National Jewish Book Awards: Golda Meir Biography, David Grossman Win Big

The National Jewish Book Awards have selected Francine Klagsbrun’s “Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel” as the most notable Jewish book of 2017.

Other big winners included Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of The Jewish Week of New York, who won the first-ever Carolyn Starman Hessel Mentorship Award — a press release from the Jewish Book Council described the award as honoring Rosenblatt’s “support and mentorship of Jewish authors and journalists throughout his impressive career” — Dr. Edith Eva Eger’s “The Choice: Embrace the Possible,” which won the category for Biography, Autobiography and Memoir; Shari Rabin’s “Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century America,” which took home honors for American Jewish Studies; Gideon Reuveni’s “Consumer Culture and the Making of Modern Jewish Identity;” and Carol Zoref, whose “Barren Island” won the Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction.

The Forward has covered many of the prize winners and finalists; read our reviews of their award-winning books, selections of their work and more, below.


JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for Fiction: “A Horse Walks Into a Bar” by David Grossman

The Miller Family Award in Memory of Helen Dunn Weinstein and June Keit Miller Book Club Award: “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish

The Holocaust Award in Memory of Ernest W. Michel: “The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures From the Nazis” by David Fishman

Berru Award in Memory of Ruth and Bernie Weinflash for Poetry: “Waiting for the Light” by Alicia Suskin Ostriker

While the Forward didn’t cover “Waiting for the Light,” we published three poems by Ostriker in 2011.

Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award for Scholarship: “Pious Irreverence: Confronting God in Rabbinic Judaism” by Dov Weiss

In an opinion piece on the biblical qualities of conversations about Hillary Clinton’s flaws, Avraham Bronstein invoked Weiss’s exploration of rabbinic criticism of God. “The effect of collecting several instances in which God’s actions are legitimately open to criticism might be analogous to a Democratic Party ad urging voters to support Clinton despite her Iraq War vote, paid speeches and ‘super-predators’ comment,” Bronstein wrote.

Visual Arts: “Arthur Szyk: Soldier in Art” by Irvin Ungar

“Soldier in Art” accompanied an exhibit at the New York Historical Society of the same name, which Daniel Witkin reviewed for the Forward. “Szyk’s propaganda efforts seem rooted less in workmanlike duty or patriotic zeal than in a sort of existential necessity,” Witkin wrote. “Well aware of the danger posed by Hitler, Szyk had incorporated anti-Nazi in his work as early as 1934 works for his Haggadah (published in the UK in 1940).”

The JDC-Herbert Katzki Award for Writing Based on Archival Material: “Confessions of the Shtetl: Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906” by Ellie R. Schainker


Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award for Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice: “My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew” by Abigail Pogrebin

Pogrebin’s book began life as a yearlong series of columns for the Forward titled “Wondering Jew;” the complete collection of those articles is available here.

The Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award for History: “Jewish Comedy: A Serious History” by Jeremy Dauber

Visual Arts: “Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist” Jens Hoffmann and Claudia Nahson

Given Jens Hoffman’s recent termination from the Jewish Museum, following an internal investigation into accusations of sexual harassment against him, the catalogue he co-authored with Nahson earning a spot as a finalist for this year’s Awards might raise a few eyebrows. The Forward interviews Hoffman about the exhibit that the catalogue accompanied in 2016.


Talya Zax

Talya Zax

Talya Zax is the Forward’s deputy culture editor. Contact her at or on Twitter, @TalyaZax.

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