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The Broken and the Whole

The Broken and the Whole

Discovering Joy after Heartbreak

A wise, uplifting memoir about a rabbi’s search for understanding and his discovery of hope and joy after his young son suffered acatastrophic brain-stem stroke that left him a quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator for each breath

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 to 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 is a moving, affecting, and inspiring meditation on what it means to embrace life after everything you’ve known has been shattered to pieces.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451656169 | 
  • March 2014
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About the Author

Charles S. Sherman
Photograph by Duane Sauro, Sauro Photography

Charles S. Sherman

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.

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