The Cholent Brigade

The Cholent Brigade

By:  Herman, Michael
Harmer, Sharon

$25.99 Hardback
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Lerner Publishing Group

Limited ***

10.8 X 9.2 in
24 pg

JUVENILE FICTION / Social Themes / New Experience

When a big snowstorm hits, Monty Nudelman happily shovels his neighbors' sidewalks, driveways, cars, and steps—until he hurts his back. Now he can barely move! He can't even make his Shabbat lunch. Luckily, his neighbors have all made cholent—a delicious Shabbat stew. The neighborhood kids form a "cholent brigade" to bring Monty Nudelman a tasty feast. Cholent to the rescue!

"Mr. Monty Nudelman is a mensch (good person). On Friday morning following a big storm, he happily shovels snow from the sidewalks, alleys and front porches of his neighbors so they can prepare for Shabbat. When he does not show up for Shabbat services on Saturday morning, the congregation is worried. They learn he is home because he hurt his back shoveling snow – for all of them! Just before lunch, neighborhood children are sent to Monty’s home with bowls, pots and thermoses filled with cholent (Shabbat stew) – a Cholent Brigade – to help him feel better. The children stay to help him eat all the varieties of cholent 'each dish filled with warmth and comfort, happiness and friendship,' and on Sunday morning they return to shovel Monty’s yard.

This sweet, simple story of friendship, bikkur cholim (visiting the sick)and tikkun olam (repairing the world), is a wonderful lesson for the current times. The illustrations, a mixture of digital art combined with hand drawings and paint, are colorful and perfectly reflect a snow covered town. There is a recipe for cholent in the back of the book."—Association of Jewish LibrariesOther Print

This picture book is entirely predictable, and that may be a good thing. Monty Nudelman is the sort of neighbor everybody wants. He spends hours volunteering to shovel other people's yards. The text is very eloquent: 'He shoveled walkways, alleyways, steps and stoops.' He's so kind that the story pretty much demands that something terrible will happen to him, and it does. His back seizes up with a 'fiery pain.' And because this story isn't even the slightest bit cynical, almost every reader will see the happy ending coming: the people at his synagogue all help to shovel his sidewalk, and they make sure he has food to eat on the Jewish Sabbath. Even more-than-a-bit-cynical readers may be moved to see a whole community working together, without needing to be asked. And the book is full of small delights, most of them involving cholent, the traditional Jewish stew Monty loves to eat. There's a recipe at the end of the book and a colorful, illustrated scene that describes 'cholent with short ribs and sweet potatoes, and even chili cholent.' Harmer's pictures show that the Jewish community is refreshingly multiracial. There are no surprises here, but the acts of kindness don't feel like a plot convention. They feel like a philosophy for life. It's touching to see a town where kindness is no surprise."—Kirkus ReviewsJournal

Michael Herman has a passion for Jewish history and tradition and enjoys collecting antique Judaica. Every Friday evening he lights a 19th-century hanging Sabbath lamp of his own. Michael lives in Chicago, Illinois.


Sharon Harmer lives and works on the south coast of England, and has illustrated many children's books. She enjoys creating characters, and her illustrations are a mixture of traditional and digital art, incorporating hand drawn line and painted textures.