David Ellenson, who is the president of Hebrew Union College's Jewish Institute of Religion, and his daughter, Ruth Andrew Ellenson, both won top honors in this year's National Jewish Book Awards.
Mr. Ellenson's book, After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Response to Modernity (Hebrew Union College Press) won in the category of Modern Jewish Thought and Experience. His daughter won in the Women Studies category for her collection of essays The Modern Jewish Girls' Guide To Guilt (Dutton). Michael Chabon edged out Philip Roth's The Plot Against America to win the fiction award for his World War II detective novel The Final Solution (Fourth Estate). The year's highest honor, Jewish Book of the Year, went to Amos Oz for his acclaimed memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness.
Some of the other 19 winners include Jerome Karabel, whose book The Chosen: The Hidden History of Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton won in the category of American Jewish History. Elliot R. Wolfson won the Scholarship award for his complex work Language, Eros, Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and Poetic Imagination (Fordham University Press). In the History Category, Mark Mazower took the top prize for Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430-1950 (Knopf). Deborah Lipstadt won the Holocaust Award for History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving (Ecco), her riveting account of being sued for libel by noted Holocaust denier David Irving. Bela Zsolt's Nine Suitcases (Random House) was one of the runners up.
In the Visual Art Category, Emily D. Bilski and Emily Brown (eds.) won for Jewish Women and Their Salons: The Power of Conversation (Jewish Museum and Yale University Press).
In the Anthologies Category, Who We Are: On Being (and Not Being) A Jewish American Writer edited by Derek Rubin (Schocken) took home top honors. Aharon Appelfeld's A Story of a Life (Schocken) was runner up in the Biography category, just behind winner Ester and Ruzya by Masha Gessen (Bantam-Dell). Two books published by the Israel-based publisher Urim were runners up in the Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice category - Dignity Beyond Death: The Jewish Preparation for Burial by Rochel U. Berman and Second Chances: Transforming Bitterness to Hope and the Story of Ruth by Levi Meier. The Book of Customs by Scott-Martin Kosofsky (Harper San Francisco) took top honors in the category.
The Jewish Book Council began The National Jewish Book Awards 55 years ago, and this year's 19 awards are the largest number ever distributed. The awards ceremony will take place April 26th at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan. As in years past, acclaimed authors Ari L. Goldman and Samuel G. Freedman will serve as masters of ceremonies. It is free and open to the public.