Israelis snag top prizes at National Jewish Book Awards

NEW YORK (JTA) – Authors Yossi Klein Halevi, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Ari Shavit were among the winners of the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards.

Halevi, a longtime Israeli journalist, took the top prize, the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award, for “Like Dreamers,” which tells the history of Israel through the personal experiences over decades of a handful of paratroopers who helped capture the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. Sacks, the former British chief rabbi, won in the category of modern Jewish thought and experience for “The Koren Pesach Machzor.” Shavit, a journalist for Israel’s daily Haaretz, won in the history category for “My Promised Land: The triumph and Tragedy of Israel,” a book of reflections on Israel’s complicated history.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Awarded annually by the Jewish Book Council, the awards are in their 63rdannual iteration. This year’s crop included a notable number of foreign winners.

The award for fiction went to Israeli writer Amos Oz for “Between Friends,” which was translated into English by Sondra Silverston. Hebrew University professor Moshe Halbertal won the Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award for Scholarship for “Maimonides: Life and Thought.”

Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman’s “FDR and the Jews” won the American Jewish Studies Celebrate 350 Award. Phyllis Chesler won in the category for biography or memoir for “An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir.” Michal Smart and Barbara Ashkenas’s book “Kaddish: Women’s Voices” won in the category of contemporary Jewish practice.

In children and young adult literature, the winner was “The War Within These Walls,” written by Aline Sax, illustrated by Caryl Strzelecki and translated by Laura Watkinson. The top prize for illustrated children’s book went to “Hanukkah Bear” by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.

A full list of the awardees and runners-up is available at the website of the Jewish Book Council.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony on the evening of March 5, 2014 at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan. The event is free and open to the public.