Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award Winners (2020)


The National Jewish Book Awards are a significant snapshot of  mainstream American Jewish culture and book life. What it does, perhaps uniquely, is mix together across a broad spectrum of categories middle brow culture, including books for children, along with literature and academic scholarship. Without any critical animus, I’ll add this. That Jonathan Sacks and Art Green won awards, the one in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience, the other in Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice, is a sign of the times. These two awards indicate what is current and important in popular Jewish religious thought today, i.e. conservative moralism and New Age spirituality. Also of note is that a book on visual and material culture and objects, by Lau­ra Arnold Leib­man, won the award in three categories: American Jewish Studies,  History, and Women Studies. I am pasting the list of and links to winners and runners-up below the information from their website

About Jew­ish Book Coun­cil: Jew­ish Book Coun­cil is a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to edu­cat­ing, enrich­ing, and strength­en­ing the com­mu­ni­ty through Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture. With over 250 tour­ing authors each year, 2,000 book clubs, 1,300 events, the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards, Natan Notable Books, the pop­u­lar lit­er­ary series Unpack­ing the Book: Jew­ish Writ­ers in Con­ver­sa­tion, a vibrant dig­i­tal pres­ence, and an annu­al print pub­li­ca­tion, Paper Brigade, JBC ensures that Jew­ish-inter­est authors have a plat­form, and that read­ers are able to find these books and have the tools to dis­cuss them with their community.

About the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards: The Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards were estab­lished by Jew­ish Book Coun­cil in 1950 in order to rec­og­nize out­stand­ing works of Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture. It is the longest-run­ning awards pro­gram of its kind.

Jew­ish Book of the Year

Everett Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Award


Moral­i­ty: Restor­ing the Com­mon Good in Divid­ed Times

Rab­bi Jonathan Sacks

Basic Books


Amer­i­can Jew­ish Studies

Cel­e­brate 350 Award


The Art of the Jew­ish Fam­i­ly: A His­to­ry of Women in Ear­ly New York in Five Objects

Lau­ra Arnold Leibman

Bard Grad­u­ate Center


Hid­den Heretics: Jew­ish Doubt in the Dig­i­tal Age

Ayala Fad­er

Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Well Worth Sav­ing: Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ties’ Life-and-Death Deci­sions on Refugees from Nazi Europe

Lau­rel Leff

Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Press

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immi­grant House­wives and the Riots That Shook New York City

Scott D. Seligman

Potomac Books

Auto­bi­og­ra­phy and Memoir

The Krauss Fam­i­ly Award in Mem­o­ry of Simon & Shu­lamith (Sofi) Goldberg


When Time Stopped: A Mem­oir of My Father’s War and What Remains

Ari­ana Neumann

Scrib­n­er (Simon & Schuster)


Friend­ly Fire: How Israel Became Its Own Worst Ene­my and the Hope for Its Future Ami Ayalon and Antho­ny David

Steer­forth Press

I Want You to Know We’re Still Here

Esther Safran Foer

Crown Pub­lish­ing Group

Here We Are: My Friend­ship with Philip Roth

Ben­jamin Taylor

Pen­guin Books


In Mem­o­ry of Sara Beren­son Stone


From Left to Right: Lucy S. Daw­id­ow­icz, the New York Intel­lec­tu­als, and the Pol­i­tics of Jew­ish History

Nan­cy Sinkoff

Wayne State Uni­ver­si­ty Press


Andrea Dworkin: The Fem­i­nist as Revolutionary

Mar­tin Duberman

The New Press

Rab­bi Leo Baeck: Liv­ing a Reli­gious Imper­a­tive in Trou­bled Times

Michael A. Meyer

Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia Press

The Sun and Her Stars: Sal­ka Vier­tel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Gold­en Age of Hol­ly­wood Don­na Rifkind

Oth­er Press

Book Club

The Miller Fam­i­ly Award in Mem­o­ry of Helen Dunn Wein­stein and June Keit Miller


The Lost Shtetl: A Novel

Max Gross



Han­nah’s War: A Novel

Jan Elias­berg

Lit­tle, Brown (Back Bay)

The Book of Lost Names

Kristin Harmel

Gallery Books

The Yel­low Bird Sings: A Novel

Jen­nifer Rosner

Flat­iron Books

The Tun­nel

A. B. Yehoshua

Houghton Mif­flin Harcourt

Children’s Pic­ture Book


Wel­com­ing Eli­jah: A Passover Tale with a Tail

Lesléa New­man, illus­trat­ed by Susan Gal



Judah Touro Did­n’t Want to Be Famous

Audrey Ades, illus­trat­ed by Vivien Mildenberger

Kar-Ben Pub­lish­ing

No Steps Behind: Beate Siro­ta Gor­don’s Bat­tle for Wom­en’s Rights in Japan

Jeff Gottes­feld, illus­trat­ed by Shiel­la Witanto

Cre­ston Books

Con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish Life and Practice

Myra H. Kraft Memo­r­i­al Award


Judaism for the World: Reflec­tions on God, Life, and Love

Arthur Green

Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Press


The Mus­sar Torah Com­men­tary: A Spir­i­tu­al Path to Liv­ing a Mean­ing­ful and Eth­i­cal Life Rab­bi Bar­ry H. Block

CCAR Press

Pre­pare My Prayer: Recipes to Awak­en the Soul

Rab­bi Dov Singer

Koren Pub­lish­ers Jerusalem

Debut Fic­tion

Gold­berg Prize


Flo­rence Adler Swims For­ev­er: A Novel

Rachel Bean­land

Simon & Schuster


The Orchard: A Novel

David Hopen


The Yel­low Bird Sings: A Novel

Jen­nifer Rosner

Flat­iron Books

Edu­ca­tion and Jew­ish Identity

In Mem­o­ry of Dorothy Kripke


Hebrew Infu­sion: Lan­guage and Com­mu­ni­ty at Amer­i­can Jew­ish Sum­mer Camps

Sarah Bunin Benor, Jonathan Kras­ner, and Sharon Avni

Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty Press


The Unstop­pable Start­up: Mas­ter­ing Israel’s Secret Rules of Chutzpah

Uri Adoni

Harper­Collins Leadership


JJ Green­berg Memo­r­i­al Award


Apeirogon: A Novel

Colum McCann

Ran­dom House


House on End­less Waters

Emu­na Elon

Atria Books

The Last Inter­view: A Novel

Eshkol Nevo, trans­lat­ed by Son­dra Silverston

Oth­er Press

Evening: A Novel

Nes­sa Rapoport

Coun­ter­point Press

The Mem­o­ry Monster

Yishai Sarid, trans­lat­ed by Yardenne Greenspan

Rest­less Books

Food Writ­ing & Cookbooks

Jane and Stu­art Weitz­man Fam­i­ly Award


Now for Some­thing Sweet

Mon­day Morn­ing Cook­ing Club



The Dairy Restaurant

Ben Katchor

Schock­en Books


Ger­rard and Ella Berman Memo­r­i­al Award


The Art of the Jew­ish Fam­i­ly: A His­to­ry of Women in Ear­ly New York in Five Objects 

Lau­ra Arnold Leibman

Bard Grad­u­ate Center


Stepchil­dren of the Shtetl: The Des­ti­tute, Dis­abled, and Mad of Jew­ish East­ern Europe, 1800 – 1939

Natan M. Meir

Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Res­cue the Sur­viv­ing Souls: The Great Jew­ish Refugee Cri­sis of the Sev­en­teenth Century

Adam Teller

Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press


In Mem­o­ry of Ernest W. Michel


The Unan­swered Let­ter: One Holo­caust Fam­i­ly’s Des­per­ate Plea for Help

Faris Cas­sell

Reg­n­ery History

Mid­dle Grade Literature


The Black­bird Girls

Anne Blankman

Viking Chil­dren’s Books, Penguin/​Random House


No Vacan­cy

Tzi­po­rah Cohen

Ground­wood Books

Anya and the Nightingale

Sofiya Paster­nack

Houghton Mif­flin Harcourt

Chance: Escape from the Holocaust 

Uri Shule­vitz

Far­rar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers/​Macmillan

Mod­ern Jew­ish Thought and Experience

Dorot Foun­da­tion Award in Mem­o­ry of Joy Unger­lei­der Mayerson


Moral­i­ty: Restor­ing the Com­mon Good in Divid­ed Times

Rab­bi Jonathan Sacks

Basic Books


Esther: Pow­er, Fate, and Fragili­ty in Exile

Dr. Eri­ca Brown

Koren Pub­lish­ers Jerusalem

The New Jew­ish Canon: Ideas & Debates 1980 – 2015

Yehu­da Kurtzer and Claire E. Sufrin

Aca­d­e­m­ic Stud­ies Press


Berru Award in Mem­o­ry of Ruth and Bernie Weinflash


Nau­tilus and Bone

Lisa Richter

Fron­tenac House


How to Love the World

Elvi­ra Basevich

Pank Books

Asy­lum: A per­son­al, his­tor­i­cal, nat­ur­al inquiry in 103 lyric sections

Jill Bialosky

Alfred A. Knopf


Adam Kam­mer­ling

Out-Spo­ken Press


Nahum M. Sar­na Memo­r­i­al Award


Time and Dif­fer­ence in Rab­binic Judaism

Sar­it Kat­tan Gribetz

Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press


Nah­manides: Law and Mysticism

Moshe Hal­ber­tal, trans­lat­ed by Daniel Tabak

Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Demons, Angels, and Writ­ing in Ancient Judaism

Annette Yoshiko Reed

Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Sephardic Cul­ture

Mimi S. Frank Award in Mem­o­ry of Becky Levy


Forg­ing Ties, Forg­ing Pass­ports: Migra­tion and the Mod­ern Sephar­di Diaspora

Devi Mays

Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press


The Jews of Ottoman Izmir: A Mod­ern History

Dina Danon

Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press

The Con­vert

Ste­fan Hert­mans, trans­lat­ed by David McKay

Alfred A. Knopf

The Con­ver­so’s Return: Con­ver­sion and Sephar­di His­to­ry in Con­tem­po­rary Lit­er­a­ture and Culture

Dalia Kandiy­oti

Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Women Stud­ies

Bar­bara Dobkin Award


The Art of the Jew­ish Fam­i­ly: A His­to­ry of Women in Ear­ly New York in Five Objects 

Lau­ra Arnold Leibman

Bard Grad­u­ate Center


Her Sto­ry, My Sto­ry? Writ­ing About Women and the Holocaust

Edit­ed by Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz and Dalia Ofer

Peter Lang Publishers

The Rebel­lion of the Daugh­ters: Jew­ish Women Run­aways in Hab­s­burg Galicia 

Rachel Manekin

Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Writ­ing Based on Archival Material

The JDC-Her­bert Katz­ki Award


Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Anti­se­mit­ic Myth

Mag­da Teter

Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press


The Lost Archive: Traces of a Caliphate in a Cairo Synagogue

Mari­na Rustow

Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Leav­ing Zion: Jew­ish Emi­gra­tion from Pales­tine and Israel after World War II

Ori Yehu­dai

Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Young Adult Literature


The Way Back

Gavriel Sav­it

Ran­dom House Chil­dren’s Books


What I Like About You

Marisa Kan­ter

Simon & Schus­ter Chil­dren’s Publishing

Today Tonight Tomorrow

Rachel Lynn Solomon

Simon & Schus­ter Chil­dren’s PublishingMore from JBC Staffnation­al jew­ish book awardbooksfic­tionmid­dle grade fictioniden­ti­tyimmi­gra­tionrefugeesPreviousIllu­mi­na­tion: A Con­ver­sa­tion with Mark PodwalAda Brun­steinCategoriesArts & Culture

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award Winners (2020)

  1. dmf says:

    ” conservative moralism and New Age spirituality” it’s telling that NPRish folks (including the audience) like Krista Tippett manage to embrace both often at the same time.

Leave a Reply