with will come back to haunt him if he has children. Gershon is not to be put off though, and the Rabbi relents. He provides a cantrip and Gershon and his wife soon have twins.
When the children are five, the Tzaddik's warning starts to come to pass, and Gershon sees the monster he has created rise from the ocean and threaten his children. For the fist time in his life Gershon truly repents and, as the monster fades away Gershon clasps his children and finally understands what he must do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Garbage haredi book. Read this with my daughter and we both hated it. Typical scare the s*** out of your kids to repent or get punished book, staight out of some catholic playbook. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Jacob2626
I purchased this book four years after I retired and no longer had access to it via my school library. Read morePublished on February 5, 2014 by Beach Guy
Wonderful story. My two children ( 3 and 7) really enjoy the story over and over. Illustrations are well done. And there's a little historical tidbit at the end. Read morePublished on November 27, 2013 by MrPringles
In this stunning book, Gershon comes to confront his sins and truly repent, but the authors of this remarkable book have put global warming in the center of this story. Read morePublished on August 22, 2013 by milkweed beetle
Themes: community, culture, quest for repentance & forgiveness
Content areas: Language Art- (elementary 2nd on up) teacher read aloud and discussion & prediction activities,... Read more
This book is very well written and illuminates the annual ritual of casting our sins into the water known as Tashlik [transliteration varies]. My kids are Kimmel fan. Read morePublished on June 12, 2007 by lafew1
I absolutely loved this book! It is very moving and heartwrenching. I must warn, however, that I really do think they misjudged the age group recommendation for this book (4 to 8... Read morePublished on September 26, 2005 by Shrink wrapped
I am disturbed by the number of 5-stars this book has gotten. I would be willing to use this book with older children (6th grade and up!) but not at all with younger ones. Read morePublished on September 23, 2005 by Phyllis Sommer