The Arty Semite

Sami Rohr Finalists Include Forward Editor

By Dan Friedman

  • Print
  • Share Share

This year’s Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature finalists were announced this morning. Five nonfiction authors were on the shortlist for the biggest prize in Jewish letters ($100,000 for the winner and $25,000 for the runner-up), including Gal Beckerman, the Forward’s own opinion editor. The prize alternates between fiction and nonfiction.

Beckerman’s inclusion was not a huge surprise, since his book — reviewed by Donald Kimelman in the Forward — “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry,” was awarded the 2010 National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Book of the Year.

The press release, issued by the Jewish Book Council, cites the finalists “in no particular order,” following Beckerman with James Loeffler, author of “The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire” which was released by Yale to little fanfare in the summer of 2010.

Despite beginning with two men, a heartening 40% of the nominees were women — and those were chosen without a hint of tokenism. Abigail Green, author of “Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero” was reviewed glowingly by the Forverts, and the Rohr panel refers to it, rightly, as a “monumental biography.”

And Ruth Franklin’s growing stature both within and beyond The New Republic, where she is the senior literary critic, has been cemented by this shortlisting for her book “A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction” which Jerome Chanes reviewed when it came out.

A top early tip for the winner, which will be announced on February 15, is Jonathan B. Krasner whose book “The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education” was an important and well-written book on a topic that is rarely touched. Barry Holtz reviewed it for us and called it “essential preparation for seeing how we came to where we are today.”

These finalists now proceed to interview and the judges will huddle over the next two weeks to bring one of these writers a belated Valentine’s Day present.

Read excerpts from Gal Beckerman’s book here, here and here.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sami Rohr Awards, Ruth Franklin, Moses Montefiore, Jonathan Krasner, James Loeffler, Awards, Gal Beckerman, Abigail Green

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.