Jewish Book Awards

I feel like one of the best ways to learn about a culture is to read what it writes about itself. I can’t always visit everywhere, and I don’t always know someone who is a member of that group, but I DO have a library card and curiosity. So, here for the next couple of posts we’ll be doing some cultural learning opportunities.

With Hanukkah approaching, here are a few selected awards that focus on Jewish Fiction and Non-Fiction:

The Jewish Book Council does a lot to promote all types of writing within the Jewish Community of the United States. Based in NY, this group sponsors National Jewish Book Month (Nov 21-Dec 21), and gives a group of very prestigious awards.

 1.      Jewish Book of the Year Award Everett Family Foundation Award Endowed by the Everett Family in 2003, this prestigious award honors the best non-fiction book of the year.

2.      American Jewish History Saul Viener Academic Book Prize

3.      American Jewish Studies Celebrate 350 The Celebrate 350 Committee commemorated the 350 years of Jewish life in America and conducted a year-long series of celebrations. This award provides the opportunity to remember the event and honor books that will contribute to the next major milestone.


4.      Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir The Krauss Family Award

5.      Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award

6.      Education and Jewish Identity In Memory of Dorothy Kripke

7.      Fiction JJ Greenberg Memorial Award


8.      History Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award

9.      Illustrated Children’s Book Louis Posner Memorial Award.

10.  Modern Jewish Thought and Experience Dorot Foundation Award in Memory of Joy Ungerleider Mayerson

11.  Outstanding Debut Fiction Foundation for Jewish Culture’s Goldberg Prize

12.  Scholarship Nahum Sarna Memorial Award

13.  Sephardic Culture Mimi S. Frank Award in memory of Becky Levy

14.  Women’s Studies Barbara Dobkin Award

15.  Writing Based on Archival Material The JDC-Herbert Katzki Award

16.  Anthologies and Collections

  1. Children’s and Young Adult Literature
  2. Holocaust
  3. Poetry
  4. Visual Arts

The Sami Rohr Prize recognizes the unique role of contemporary writers in the transmission and examination of Jewish life today and throughout the ages. The Prize is designed to encourage and promote outstanding emerging writers who will make a significant contribution to Jewish literature.  The $100,000 Prize is presented to fiction and non-fiction writers in alternating years.

 Again, this group of awards are judged by committees, and the publisher/author may submit their work.

 The Foundation for Jewish Culture presents two awards

The Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers highlights debut fiction by contemporary writers exploring Jewish themes, and offers a prize and writer’s residency. Past recipients include Gary Shteyngart, Nathan Englander, Lara Vapnyar, Scott Nadelson, and Anya Ulinich.

The Gantz Zahler Grant for Jewish Nonfiction Publishing is awarded biannually to a nonfiction book project.

For these prizes, the publisher must submit the application, which is then judged by a panel. Previous winners may not reapply. Self-published and e-format only books are not eligible.

The Association of Jewish Libraries presents the Sydney Taylor book award  for books for children and teens.  Here are the criteria:

  1. The book has literary merit.
  2. The book has positive or authentic Jewish religious or cultural content.
  3. The book is appropriate for the intended grade level in style, vocabulary, format, and illustration.
  4.  Whether fiction or nonfiction, the book is solidly rooted in authentic and accurate detail, through scholarship and research by the author.
  5. Textbooks and reprints are not eligible, although revised editions and re-illustrated editions are eligible.

 The submitted works are judged by committee for each age group, and the winners and honorees are voted on.

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