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 editors
American Jewish Studies
Celebrate 350 Award
“The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed Their Way to Success in America and the British Empire”
Adam D. Mendelsohn
“After They Closed the Gates: Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965”
The University of Chicago Press
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir
The Krauss Family Award in Memory of Simon & Shulamith (Sofi) Goldberg
“The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World”
“Little Failure: A Memoir”
“Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History”
“David: The Divided Heart”
Yale University Press
Children’s and Young Adult Literature
“Spinoza: The Outcast Thinker”
Donna Jo Napoli
Simon and Schuster
“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
“A Guide to the Complex: Contemporary Halakhic Debates”
Shlomo M. Brody
“Maps and Meaning: Levitical Models for Contemporary Care”
Jo Hirschmann and Nancy H. Wiener
“The December Project: An Extraordinary Rabbi and a Skeptical Seeker Confront Life’s Greatest Mystery”
“The Soul of Jewish Social Justice”
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
Education and Jewish Identity
In Memory of Dorothy Kripke
“A Philosophy of Havruta: Understanding and Teaching the Art of Text Study in Pairs”
Elie Holzer with Orit Kent
Academic Studies Press
“Got Religion?: How Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues Can Bring Young People Back”
Naomi Schaefer Riley
JJ Greenberg Memorial Award
Little, Brown and Company
W.W. Norton & Company
“The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.”
Gina B. Nahai
“A Replacement Life”
“To Rise Again at a Decent Hour”
Little, Brown and Company
Reuven Namdar in New York. Photo by Beth Kissileff.
In a time when the famed British Man Booker Prize has been opened to writers in English from all countries, Israel too has achieved a milestone. For the first time in its 14 years, the Sapir Prize, given by Mif’al Ha-Payis (Israel’s national lottery), has on its long list of 12 novels one by New York based writer Reuven Namdar.
Though it is in part a meditation on the service of a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem, Namdar’s novel, “The Ruined House,” takes place entirely in New York City, and is based in locales like the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Morningside Heights and Wave Hill in the Bronx (called View Hill in the book). This unprecedented level of recognition for Hebrew writers living and working outside of Israel speaks to a different side of Israeli literature and an awareness of how it is widening.
The rest of the list also indicates a sense of wide horizons. It includes past nominee and the author of over 20 books Lea Aini, for “Daughter of the Place”; veteran writer Galit Distel Etebaryan for “Peacock on the Steps”; Celine Assayag for “Overturned Cry”; Nir Baram for “World Shadow,” and Hagit Grossman for “Lila and Louis.”
A chronicle of Nazi persecution of gay people, a study of Jews and obscenity, and a haunting artistic collaboration are among the wide-ranging winners of this year’s Canadian Jewish Book Awards. After an announcement last week, the awards will be presented at a May 27 ceremony in Toronto.
With its other accolades for a Holocaust diary, a poetic history of Salonika’s Jews, and a novel about Jewish immigrants in South Africa, this year’s honor roll defies easy categorization. “It was an excellent year for Jewish books,” said Natalie Kertes, director of literary programs at Toronto’s Koffler Centre of the Arts, which runs the awards.
The common thread binding 2014’s far-flung winners? “Superb writing,” said Kertes, who also oversees this month’s Toronto Jewish Literary Festival. “It’s often easy to conflate a great story or theme or strong research with really strong writing. It’s really exciting to be able to say that all of the winners this year are exceptionally written, in addition to having strong content.”
What the prize-winners don’t all share, however, is Jewishness. And Ken Setterington, author of “Branded by the Pink Triangle” (Second Story Press), said the award has even more meaning for him as a result.
The biggest point of contention with this year’s Sapir Prize, Israel’s equivalent to the Booker, was who the judges were and how they came to their shortlist of five nominees. But controversy should not take away from the achievement of winner Noa Yedlin for her “Ba’alat Bayit” or “House Arrest,” her second novel. Yedlin works as a journalist and is currently the deputy editor of the weekend magazine of the Ma’ariv newspaper; her first book was a collection of her columns “You ask, God replies” (2005), and her second a novel, “Track Changes” (2010). As winner, Yedlin will receive a 150,000 NIS prize, translation of her novel into Arabic and into another language of her choice.
The novel is about a family from the elite Ashkenazi echelons of Jerusalem society and their house on Al-harizi Street in Rehavia, a prestigious and older neighborhood, quiet and leafy. The Fogel’s 40-year-old son, Asa Fogel, a divorced and unemployed PhD in New Age culture from a critical perspective, lives there and pays rent to his mother, Elisheva. She is a professor and the head of a prosperous center for peace studies. She is also accused of embezzling 3.4 million shekels from the research institute. The Fogel siblings, a real estate agent and a psychiatrist who is developing a reality TV show to give psychiatric advice to adolescents, fall out on different sides of the question about the guilt of their mother. Asa, is most entangled — his ex-wife had an affair with the journalist who first broke the embezzlement story and he does not know whether his mother is using him as a cover for her own dealings or not.
The National Jewish Book Council has announced the winners of the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards.
The Award, now in its 63rd year, is given in 17 categories including fiction, history, poetry, scholarship and the Everett Family Foundation Award for Jewish Book of the Year.
Honorees this year include Yossi Klein Halevi for “Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation”; Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman for “FDR and the Jews”; Ari Shavit for “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel,” and Amos Oz for “Between Friends.”
The prizes will be awarded March 5 at a ceremony at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan. Read a complete list of winners and finalists here, and an excerpt from ‘Like Dreamers’ in the Forward, here.
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