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Michael David Lukas Wins 2019 Sami Rohr Prize For Jewish Literature

On April 30 the Jewish Book Council named Michael David Lukas the winner of the 2019 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, the largest prize in the world of Jewish letters.

Lukas is the author of the novel “The Last Watchman of Old Cairo” and a 2018 National Jewish Book Award winner. The book tells a sprawling, multi-generational story about magic, love and faith centered on an ancient synagogue in Cairo.

Winners of the Rohr Prize, awarded since 2007 to honor early career writers whose work explores Jewish themes, receive $100,000.

Finalists for the Prize include Dalia Rosenfeld, author of the short story collection “The World’s We Think We Know” who was named the Choice Award winner, and three Sam Rohr Prize Fellows, Rachel Kadish, Mark Sarvas and Margot Singer. Rosenfeld will receive $18,000 and the Fellows will each be awarded $5,000.

“The extraordinary work of each of these five emerging authors is a blessing to the Jewish world,” George Rohr, the businessman and philanthropist who, with his sisters, established the prize in honor of his father, Sami, said in a statement. “We are delighted to be a part of this well-earned recognition.”

“What an honor to be chosen for the prize, and to have my name listed alongside such an amazing group of writers,” Lukas said in a statement, “I am deeply grateful to the administrators of the Sami Rohr Prize, the Jewish Book Council and to the Rohr family.”

The awards will be conferred later in May during a private ceremony at the Moise Safra Center in New York, where the authors will participate in a panel moderated by Rabbi David Wolpe.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at


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