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Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature awarded to Menachem Kaiser

The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, in association with the National Library of Israel, has announced the winner and three finalists of the 2022 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The four authors were honored in an online ceremony earlier this month. 

The program was moderated by Rabbi David Wolpe. He reflected on the uniqueness of the Prize established by Sami Rohr’s three children to honor their father and his deep love of Jewish learning. 

“What makes this Prize different from other literary prizes,” explained Wolpe, “is that it is presented to an author as well as to the author’s book. It must be someone who is at the start of his or her career and who also makes a good spokesperson for Jewish life, culture and literature.”

George Rohr presented the award to winner Menachem Kaiser for his book Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure (Mariner Books).  Plunder is a deeply immersive adventure story set in motion when the author takes up his Holocaust-survivor grandfather’s former battle to reclaim the family’s apartment building in Poland. It is a daring interrogation of inheritance—material, spiritual, familial and emotional. 

This year’s Sami Rohr Prize finalists are:

Ayala Fader, author of Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age (Princeton University Press, 2020), a revealing look at Jewish men and women who secretly explore the outside world while remaining in their ultra-Orthodox religious communities.

Danny Adeno Abebe, author of From Africa to Zion (Miskal Publishing – Yediot, 2021), an extraordinary insider’s perspective on the Ethiopian Israeli immigrant experience. 

Eylon Levy, translator of From Africa to Zion, is the first Translation Finalist in the history of the Sami Rohr Prize.

The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature recognizes the unique role of contemporary writers in the examination and transmission of the Jewish experience. The $100,000 prize is granted annually, for non-fiction and fiction in alternating years, to an emerging writer who demonstrates the potential for continued contribution to the world of Jewish literature. Inaugurated in 2006, the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature honors the legacy of Sami Rohr who enjoyed a lifelong love of Jewish learning and literature. The 2023 Sami Rohr Prize for fiction is scheduled to take place next year at the new state-of-the-art home of the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.

 For more information, visit samirohrprize.org.

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