2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature

Matti Friedman Wins
$100,000 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature
For The Aleppo Codex
Award Ceremony to Be Held January 21 in Jerusalem

  




 

New York, November 7, 2013—The Jewish Book Council is pleased to announce that Matti Friedman, author of The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible (Algonquin Books), is the winner of the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. One of the largest literary prizes—an award of $100,000—the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature honors emerging writers who explore the Jewish experience in a specific work of non-fiction. The author’s potential to make significant ongoing contributions to Jewish literature is a primary factor in the award. Sarah Bunin Benor, author of Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism (Rutgers University Press), was named as the runner-up and will be awarded a prize of $25,000.

“This year's winners, one whom wrote a true life detective story on a thousand-year-old Hebrew Bible, and the other who explores how community influences one’s speech patterns, are recognized for their achievements in non-fiction and represent some of the best and the brightest writers on Jewish scholarship and non-fiction today," says Carolyn Starman Hessel, Director of the Jewish Book Council, the coordinating organization for the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary programs.

All finalists for the Sami Rohr Prize are inducted into the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute, an annual gathering of Sami Rohr winners, finalists, judges, and advisors. To date, all winners of the prize have continued with successful literary careers in both fiction and nonfiction. Some of these include Austin Ratner, Gal Beckerman, and Lucette Lagnado.

Noted philanthropist and businessman Sami Rohr, who died at age 86 in August of 2012, viewed his philanthropy as an investment in the Jewish people. His involvement in charitable efforts matched the attention he devoted to his professional work, and the award established in his name reflects his dedication to Jewish education, culture, and community. "Since Sami Rohr’s passing, the importance of upholding his extraordinary legacy is even greater,” says Hessel.

The Rohr Prize has been given annually since 2007 and considers works of fiction and nonfiction in alternating years.

The winner and finalists of the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Non-Fiction will be celebrated at a ceremony in Jerusalem on January 21, 2014.

The following is a list of all the finalists:

Sarah Bunin Benor, author of Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language of Orthodox Judaism (Rutgers University Press), offers a smart and entertaining look at how newcomers learn to be--and sound--Orthodox.

Marni Davis, author of Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition (NYU Press), examines American Jews' long and complicated relationship to alcohol during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Matti Friedman, author of The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible (Algonquin Books), explores a true-life detective story of a thousand-year-old Hebrew bible.

Nina S. Spiegel, author of Embodying Hebrew Culture: Aesthetics, Athletics and Dance in the Jewish Community of Mandate Palestine (Wayne State University Press), details the creation of the Hebrew cultural aesthetic and demonstrates the ways that political and social issues can influence a new society.

Eliyahu Stern, author of The Genius: Elijah of Vilna and the Making of Modern Judaism (Yale University Press), offers a new narrative of Jewish modernity based on Elijah's life and influence.