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!
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • 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.