While Israel and Turkey's diplomatic relations have suffered since Operation Cast Lead, cultural and academic ties between the two countries are getting a boost this week. On Tuesday, Israeli-born author and Hebrew University Prof. Ruth Kark, along with co-author and geographer Dr. Joseph B. Glass, will be awarded $15,000 for their research on the development of banking in Ottoman Palestine. The prize, awarded to winners of the Best Monograph in the Competition for Research on the History of Banking and Finance, 2008-2009, is sponsored by the Ottoman Bank Archives and Research Center, the European Association for Banking and Financial History and the History Foundation of Turkey. In their book, Sephardi Entrepreneurs in Jerusalem: The Valero Family 1800-1948, Kark and Glass present readers with a look at one of Jerusalem's founding families, the Valeros, who were responsible for establishing the first private bank in Israel. The book, however, is not just a look at the family's history, said Kark. "It's a rare glimpse at the day-to-day lives of Jews living in Ottoman-ruled Palestine, and a look at entrepreneurship in the Middle East during this time in history," she said. Glass has a doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has authored five books and numerous articles. Kark, a professor of geography at the Hebrew University, has written and edited 20 books and over 200 articles on the history and historical geography of the region. The competition aims to promote academic research on Turkish banking, finance and economic history, from Ottoman times to the present, and to establish a tradition in this field.