Written by Ori Elon
Illustrated by Menahem Halberstadt
Price: £10.99 / $12.99
Subject: Classic Jewish tale about a miser and a cobbler
Adapted from an ancient Babylonian Jewish folktale, which can be found in the Gemara.
Celebrates generosity of spirit and a love of Shabbat.
Beautifully and humorously told with stunning illustrations throughout.
Baltosar lives in a giant fortress in the town of Zakrobat. Despite the thirteen boxes of gold coins locked away in his house, he prides himself on how frugally he lives.
Yosef, Baltosar’s neighbour, is a hardworking cobbler who lives in poverty. Yet every Friday he goes to the market to buy something special for Shabbat and he is famous for his festive Shabbat meals.
One night, Baltosar dreams that his boxes of gold grow feet and run away to Yosef. He wakes up screaming in terror and vows that Yosef will never have a penny of his great fortune. He comes up with the perfect scheme to keep his riches safe, or at least safe from Yosef, but things don’t quite go according to plan.
Told with humour and a lightness of touch, this classic fable of a miser’s comeuppance celebrates generosity of spirit and the joy of Shabbat as all the riches a person needs.
Ori Elon is an award-winning Israeli filmmaker and writer. He is the author of Invisible Show, which won the Israeli Ministry of Culture Best Novel award. He has written several children’s books including The Chickens that were Turned into Goats and King Gogle. He is the co-creator and writer of the critically acclaimed television drama Shtisel which won 17 Israeli Academy Awards. He was one of the writers of the drama series Srugim, the miniseries Autonomous and the comedy The Choir.
Menahem Halberstadt studied painting and drawing under the instruction of the famous Israeli artists Leonid Balaklav and Aram Gershuni. Following this, he studied animation at the Betzalel Academy and graphic design at Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem. He works as an illustrator with a number of publishing houses in Israel and lives in Israel with his wife and four children.
‘The Talmudic story about Yosef, a poor man whose unerring love for the observance of Shabbat grants his life dignity and purpose, has been recreated for young children by Ori Elon and Menahem Halberstadt in their book In the Market of Zakrobat. With textual attention to the details that convey meaning in a simple way, and with delicately beautiful pictures, both author and illustrator convince their readers of an important truth; holding on to material possession brings their owner nothing, while sharing enriches both the generous person and those who benefit from his or her kindness. Its ancient setting and fairy tale quality pair with a clear sense of relevance today, as two very different characters contrast to make a gentle point about leading a meaningful life…. Halberstadt’s characters are comic and dignified at the same time. The cartoon-like simplicity and exaggeration of their faces make them recognizable types; the wealthy miser [Baltosar] radiates resentment, but the man of faith is able to appreciate what he has. When Yosef finds a giant gem inside his carefully chosen Shabbat fish, two pictures define his personality. In the first, he raises one eyebrow in astonishment, then he embraces his young daughter. At the meal where he has invited everyone to enjoy his good fortune, he raises his arms in their frayed sleeves and closes his eyes, transported to a level of happiness that Baltosar will never know. Elon and Halberstadt’s interpretation of Yosef’s story is as sweet and rewarding as Yosef’s Shabbat celebration.’ – Jewish Book Council
Ori Elon co-created the popular Israeli TV show/Netflix series Shtisel, and he brings the same winning combination of deep Jewish rootedness and up-to-date storytelling sensibility to this delightful picture book…. His lively, sometimes-silly storytelling is well matched by Menahem Halberstadt’s colorful art, which is cartoonish but never crass. People are depicted with varying skin tones, hair types, and styles of dress, reflecting the ethnic diversity of a place that was an international crossroads…. The story, which opens by mentioning the Gemara, is thoroughly Jewish. The lesson about the mitzvah of honoring Shabbat is crystal clear, but never explicitly stated as a lesson. Restoring the much-told tale to its Babylonian source is a welcome touch, and Elon and Halberstadt’s light-hearted treatment will appeal to today’s readers, whether they’re hearing the story for the hundredth time, or the first.’ – The Sydney Taylor Shmooze