The Schmooze

National Jewish Book Award Winners Are Here

The Jewish Book Council has announced the recipients of the 2015 National Jewish Book Awards. The council began giving out this award — the most prestigious of its kind — in 1948. Past winners include Philip Roth, Chaim Potok and Cynthia Ozick. It’s a pretty important way of giving recognition to the year’s most outstanding Jewish books! Check out the full lists of winners and finalists below:

Jewish Book of the Year

Everett Family Foundation Award

Yale University Press’s Jewish Lives Series
​Ileene Smith, editorial director
Steven J. Zipperstein and Anita Shapira, series editor​s

American Jewish Studies

Celebrate 350 Award

Winner:

“The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed Their Way to Success in America and the British Empire”
Adam D. Mendelsohn
NYU Press

Finalists:

“After They Closed the Gates: Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965”
Libby Garland
The University of Chicago Press

Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

The Krauss Family Award in Memory of Simon & Shulamith (Sofi) Goldberg

Winner:

“The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World”
George Prochnik
Other Press

Finalists:

“Little Failure: A Memoir”
Gary Shteyngart
Random House

“Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History”
Joseph Telushkin
HarperWave

“David: The Divided Heart”
David Wolpe
Yale University Press

Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Winner:

“Spinoza: The Outcast Thinker”
Devra Lehmann
Namelos

Finalists:

“Storm”
Donna Jo Napoli
Simon and Schuster

“Tucson Jo”
Carol Matas
Fictive Press

“I Lived on Butterfly Hill”
Marjorie Agosin; Lee White, illus.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice

Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award

Winner:

“A Guide to the Complex: Contemporary Halakhic Debates”
Shlomo M. Brody
Maggid

Finalists:

“Maps and Meaning: Levitical Models for Contemporary Care”
Jo Hirschmann and Nancy H. Wiener
Fortress Press

“The December Project: An Extraordinary Rabbi and a Skeptical Seeker Confront Life’s Greatest Mystery”
Sara Davidson
HarperOne

“The Soul of Jewish Social Justice”
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
Urim Publications

Education and Jewish Identity

In Memory of Dorothy Kripke


Winner:

“A Philosophy of Havruta: Understanding and Teaching the Art of Text Study in Pairs”
Elie Holzer with Orit Kent
Academic Studies Press

Finalist:

“Got Religion?: How Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues Can Bring Young People Back”
Naomi Schaefer Riley
Templeton Press

Fiction

JJ Greenberg Memorial Award

Winner:

“The Betrayers”
David Bezmozgis
Little, Brown and Company

Finalists:

“The UnAmericans”
Molly Antopol
W.W. Norton & Company

“The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.”
Gina B. Nahai
Akashic Books

“A Replacement Life”
Boris Fishman
HarperCollins

“To Rise Again at a Decent Hour”
Joshua Ferris
Little, Brown and Company

History

Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award

Winner:

“The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe”
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern
Princeton University Press

Finalists:

“Herzl’s Vision: Theodor Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State”
Shlomo Avineri; Haim Watzman, trans.
BlueBridge

“We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, A Documentary History”
Gary Philip Zola
Southern Illinois University Press

Holocaust

Winner:

“Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust—Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour”
James A. Grymes
Harper Perennial

Finalists:

“Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer”
Bettina Stangneth; Ruth Martin, trans.
Knopf

“Gates of Tears: The Holocaust in the Lublin District”
David Silberklangr
Yad Vashem

“Conscripted Slaves: Hungarian Jewish Forced Laborers on the Eastern Front During the Second World War”
Robert Rozett
Yad Vashem

Illustrated Children’s Book

Louis Posner Memorial Award

Winner:

“The Patchwork Torah”
Allison Ofanansky; Elsa Oriol, illus.
Kar-Ben Publishing

Finalists:

“Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain”
Jacqueline Jules
Wisdom Tales

“The Whispering Town”
Jennifer Elvgren; Fabio Santomauro, illus.
Kar-Ben Publishing

“Modern Jewish Thought and Experience”
Dorot Foundation Award in Memory of Joy Ungerleider Mayerson

Winner:

“The Koren Ani Tefillah Siddur”
Jay Goldmintz and Jonathan Sacks
Koren Publishers Jerusalem

Finalists:

“On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and His Neighbor and Man and His Maker”
Daniel Sperber
Urim Publications

“Maps and Meaning: Levitical Models for Contemporary Care”
Jo Hirschmann and Nancy H. Wiener
Fortress Press

“Israel: Is It Good for the Jews?”
Richard Cohen
Simon & Schuster

“Outstanding Debut Fiction”
Foundation for Jewish Culture’s Goldberg Prize

Winner:

“The Mathematician’s Shiva”
Stuart Rojstaczer
Penguin Books

Finalists:

“The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street”
Susan Jane Gilman
Grand Central Publishing

“The Marrying of Chani Kaufman”
Eve Harris
Grove Press, Black Cat

“The UnAmericans”
Molly Antopol
W.W. Norton & Company

“You Shall Know Our Names”
Ezekiel Nieto Benzion
CreateSpace

Scholarship

Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award

Winner:

“Outside the Bible, 3-Volume Set: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture”
Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman, eds.
Jewish Publication Society

Finalist:

“We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, A Documentary History”
Gary Philip Zola
Southern Illinois University Press

Sephardic Culture

Mimi S. Frank Award in Memory of Becky Levy

Winner:

“Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700–1950”
Julia Cohen and Sarah Abrevaya Stein, eds.
Stanford University Press

Finalists:

“The Business of Identity: Jews, Muslims and Economic Life in Medieval Egypt”
Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Stanford University Press

“Mediterranean Enlightenment: Livornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-Century Reform”
Francesca Bregoli
Stanford University Press

“Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era”
Julia Phillips Cohen
Oxford University Press

Women’s Studies

Barbara Dobkin Award

Winner:

“A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987”
Kathryn Hellerstein
Stanford University Press

Finalists:

“Practicing Piety in Medieval Ashkenaz: Men, Women, and Everyday Religious Observance”
Elisheva Baumgarten
University of Pennsylvania Press

“Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of our Lives”
Sue Levi Elwell and Nancy Fuchs Kreimer
Wipf and Stock Publishers

Writing Based on Archival Material

The JDC-Herbert Katzki Award

Winner:

“Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era”
Julia Phillips Cohen
Oxford University Press

Finalists:

“Mediterranean Enlightenment: Livornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-Century Reform”
Francesca Bregoli
Stanford University Press

“Jewish Rights, National Rites: Nationalism and Autonomy in Late Imperial and Revolutionary Russia”
Simon Rabinovitch
Stanford University Press

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National Jewish Book Award Winners Are Here

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