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National Jewish Book Award Winners Announced

Yossi Klein Halevi, Amos Oz, and Ari Shavit take home top 2013 honors

Stephanie Butnick
January 15, 2014

The Jewish Book Council has announced the winners and runners-up for the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards, with the esteemed Jewish Book of the Year award going to Yossi Klein Halevi for Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation. Klein Halevi spoke with Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry in October about the book, which examines the lives of seven paratroopers from the 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade, who were photographed in front of the Western Wall what has become the defining image of the Six Day War, revealing the complexities of Israeli society as it has evolved over the past half century.

The winner for the fiction prize is Amos Oz, whose moving short story collection Between Friends tells the story of many intertwined lives during the early years of a kibbutz. Daniel Estrin spoke with Oz in September about the collection, plus his thoughts on Natalie Portman directing a film based on Oz’s earlier memoir (you can read the full transcript of the lively conversation here). One of the fiction finalists was Helene Wecker, for her novel The Golem and the Jinni, which Adam Kirsch reviewed in April.

Kenneth Bonert won in the outstanding debut fiction category for The Lion Seeker, which tells the story of South African Jews and which Kirsch called “a natural best-seller in which a carefully rendered, realistic setting frames a melodramatic and romantic plot.” Ari Shavit, meanwhile, took home the prize for history for his much talked-about book, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.

Another runner-up, this time in the Holocaust category, was Wendy Lower, whose book Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields offered a surprising look at the roles of women active in the Nazi regime, some of whom served not in offices or hospitals but on the front lines. Lower spoke with Sara Ivry in November about her shocking findings during her research for the book.

Congratulations to all the winners—you can find the full list here.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.