The Arty Semite

National Jewish Book Award Winners Announced

By Nadja Spiegelman

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The National Jewish Book Award winners were announced Wednesday and there’s good cause for excitement. From an illustrated children’s bible to a gripping young adult novel based on the voyage of the M.S. St. Louis, here are the list of winning books:

Jewish Book of the Year Award

“Louis D. Brandeis: A Life,” by Melvin L. Urofsky (Pantheon Books, 2009)

Jewish Book Council Lifetime Achievement Award

Ruth Gruber

Read the Forward’s review of Ruth Gruber’s “Witness: One of the Great Correspondents of the Twentieth Century Tells Her Story”

American Jewish Studies


“We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962,” by Hasia R. Diner (New York University Press, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “We Remember with Reverence and Love.”


“Orthodox Jews in America,”by Jeffrey S. Gurock (Indiana University Press, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “Orthodox Jews in America.”

“Jewish Immigrants and American Capitalism, 1880-1920: From Caste to Class,” by Eli Lederhendler (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Anthologies and Collections


“Rethinking European Jewish History,”by Jeremy Cohen and Moshe Rosman, eds. (The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2009)


“Place and Displacement in Jewish History and Memory: Zakor V’makor,” by David Cesarani, Tony Kushner, Milton Shain, eds. (Vallentine Mitchell, 2009)

“Jewish Musical Modernism, Old and New,” by Philip V. Bohlman, ed.(University of Chicago Press, 2009)

Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir


“The Fall of a Sparrow: The Life and Times of Abba Kovner,” by Dina Porat; Elizabeth Yuval, trans. & ed. (Stanford University Press, 2009)


“Rosenfeld’s Lives: Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing,” by Steven J. Zipperstein (Yale University Press, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “Rosenfeld’s Lives.”

“Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America,” by Kati Marton (Simon & Schuster, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of Kati Marton’s 2007 release, “The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World.”

Children’s and Young Adult Literature


“The Other Half of Life: A Novel Based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis,” by Kim Ablon Whitney (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009)


“Cursing Columbus,” by Eve Tal (Cinco Puntos Press, 2009)

“Clay Man: The Golem of Prague,” by Irene N. Watts; Kathryn E. Shoemaker, illus. (Tundra Books, 2009)

“Lost,” by Jacqueline Davies (Marshall Cavendish , 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of Jacqueline Davies’ 2008 book, “The Lemonade War.”

Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice


“Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End,” by Daniel Gordis (John Wiley & Sons, 2009)

Daniel Gordis Reponds to Jay Michaelson’s ‘How I’m Losing My Love for Israel’: “No Right to Exhaustion”.


“Far from Zion: In Search of a Global Jewish Community,” by Charles London (William Morrow, 2009)

Listen to the Forward’s Podcast with Charles London about the writing of “Far From Zion.”

“Jewcentricity: Why the Jews Are Praised, Blamed, and Used to Explain Just About Everything,“ by Adam Garfinkle (John Wiley & Sons, 2009)



“Gratitude: A Novel,” by Joseph Kertes (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009)


“The Last Ember,” by Daniel Levin

Read the Forward’s review of “The Last Ember.”

“Pictures at an Exhibition,” by Sara Houghteling (Knopf, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

“Polyglot: Stories of the West’s Wet edge,“ by Wendy Marcus (Beth Am Press, 2009)

“The Legend of Cosmo and the Archangel,” by Joseph Kaufman (French Creek Press, 2009)



“Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America” by Beryl Satter (Metropolitan Books (Henry Holt and Company), 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “Family Properties.”


“Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries,” by Michael R. Fischbach (Columbia University Press, 2009)

“Major Farran’s Hat: The Untold Story of the Struggle to Establish the Jewish State,” by David Cesarani (Da Capo Press, 2009)

“We Look Like the Enemy: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands,” by Rachel Shabi (Walker & Company, 2009)

Read the Forward’s Q & A with Rachel Shabi about “We Look Like the Enemy.”

Read Aimée Kligman’s provocative review of Shabi’s book at Zeek.



“The Warsaw Ghetto: A Guide to the Perished City,” by Barbara Engelking and Jacek Leociak; Emma Harris, trans. (Yale University Press, 2009)

“The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses,” by Stephen H. Norwood (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Illustrated Children’s Books


“JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible,” by Ellen Frankel; Avi Katz, illus. (Jewish Publication Society, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of the “JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible.”


“Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim: A Passover Story,” by Deborah Bodin Cohen; Jago, illus. (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2009)

“The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak,” by Tomek Bogacki (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009)

Jewish Family Literature


“Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Spring and Summer Holidays: Passover, The Omer, Shavuot, Tisha b’Av,” by Paul Steinberg; Janet Greenstein Potter, ed. (Jewish Publication Society, 2009)


“JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible,” by Ellen Frankel; Avi Katz, illus. (Jewish Publication Society, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of the “JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible.”

“Sacred Parenting: Jewish Wisdom and Practical Guidance for Your Family’s Early Years,” by Elaine Rose Glickman (URJ Press, 2009)

Modern Jewish Thought & Experience


“Covenant & Conversation, A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible, Genesis: The Book of Beginnings,” by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks (Koren Publishers, 2009)


“Nehama Leibowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar,” by Yael Unterman (Urim Publications, 2009)

“The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious,” by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg (Schocken Books, 2009)

Read the Forward’s Q & A with Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg on the release of “The Murmuring Deep.”

“The Koren Sacks Siddur: A Hebrew/English Prayerbook,” by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Read the Forward’s review of “The Koren Sacks Siddur.”



“The Book of Seventy,” by Alicia Suskin Ostriker (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009)


“Ezekiel’s Wheels,” by Shirley Kaufman (Copper Canyon Press, 2009)

“Door to a Noisy Room,” by Peter Waldor (Alice James Books, 2009)

“Stupid Hope: Poems,” by Jason Shinder (Graywolf Press, 2009)



“Subversive Sequels in the Bible: How Biblical Stories Mine and Undermine Each Other,” by Judy Klitsner (Jewish Publication Society, 2009)


“Maimonides, Spinoza and Us: Toward an Intellectually Vibrant Judaism,” by Rabbi Marc D. Angel (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “Maimonides, Spinoza and Us.”

“The Invention of Hebrew,” by Seth L. Sanders (University of Illinois Press, 2009)

Sephardic Culture


“We Look Like the Enemy: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands,” by Rachel Shabi (Walker & Company, 2009)

Read the Forward’s Q & A with Rachel Shabi about “We Look Like the Enemy.”

Read Aimée Kligman’s provocative review of Shabi’s book at Zeek.

Visual Arts


“Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976,” by Norman L. Kleeblatt, ed. (Yale University Press, 2009)


“Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater,” by Susan Tumarkin Goodman, with essays by Zvi Gitelman, Vladislav Ivanov, Jeffrey Veidlinger, and Benjamin Harshav (Yale University Press, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater.”

“Photographing the Jewish Nation: Pictures from S. An-Sky’s Ethnographic Expeditions,” by Eugene M. Avrutin, Valerii Dymshits, Alexander Ivanov, Alexander Lvov, Harriet Murav, and Alla Sokolova, eds. (Brandeis University Press, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “Photographing the Jewish Nation.”

Women’s Studies


“Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn,” by Ayala Fader (Princeton University Press, 2009)


“Levirate Marriage and the Family in Ancient Judaism,” by Dvora E. Weisberg (Brandeis University Press, 2009)

“Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America,” by Keren R. McGinity (New York University Press, 2009)

Read the Forward’s review of “Still Jewish.”

“Meneket Rivkah: A Manual of Wisdom and Piety for Jewish Women,” Original text by Rivkah bat Meir; Translated from the original Yiddish to German, with introduction and commentary by Frauke Von Rohden (Jewish Publication Society, 2009)

Writing Based on Archival Material


“The Holocaust in the Soviet Union,” by Yitzhak Arad; Ora Cummings, trans. (University of Nebraska Press, 2009)

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: National Jewish Book Awards, Melvin Urofsky, Louis Brandeis, Jewish Book Council, Books, Ruth Gruber

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Jack Fri. Jan 15, 2010

Books about Pollock and de Kooning, Chagall and Russian Jewish Theater, and the An-Sky expeditions were judged under the category “Sephardic Culture”? Either someone made a mistake or the Sephardim are more widespread than I ever expected.

Nadja Spiegelman Thu. Jan 21, 2010

oops! A mistake indeed. The winners of the Visual Arts award were mis-listed under the Sephardic Culture award. It's now been fixed. Thanks for catching that, Jack! --nadja

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