Daniel Gordis’s Israel Wins National Jewish Book Awards’ Book of the Year
Dr. Daniel Gordis won the Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year Award on Tuesday for Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, an ambitious attempt to examine the idea of the Jewish state as much as the remarkable historical events that shaped it.
The National Jewish Book Award is recognized as the preeminent award in the field of Jewish literature. Since 2002, one non-fiction book has been selected as the Jewish Book of the Year; past winners include Ambassador Michael Oren, Jonathan Sarna, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Amos Oz.
The book, described by the Jewish Book Council as “a new history of Israel [that] should become a standard for years to come, perhaps even a classic,” has been hailed by reviewers for going beyond the standard military and political histories of Israel to trace the conversations, encounters, and conflicting ideologies and aspirations whose roots go back more than a century, and which have made the country’s current challenges and crises all but inevitable.
Ambassador Dennis Ross, for example, declared that the narrative “captures the essence of who Israel is, where it has come from, and why the Jewish state will—and must—continue to exist.” He continues, “When I am asked ‘Is there one book to read about Israel?’ I now have an answer.”
Responding to the announcement of his book’s selection for the prestigious prize, Gordis, Senior Vice President and Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College, called the recognition “deeply gratifying and a great honor. Writing this book was a labor of love.”
Explaining that the conversation about Israel all too often focuses on the conflict with Israel’s neighbors, Gordis said that his goal was to reveal the “other” Israel: “one of the grandest human accomplishments of all time.” He hopes that readers will come to see Israel not only as a country in conflict, but more so as the place “in which Jews of all backgrounds have gathered together to reimagine what Jewish peoplehood can mean when coupled to sovereignty.”
The announcement marks the second time that Gordis has been the recipient of the National Book Award, having been honored in 2009 for his book Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End. His book Pledges of Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Orthodox Responsa, co-authored with Rabbi David Ellenson, was a finalist for the award in the Scholarship category.
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