Navigate to News section

‘The Aleppo Codex’ Nabs the Sami Rohr Prize

Matti Friedman’s historical thriller about a medieval Hebrew Bible wins big

Adam Chandler
November 07, 2013

Last month, the finalists for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature were announced, giving an immediate boost of prestige to five lucky (and deserving) authors along with the tantalizing prospect of a $100,000 prize. The 2014 winner has been named: Matti Friedman, who is a crackerjack reporter, won for his book The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible. Listen to his stellar Vox Tablet podcast here.

From the Jewish Book Council:

“This year’s winners, one whom wrote a true life detective story on a thousand-year-old Hebrew Bible, and the other who explores how community influences one’s speech patterns, are recognized for their achievements in non-fiction and represent some of the best and the brightest writers on Jewish scholarship and non-fiction today,” says Carolyn Starman Hessel, Director of the Jewish Book Council, the coordinating organization for the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary programs.

The aforementioned runner-up is Sarah Bunin Benor’s Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism. Each year, the prize alternates between fiction and non-fiction (and you’d be amazed at how much this influences the timing and release of books with Jewish themes).

The other finalists this year were Marni Davis for Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition, Nina S. Spiegel for Embodying Hebrew Culture: Aesthetics, Athletics, and Dance in the Jewish Community of Mandate Palestine, and Eliyahu Stern for The Genius: Elijah of Vilna and the Making of Modern Judaism.

The next non-fiction prize will be in 2016 so you scribes better get cracking. Congrats Matti!

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.