Green Bean Books

In the Market of Zakrobat

Written by Ori Elon
Illustrated by Menahem Halberstadt

Price: £10.99 / $12.99
Pages: 40
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781784386528
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.

Author Details

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.

Illustrator Details

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

‘Jewish legends are a wonderful source of stories for young children. This book tells a traditional legend that should resonate. 
The story tells about Baltosar, the town’s rich man, who is stingy with himself and with the rest of the world. It also describes the local shoemaker, Yosef, who works hard all week, and then prepares for Shabbat by asking the merchants, “Do you have anything magnificent today?” so he can greet the Sabbath bride. One night, Baltosar dreams of his great wealth running away from him. So he buys a large diamond and prepares to run away. But the diamond falls into the river, where it is eaten by a fish. Yosef buys the fish for Shabbat, and discovers the riches hidden inside. 
This is a wonderful tale for preschoolers and early grades… it should be considered for all libraries serving small children.’  — Association of Jewish Libraries newsletter