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Jewish Response from to the New Fantasy Fiction Novel, "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

Philadelphia, PA, June 19, 2013 --( While there are many responses and reviews written in response to Neil Gaiman’s new fantasy novel, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” the one place you wouldn’t expect to weigh-in is a website of Jewish content. But that’s exactly what happened earlier this week.

“Before writing the article,” stated Yonatan Gordon, founder of, “I debated whether to write it at all. The obvious question is how we can write something light-filled, about a novel so extraordinarily dark. Then I resolved that I would only go forward if there was something explicitly worthwhile to say.”

Yonatan set for himself a very simple guideline. Gaiman’s novel, was scheduled to be released on Tuesday, June 18th, or the third reading of the Torah portion of Balak. If he could find a clear correspondence between Gaiman’s novel, and the third Torah reading, then he would venture forth to write the article. Being as he proceeded onward, he found the allusion he was looking for.

Besides the fact that the reading speaks about the magic practicing Moabite dignitaries, he noticed something else quite striking. Near the end of the reading, there is a verse which reads “When Balak [King of Moab] heard that Bil’am was coming, he went out to meet him to the city of Moab, which is on the boundary of Arnon, at the very edge of the boundary.” (Numbers 22:36)

“For most of the Torah portion, Balak is trying to get Bil’am to curse the Jewish people,” as Yonatan goes on to explain. “But as God repeatedly refuses to allow it, each attempt leads in a failed result. In this sentence though, Balak’s intention was to show Bil’am quite literally ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane.’”

The article then goes on to explain the meaning of this ocean, by calling attending to a mysterious story about a miracle that occurred at this valley of Arnon. But Yonatan insists that while his ocean has bones also, it is of a different sort altogether.

“The remains in our account are those of the Amorites, enemies of the Jewish people at the time,” stated Yonatan. “Instead of the discovery of these bones being something grim and dreary, it called attention to fact that God had secretly washed away the enemies of the Jewish people.”

When asked whether he thinks Gaiman had any of this in mind while writing, Yonatan replied simply that, “It doesn’t make much of a difference whether he did or not. Our job is to judge the results, and the results speak volumes.

Yonatan’s entire response can be read on his site

About The Author

Yonatan has spent most of his past 13 professional years in the world of Jewish publishing. He was the Marketing Manager at Kehot Publication Society (publishing arm of Chabad) for the better part of six years. He also founded Dwelling Place Publishing, which gave him the opportunity to meet many authors, educators, stores and others in the greater publishing world.

The vision behind founding Community of Readers was to foster a Jewish approach to the disciplines of writing and publishing. Because these fields are so fundamental to a great variety of interests and pursuits, the outcome is often spontaneous and surprising.
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Yonatan Gordon

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