8 / 14 / 22
SRP: What part of your book was the most challenging to write and why?
The chapter on conspiracy theories took the longest, because there was so much research involved. That was like six months of research.
The most conceptually challenging was the last chapter, because to a certain extent it subverts or even undermines the stakes of the whole book.
3 / 1 / 22
As a Jewish historian, I’ve spent decades traveling across the world to read old and rare Jewish books in the research libraries that house them. Physical books are fragile things, and for people in my profession, there is nothing quite like them.
Michael P. Kramer
5 / 25 / 21
May 1949. In the throes of a controversy following the release of David Lean’s film adaptation of Dickens’ Oliver Twist, the horror of the Holocaust hovering, an essay appears in Commentary by the young literary critic Leslie Fiedler called, “What Can We Do About Fagin?”
Pamela S. Nadell
2 / 4 / 21
During Women’s History Month in March 2019, my book America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today appeared. Nine months earlier, I had pressed send on my computer winging the manuscript into production.
12 / 30 / 20
Bidding farewell to 2020, we asked Daniel to share insights from his experience teaching creative writing during the pandemic, as well as thoughts on the outlook for the future.
Rabbi David Wolpe
12 / 8 / 20
SRP: How is being a Rabbi for such a large congregation different during the pandemic? What are your biggest challenges?
DW: The biggest challenge we face is coherence without community – how do we keep people feeling close to one another when they cannot meet in person?
10 / 29 / 20
SRP: Who or what provides inspiration for your writing?
HW: Inspiration comes unexpectedly and I often can’t pinpoint precisely where the idea for a story comes from. It can come from something I read, a book I’m translating, a piece of music, something in the news.
Jewish Book Carnival
10 / 15 / 20
The Sami Rohr Prize Guest Forum is delighted to host the October 2020 Jewish Book Carnival. This monthly event, organized by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL), allows those of us who cover the world of Jewish books online
9 / 22 / 20
As a critic, I'm happy not to have to predict (or request) what novelists will write about--I wouldn't trust me to come up with an idea for a novel! Good fiction can't be written to order, either. That said, I will be very happy to see more fiction by and about BIPOC and trans Jews; there are a handful of worthwhile examples I can think of, but there's certainly a pressing need for many more such stories
Sara Yael Hirschhorn
8 / 16 / 20
My new book project, tentatively entitled “New Day in Babylon and Jerusalem: Zionism, Jewish Power, and Identity Politics Since 1967,” is a sequel to the first book, considering the fate of Jewish Zionists who remained in the United States after 1967 and found that the war(s) in the Middle East brought new battles over their own identity home to America
7 / 28 / 20
The late summer holiday of Tisha B’Av, which literally means the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is a day of mourning that commemorates the loss of the First and Second Temples, both of which are said to have been destroyed on this day.
7 / 5 / 20
It started as a casual conversation when an Iranian-born colleague asked me if I knew anything about Holocaust refugees in Iran and ended a decade later with a 417-page book. The book is about my journey in the footsteps of a quarter million Polish Jews who survived World War Two in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, India and Eretz Yisrael.
6 / 18 / 20
One of my most meaningful encounters with the work of Franz Kafka did not make it into Kafka’s Last Trial. From 2011-2014, I taught a “great books” seminar to Palestinian students at the Al Quds-Bard College for Arts and Sciences in East Jerusalem, the only dual-degree liberal arts program in the Middle East.
6 / 7 / 20
Books or newspapers? It is a constant battle.
On the one hand, there is the daily news: keeping up with it, understanding it and analyzing it. On the other hand, there are the stories that I know need more and that the reader needs to be taken into deeper.
5 / 22 / 20
Nehemia is a Hebrew novel by Yakov Z. Mayer published in Israel to rave reviews in January 2019. The novel is based on the real historical figure of Nehemia HaCohen, a Polish kabbalist who denounced the false Messiah Shabbtai Zvi as an imposter.
Ayelet Tsabari, Matti Friedman, Evan Fallenberg
5 / 14 / 20
On Sunday, May 10th, the 2015 Sami Rohr Prize winner Ayelet Tsabari and the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize winner Matti Friedman participated in a literary conversation moderated by Sami Rohr Prize judge Evan Fallenberg as part of the Jerusalem Writers Festival's first digital edition.
Michael David Lukas
4 / 30 / 20
Not too long ago, in what feels like an entirely different world, a prominent Jewish organization invited me to give a speech. I was asked not to say anything too "political" in my speech, for fear of offending their donors. I thought I would share with this forum the short preamble I added as a response:
4 / 20 / 20
I did not cry the first time I went to Mannheim,
when my father and I studied the nameplates
listing the residents of the building on Ifflenstrasse
where his mother had been born, and grown up...
4 / 12 / 20
“I’m an extrovert in an introvert’s profession,” Rabbi Joseph Telushkin said, at our biennial Sami Rohr Institute a few years ago. I found myself nodding in agreement. As a child, I fell in love with the sound and weight of words, what it felt like when they were spoken out loud, or read in silence. Even though I could disappear into...
3 / 26 / 20
“I then have my coffee and come down to this room, sit at my desk, and wait. Without reading, listening to music, or answering the phone.”
That’s how Amoz Oz, whose words these are, wrote 40 books, including 14 novels...
3 / 12 / 20
When I tell people I got my M.D. and then left medicine to become a fiction writer, they often say, “That was brave.” This is, I think, another way of saying, “You are obviously insane.” It’s perhaps particularly hard to walk away from medicine as a Jew. In Jewish families going back to Maimonides and before...
2 / 27 / 20
Hanoch Levin is often called Israel’s greatest playwright, whose absurdist style drew acclaim and criticism and was often compared with Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett. During his foreshortened life (1943-1999) he wrote more than 60 plays, many of which became instant classics...
Sarah Abrevaya Stein
2 / 13 / 20
Determining when a book is done is a struggle for any writer. Realizing that a work of history is still unfolding is a revelation. It is in such a state that I find myself two months after the publication of my most recent book, Family Papers: a Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century...
Carolyn Starman Hessel
1 / 28 / 20
The format in which you are receiving this message is one I could only have dreamed about when the Sami Rohr Prize was established. Appropriately, this website is being launched at the beginning of a new year: a time of new beginnings, exciting initiatives and a fresh image as SRP enters the digital arena...