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The 2015 National Jewish Book Awards Winners

Shulem Deen, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, and Laura Amy Schlitz are among the winners

Jonathan Zalman
January 13, 2016

On Wednesday, the Jewish Book Council announced the winners of the 2015 National Jewish Book Awards. An awards ceremony will take place in New York City on March 9.

The Book of the Year is Bruce Hoffman’s Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947, which explores the history of pre-1947 Palestine, and the violent birth of the modern Jewish homeland.

Shulem Deen’s All Who Go Do Not Return, a memoir about leaving the Hasidic community, won the award for Contemporary Jewish Life & Practice. Deen was a guest on Tablet’s Unorthodox podcast in October 2015, which you can listen to here.

The winner in the Education & Jewish Identity category is Ted Merwin for his book Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli.

The winner of the Fiction category is Daniel Torday’s debut novel The Last Flight of Poxl West. (Upon the book’s release, Torday wrote an essay for Tablet, which can be read here.)

The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne by Polish journalist Anna Bikont (and translated to English by Alissa Valles), won the award in the Holocaust category. In his Tablet review of the book, David Mikics writes:

In her work as a reporter for the Gazeta Wyborcza, the liberal Polish newspaper, Bikont has done obsessive, heroic work, interviewing witnesses, perpetrators, and survivors of the Jedwabne massacre and similar mass killings of Jews in the nearby towns of Radzilow and Wasosz. She has discovered a bizarre psychological phenomenon: The townspeople of Jedwabne still insist that they are the victims of Jewish slander. The massacre, they say, was perpetrated either by a few thugs, probably people from out of town, or by the Germans.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks won an award for his book Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence, marking the fifth time he has won a National Jewish Book Award.

And the winner in the Young Adult Literature category is Laura Amy Schlitz’s The Hired Girl, which also made Tablet columnist Marjorie Ingall’s list of the best Jewish children’s book of 2015. She called it “masterful.”

Click here for a full list of the finalists and winners of the 2015 National Jewish Book Awards.

Jonathan Zalman, a staff editor, runs The Scroll, Tablet’s news blog.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.