The Broken and the Whole

Discovering Joy after Heartbreak

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About The Book

A wise, uplifting memoir about a rabbi’s search for understanding and his discovery of hope and joy after his young son suffered a catastrophic brain-stem stroke: “Deeply moving, extraordinarily thought-provoking, and entirely humane” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

As a young, ambitious rabbi at one of New York’s largest synagogues, Charles Sherman had high expectations for what his future would hold—a happy and healthy family, professional success, and recognition. Then, early one morning in 1986, everything changed. His son Eyal spiked a fever and was soon in serious respiratory distress. Doctors discovered a lesion on the four-year-old’s brain stem. Following high-risk surgery, Eyal suffered a stroke. Sherman and his wife later learned that their son would never walk, talk, feed himself, or breathe on his own again—yet his mind was entirely intact. He was still the curious, intelligent boy they had always known.

The ground had shifted beneath the Sherman family’s feet, yet over the next thirty years, they were able to find comfort, pleasure, and courage in one another, their community, their faith, and in the love they shared. The experience pointed Rabbi Sherman toward the answers of some of life’s biggest questions: To what lengths should parents go to protect their children? How can we maintain faith in God when tragedy occurs? Is it possible to experience joy alongside continuing heartbreak?

Now, with deep insight, refreshing honesty, humor, and intelligence, Charles Sherman reflects back on his life and describes his struggle to address and ultimately answer these questions. The Broken and the Whole “inspirationally sets forth how to survive in the face of calamity” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) beautifully showing what it means to embrace life after everything you’ve known has been shattered to pieces.

About The Author

Photograph by Duane Sauro, Sauro Photography

Charles S. Sherman is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Adath Yeshurun, the largest synagogue in Central New York. Active in numerous faith-based and secular organizations, he has received many awards for his service and has been a respected member of his community for over forty years. He and his wife, Leah, parents of five children, live with their son Eyal in Syracuse, New York.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (March 10, 2015)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451656237

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Raves and Reviews

“The reader will come away with admiration for the courage of a young boy and for the boundless dedication of his devoted family. A deeply moving book.”

– Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

“A work redolent with the wisdom and the joy wrung from pain. Eyal and his family deepen our understanding of what it means to love.”

– Rabbi David J. Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, and author of Why Faith Matters

"This is truly an unforgettable and amazing story—heart wrenching, inspiring, and ultimately reassuring. There’s no denying the searing pain of heartbreak, but also no denying the strength of the human spirit to carry on. I can't imagine a person that this wonderful book won't touch. I loved reading every page."

– Wolf Blitzer, CNN Anchor

"For anyone who has ever asked 'How can I possibly survive this?' Charles Sherman has written The Broken and The Whole. This heartfelt and honest memoir of life with his severely disabled son, Eyal, is a soaring poem of hope that gently leads the reader to a place of renewed joy - no matter how impossible or painful the circumstances."

– Kay Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA

"This straightforward story of triumph and tragedy will tug at the hearts of its readers...Connecting incidents from life to sources in Jewish theology, Sherman inspirationally sets forth how to survive in the face of calamity, making this a memorable statement."

– Publishers Weekly starred review

"A meaningful portrayal of how tragedy affected and transformed one family and especially one religious leader...Deeply moving, extraordinarily thought-provoking and entirely humane."

– Kirkus Reviews

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