2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature

Jewish Book Council Announces Winner of

$100,000 Sami Rohr Prize For Jewish Literature

NEW YORK, NY – The Jewish Book Council today announced the winner of the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, which recognizes the important role of emerging writers in examining the Jewish experience. The award of $100,000 – one of the largest literary prizes in the world – honors a specific work as well as the author’s potential to make significant contributions to Jewish literature.

The Rohr prize has been given annually since 2007 and considers works of fiction and non-fiction in alternating years.

This year’s prize is for non-fiction and is awarded to journalist Gal Beckerman. His book, When They Come for Us We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is a comprehensive and enthralling chronicle of the history of the Soviet Jewry movement. The judges believe Beckerman’s work shows “his clear commitment to becoming a storyteller for the Jewish people.” This is Beckerman’s first book.

The runner-up is Oxford lecturer Abigail Green, for her biography, Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero (Belknap Press of Harvard University). She receives a $25,000 prize.

Gal Beckerman and Abigail Green will be honored at a gala awards ceremony in Jerusalem on April 11, 2012.

Last year’s Rohr prize was awarded to Austin Ratner for his novel, The Jump Artist. The prize, according to Ratner, was “the turning point in my career as a writer – my lucky break. It’s a different world for me.”

Biographical information about the 2012 Rohr Prize winners:

Gal Beckerman is the author of When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry, which was awarded the Jewish Book Council’s 2010 National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Book of the Year. He is an opinion editor at The Forward and has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, among other publications. He was recently a Fellow at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin and lives in Brooklyn.

Abigail Green is Tutor and Fellow in History at Brasenose College, University of Oxford. She is nominated for Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero, which was a Jewish Book Council National Jewish Book Award Finalist, a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year 2010 and a New Republic Best Book of 2010. Her first book Fatherlands: State-Building and Nationhood in Nineteenth Century Germany, was shortlisted in Das Historisches Buch 2002. She lives in Oxford, England.

The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature was established in 2006 by the family of Sami Rohr with the Jewish Book Council in honor of his lifelong love of Jewish writing. In conjunction with this award, the Rohr family has established the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute, a forum devoted to the continuity of Jewish literature.

Read about all five finalists here.