Jewish Life

72nd National Jewish Book Awards

This Jewish Book Council has announced the winners of the 72nd National Jewish Book Awards. 

The winning books include Kosher Soul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew by Michael W. Twitty (HarperCollins/ Amistad Books) which was named the Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year. Kosher Soul explores the connections between the Jewish and African diasporas through food, making a case that the links between the cuisine and identity of the two communities form a deep connective tissue. This eye-opening book includes Twitty’s conversations with people from different demographics within both communities, as well as deep dives into theology, identity, and, of course, food — giving readers the impetus to reflect on their heritage and religion in a new way.

Michael Frank is the winner of both the new Holocaust Memoir category and the Sephardic Culture category Mimi S. Frank Award in memory of Becky Levy with his book One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World (Avid Reader Press). He was also recently named a Natan Notable Book from Natan Fund and Jewish Book Council in October 2022.

Dani Shapiro wins her second National Jewish Book Award, and her first JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for Fiction, for her novel Signal Fires (Alfred A. Knopf). Ashley Goldberg wins the Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction with his novel Abomination (Penguin Random House Australia) and Miriam Ruth Black is recognized as the recipient of the The Miller Family Book Club Award in Memory of Helen Dunn Weinstein and June Keit Miller for her novel Shayna (Kirk House). The inaugural Hebrew Fiction in Translation Jane Weitzman Award goes to Mayan Eitan for her book Love (Penguin Press), which is self-translated.

Jonathan Freedland is the recipient of both the Biography Award in Memory of Sara Berenson Stone and the Holocaust Award in Memory of Ernest W. Michel for his book The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World (HarperCollins Publishers), and Kenneth B. Moss wins the Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award in History for his book An Unchosen People: Jewish Political Reckoning in Interwar Poland (Harvard University Press).

Shoshana Nambi has won the inaugural Children’s Picture Book Tracy and Larry Brown Family Award for The Very Best Sukkah: A Story of Uganda, illustrated by Moran Yogev (Kalaniot Books). Susan Wider receives the Young Adult Literature Award for It’s My Whole Life: Charlotte Salomon: An Artist in Hiding During World War II (Norton Young Readers), and the Middle Grade Literature Award goes to The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz (Kar-Ben Publishing).

The Jane and Stuart Weitzman Family Award for Food Writing and Cookbooks goes to Cooking alla Giuda by Benedetta Jasmine Guetta (Artisan Books) and Sean Singer wins the Berru Poetry Award in Memory of Ruth and Bernie Weinflash for Today in the Taxi (Tupelo Press).

Danya Ruttenberg’s On Repentance and Repair (Beacon Press) receives the Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award. 

This year, we are pleased to present the Mentorship Award in Honor of Carolyn Starman Hessel to Ellen Frankel. Frankel served as the Editor in Chief and CEO of The Jewish Publication Society for eighteen years. During her tenure, she mentored both authors, staff, and students; championed many women scholars starting with Aviva Zornberg; brought to life the Folktales of the Jews project, which made the stories of forgotten Jewish communities accessible to a larger audience; in addition to her unwavering commitment to make obscure texts accessible to lay audiences. Former JPS employee Arielle Levites shares, “Her special contribution has been in telling unknown and under-explored stories and nurturing first-time authors who otherwise might have been overlooked.” Frankel is also a National Jewish Book Award-winning author, teacher, storyteller, and lecturer.

A complete list of the 72nd National Jewish Book Award winners and finalists can be found below, and additional information is available at www.JewishBookCouncil.org.

JBC’s website features a database of current and past National Jewish Book Award winners and finalists; judges’ remarks on the 2022 winners and finalists will also be available after the March 2023 celebration. 

The winners of the 72nd National Jewish Book Awards will be honored on Wednesday March 1, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. at a ceremony to be held at Bohemian National Hall in New York City. For ticket information, visit jewishbookcouncil.org.

Jewish Book of the Year

Everett Family Foundation Award

Winner:

Kosher Soul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew

Michael W. Twitty

HarperCollins/ Amistad Books

Mentorship Award in Honor of Carolyn Starman Hessel

Ellen Frankel

Ellen Frankel served for eighteen years as Editor in Chief and CEO of The Jewish Publication Society. She is the author of ten books, including The Illustrated Hebrew Bible, which won a National Jewish Book Award. Most recently, she is the author of the new thriller series, The Jerusalem Mysteries. Frankel has taught writing and literature at Princeton University, Franklin and Marshall College, and Drexel University as well as leading writing workshops for educators, businesspeople, and teens. 

American Jewish Studies

Celebrate 350 Award

Winner: 

American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York

Nomi M. Stolzenberg and David N. Myers

Princeton University Press

Finalists:

The Literary Mafia: Jews, Publishing, and Postwar American Literature

Josh Lambert 

Yale University Press 

Jewish Soldiers in the Civil War: The Union Army

Adam D. Mendelsohn

New York University Press

Autobiography and Memoir

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

Winner:

Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood

Stephen Mills

Metropolitan Books

Finalists:

The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: World’s Greatest Negotiator

Rich Cohen

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Like a Drop of Ink in a Downpour: Memories of Soviet Russia

Yelena and Galina Lembersky

Academic Studies Press 

Lost & Found: Reflections on Grief, Gratitude, and Happiness

Kathryn Schulz

Random House 

Biography

In Memory of Sara Berenson Stone

Winner:

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World

Jonathan Freedland

HarperCollins Publishers

Finalists:

Professor of Apocalypse: The Many Lives of Jacob Taubes

Jerry Z. Muller

Princeton University Press

Book Club 

The Miller Family Award in Memory of Helen Dunn Weinstein and June Keit Miller

Winner:

Shayna

Miriam Ruth Black

Kirk House

Finalists:

Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible

Albert Bourla

HarperCollins 

Cover Me With My Izar

Nora Houri Haim

Raven Like a Writing Desk 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Gabrielle Zevin

Penguin Random House 

The Incandescent Threads

Richard Zimler

Parthian Books

Children’s Picture Book

Tracy and Larry Brown Family

Winner:

The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda

Shoshana Nambi, Moran Yogev, illus.

Kalaniot Books

Finalists:

Tia Fortuna’s New Home: A Cuban Journey

Ruth Behar, Devon Holzwarth, illus.

Random House Children’s Books 

Alone Together on Dan Street

Erica Lyons, Jen Jamieson, illus.

Apples & Honey Press, Behrman House 

Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice

Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award

Winner:

On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World

Danya Ruttenberg

Beacon Press

Finalists:

Stop Look Listen: Celebrating Shabbos Through a Spiritual Lens

Nehemia Polen

Koren Publishers

Debut Fiction

Goldberg Prize

Winner:

Abomination

Ashley Goldberg

Penguin Random House Australia

Finalists:

The Girl Who Counted Numbers

Roslyn Bernstein

Amsterdam Publishers

Education and Jewish Identity

In Memory of Dorothy Kripke

Winner

My Second Favorite Country: How American Jewish Children Think About Israel

Sivan Zakai

NYU Press

Finalists:

Queering Anti-Zionism Academic Freedom, LGBTQ Intellectuals, and Israel/Palestine Campus Activism

Corinne E. Blackmer

Wayne State University Press 

#antisemitism: Coming of Age During the Resurgence of Hate

Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath

ABC-CLIO

Fiction

JJ Greenberg Memorial Award

Winner:

Signal Fires

Dani Shapiro

Alfred A. Knopf

Finalists:

I’d Like to Say Sorry, but There’s No One To Say Sorry To: Stories

Mikołaj Grynberg

The New Press 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Gabrielle Zevin

Penguin Random House

Food Writing & Cookbooks

Jane and Stuart Weitzman Family Award

Winner: 

Cooking alla Giuda

Benedetta Jasmine Guetta

Artisan Books
Finalist:

Honey Cakes & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors

Maria Zalewska (ed.)

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation / Melcher Media

Hebrew Fiction in Translation

Jane Weitzman Award

Winner:

Love

Maayan Eitan

Penguin Press

Finalists:

World Shadow

Nir Baram; Jessica Cohen, trans

Text Publishing 

Victorious

Yishai Sarid; Yardenne Greenspan, trans.

Restless Books

History

Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award

Winner:

An Unchosen People: Jewish Political Reckoning in Interwar Poland

Kenneth B. Moss

Harvard University Press

Finalists:

In Hitler’s Munich: Jews, the Revolution and the Rise of Nazism

Michael Brenner

Princeton University Press

The Baron: Maurice de Hirsch and the Jewish Nineteenth Century

Matthias B. Lehmann

Stanford University Press 

The Shamama Case: Contesting Citizenship across the Modern Mediterranean Jessica M. Marglin

Princeton University Press

Holocaust

In Memory of Ernest W. Michel

Winner:

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World Jonathan Freedland

HarperCollins Publishers

Finalist:

The School that Escaped the Nazis: The True Story of the Schoolteacher Who Defied Hitler 

Deborah Cadbury

PublicAffairs, Hachette Book Group

Holocaust Memoir

Winner:

One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World

Michael Frank

Simon & Schuster / Avid Reader Press

Finalists:

Lily’s Promise: Holding On to Hope Through Auschwitz and Beyond―A Story for All Generations 

Lily Ebert and Dov Forman

HarperCollins

The Watchmakers: A Story of Brotherhood, Survival, and Hope Amid the Holocaust

Harry Lenga & Scott Lenga

Kensington Books

The 23rd Psalm: A Holocaust Memoir, The 20th Anniversary Edition 

George Salton with Anna Salton Eisen

Mandel Vilar Press

Middle Grade Literature

Winner:

The Prince of Steel Pier 

Stacy Nockowitz

Kar-Ben Publishing

Finalists:

Detour Ahead

Pamela Ehrenberg and Tracy Lopez

PJ Publishing 

Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis 

Susan Hood and Greg Dawson

HarperCollins

Modern Jewish Thought and Experience

Dorot Foundation Award in Memory of Joy Ungerleider Mayerson

Winner:

Figuring Jerusalem: Politics and Poetics in the Sacred Center 

Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi

The University of Chicago Press

Finalists:

Jacob’s Younger Brother: Christian-Jewish Relations after Vatican II 

Karma Ben-Johanan

Harvard University Press 

How the Soviet Jew Was Made 

Sasha Senderovich

Harvard University Press

Poetry

Berru Award in Memory of Ruth and Bernie Weinflash

Winner:

Today in the Taxi 

Sean Singer 

Tupelo Press

Finalists:

Her Birth and Later Years: New and Collected Poems, 1971 – 2021 

Irena Klepfisz

Wesleyan University Press

Refusenik

Lynn Melnick

YesYes Books 

Aunt Bird

Yerra Sugarman

Four Way Books 

Scholarship

Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award

Winner:

The Heresy of Jacob Frank: From Jewish Messianism to Esoteric Myth 

Jay Michaelson

Oxford University Press

Finalists:

Karaism: An Introduction to the Oldest Surviving Alternative Judaism

Daniel Lasker

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization 

Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature 

Max K. Strassfeld

University of California Press

Sephardic Culture

Mimi S. Frank Award in Memory of Becky Levy

Winner:

One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World

Michael Frank

Simon & Schuster / Avid Reader Press

Finalist:

Jews, Food, and Spain: The Oldest Medieval Spanish Cookbook and the Sephardic Culinary Heritage 

Hélène Jawhara Piñer

Academic Studies Press 

The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire 

Joseph Sassoon

Pantheon Books, Penguin Random House

Visual Arts

Winner:

Let There Be Light The Real Story of Her Creation

Liana Finck

Random House

Finalists:

Malkah’s Notebook: A Journey into the Mystical Aleph-Bet

Mira Z. Amiras

Collective Book Studio 

Florine Stettheimer. A Biography 

Barbara Bloemink

Hirmer Publishers

Women’s Studies

Barbara Dobkin Award

Winner:

Biblical Women and Jewish Daily Life in the Middle Ages 

Elisheva Baumgarten

University of Pennsylvania Press

Finalist:

The Lives of Jessie Sampter: Queer, Disabled, Zionist 

Sarah Imhoff

Duke University Press

Women Writing Jewish Modernity, 1919 – 1939 

Allison Schachter

Northwestern University Press 

Writing Based on Archival Material

The JDC-Herbert Katzki Award

Winner: 

A “Jewish Marshall Plan” The American Jewish Presence in Post-Holocaust France

Laura Hobson Faure

Indiana University Press

Finalist:

Beyond Zion:The Jewish Territorialist Movement

Laura Almagor

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization 

Yiddish Paris: Staging Nation and Community in Interwar France

Nick Underwood

Indiana University Press

Young Adult Literature

Winner:

It’s My Whole Life: Charlotte Salomon: An Artist in Hiding During World War II 

Susan Wider

Norton Young Readers

Finalists:

When the Angels Left the Old Country 

Sacha Lamb

Levine Querido 

Salt & Honey: Jewish Teens on Feminism, Creativity, and Tradition 

Elizabeth Mandel, editor

Behrman House

The Ghosts of Rose Hill 

M. Romero

Peachtree Teen/ Peachtree 

MAIN PHOTO: KosherSoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew by Michael W. Twitty was named Book of the Year.

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