Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature lauds nonfiction in virtual award ceremony

This year's winner was Menachem Kaiser for his book Plunder, which details the author's experience with his Holocaust-survivor grandfather's former battle to reclaim the family's apartment in Poland.

 Menachem Kaiser documents his journey in “Plunder." (photo credit: BEOWULF SHEEHAN/HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT VIA JTA)
Menachem Kaiser documents his journey in “Plunder."
(photo credit: BEOWULF SHEEHAN/HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT VIA JTA)

Menachem Kaiser, author of Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure, was awarded on Monday the prestigious Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

The prize is given in association with the National Library of Israel. It was established by Sami Rohr's three children to honor their father and his deep love of Jewish learning.

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

The $100,000 prize is granted annually, for non-fiction and fiction in alternating years, to an emerging writer who demonstrates the potential for continued contribution to the world of Jewish literature.

Kaiser’s book tells the story of his Holocaust-survivor grandfather’s former battle to reclaim the family’s apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland.

"It is presented to an author as well as to the author's book. It must be someone who is at the start of his or her career and who also makes a good spokesperson for Jewish life, culture and literature."

Rabbi David Wolpe

The award was presented in an online ceremony, moderated by Rabbi David Wolpe.

“What makes this different from other literary prizes,” Wolpe said, “is that it is presented to an author as well as to the author’s book. It must be someone who is at the start of his or her career and who also makes a good spokesperson for Jewish life, culture and literature.”

Three other writers were recognized as finalists.

The 2022 Sami Rohr Prize finalists are:

Ayala Fader, author of Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age, a revealing look at Jewish men and women who secretly explore the outside world while remaining in their ultra-Orthodox religious communities.

Danny Adeno Abebe, author of From Africa to Zion, an insider’s perspective on the Ethiopian-Israeli immigrant experience.

Eylon Levy, translator of From Africa to Zion, is the first finalist in that category in the history of the Sami Rohr Prize.