Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature partners with Israel National Library

The Sami Rohr Prize was established in 2006 to recognize the unique role of contemporary writers in the examination and transmission of the Jewish experience.

 A simulation of the new National Library being built in Jerusalem. (photo credit: HERZOG & DE MEURON; MANN-SHINAR ARCHITECTS EXECUTIVE ARCHITECT)
A simulation of the new National Library being built in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: HERZOG & DE MEURON; MANN-SHINAR ARCHITECTS EXECUTIVE ARCHITECT)

The Sami Rohr Prize, the largest prize in Jewish literature, and the National Library of Israel (NLI) have announced a new collaboration that will promote their shared vision to further cultivate a vibrant international Jewish literary culture and community.

The Sami Rohr Prize was established in 2006 to recognize the unique role of contemporary writers in the examination and transmission of the Jewish experience. The annual $100,000 prize is presented to an emerging writer, for fiction and nonfiction in alternating years, who demonstrate the potential for continued contribution to the world of Jewish literature. Recent winners have included Benjamin Balint, Michael David Lukas and Ilana Kurshan.

In 2021, Nicole Krauss became the first recipient of the Prize's Inspiration Award for Fiction.

 Sami Rohr (credit: Courtesy of Sami Rohr Prize) Sami Rohr (credit: Courtesy of Sami Rohr Prize)

The annual award ceremony takes place alternately in Israel and the United States. With the opening of the new National Library of Israel campus in Jerusalem later this year, the Israeli prize ceremony and festivities will take place at the new NLI. The Sami Rohr Prize will be officially announced as the "Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature awarded in association with the National Library of Israel". In previous years, the Prize was only awarded for original works in English. Now, for the first time ever, works that have been translated into English will also be eligible for consideration.

Home to the largest collection of textual Judaica ever amassed and mandated to serve as the national library for both the State of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community, the National Library of Israel offers singular assets for the preservation, promotion, and cultivation of the fruits of Jewish literary creativity.

The new building and its surrounding gardens and plazas were built to reflect the central values of democratizing knowledge. Within its 45,000 square meters of space, it will provide venues for exhibitions, as well as cultural and educational programming in a secure, sustainable and state-of-the-art environment. 

"We are extremely excited about the potential of this new association,” said George Rohr, son of Sami Rohr and co-founder of the prize. “The Sami Rohr Prize and the National Library of Israel share a vision of encouraging the growth of a prolific global Jewish literary culture and are committed to working together towards this common goal. Our collaboration will inform, encourage and enrich each other's work, and we hope that it will help nurture ever-growing Jewish literary excellence and creativity.”

Shai Nitzan, the new NLI rector, said that the “passionate vision and activities of the Sami Rohr literary initiatives, paired with the unparalleled collections, mission, and setting of the National Library of Israel, present exceptional opportunities for the joint cultivation of a vibrant literary culture and community."