National Jewish Book Award

The National Jewish Book Awards are presented at a celebratory gathering in the spring of the year following the publication of the books under consideration. The Book Club Award recognizes an outstanding work of fiction or nonfiction that inspires meaningful conversation about Jewish life, identity, practice, or history. The Award recognizes the power of books to inspire Jewish community and thought-provoking discussions.

Year: 2017

The Language of Angels: A Story About the Reinvention of Hebrew

Author: Richard Michelson

This is the story of Ben Zion and his father who bring back the ancient Hebrew (Jewish) language to the Jews. Ben and his family live in Israel along with many other Jews who speak the languages of the countries they have been living in. Ben’s family speaks Hebrew but the other Jews only speak it to say prayers. Ben’s father eventually opens a school to teach the children Hebrew and they bring back the use of the Hebrew language.

Year: 2016

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Author: Debbie Levy

This biographical sketch of Ruth Bader Ginsburg helps readers understand how Ruth’s mother influenced her to become an independent woman. The story also helps readers understand prejudice against Jewish people, expectations for women to stay home to raise families, and Ruth’s path to becoming one of the few female lawyers, law professors, judges and eventually, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. 

Year: 2015

Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Author: Tanya Simon and Richard Simon

Young Oskar is sent from his home by his parents to protect him from the violence in Nazi Europe in the 1930s. Leaving home is scary enough, but Oskar has been sent alone to America to live with an aunt he’s never met. Oskar’s parents have taught him the value of blessings which he receives at the hands of strangers as he ventures to his aunt’s home on Broadway Avenue in New York City.

Year: 2014

The Patchwork Torah

Author: Allison Ofanansky

This is the story of a young Jewish boy, David, whose grandfather is a sopher, or a scribe. David lives in the United States during World War II while his cousins live in Europe. They survived the war and rescued a Torah scroll (Jewish holy book) as they fled the Nazis. Several Torah scrolls are rescued from peril throughout this story as David grows to adulthood and becomes a sopher. He is faced with trying to repair them.

Year: 2013

Hanukkah Bear

Author: Eric A. Kimmel

Bubba Brayna lives on the outskirts of the village. Even though she is 97 years old, she loves to make potato latkes for her rabbi. While she prepares for Hanukkah by making latkes, a hungry bear smells them and ends up at her door. Bubba no longer has good eye sight and she mistakes the bear for the rabbi and invites him in. After Bubba spends the evening entertaining the bear, she sends him on his way. Not long after, the rabbi and villagers show up at Bubba's house. She realizes her mistake and puts everyone to work making another batch of latkes.

Year: 2012

The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other

Author: Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg

The townspeople are arguing about whether they should put their mezuzah standing up or lying down, so they consult their rabbi who gives wise advice. This book teaches the value of listening to each other, and considering others’ perspectives, and provides a look into the Jewish culture.


Year: 2011

The Golem’s Latkes

Author: retold by Eric A. Kimmel

The golem is a magical being created by the rabbi from a lump of clay. The golem can do any chore he’s asked very well, but he won’t stop until he’s been given that command. The rabbi gives his new housemaid, Basha, her list of work to accomplish before Hanukkah while he visits the Emperor. Basha uses the golem to help her finish her work, but doesn’t follow the rabbi’s orders. As a result, the entire city ends up being filled with potato latkes.

Year: 2010

The Rooster Prince of Breslov

Author: Ann Redisch Stampler

This traditional Yiddish tale is told in many parts of the world. In it a  young prince wearies of being a human and decides to disrobe, cluck like a rooster, and peck at bread crumbs and kernels of corn. After several failed attempts to cure the prince, an old man promises a cure in seven days. The wise man is successful in restoring the prince’s humanity by prompting acts of kindness.

Year: 2001

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?

Author: Jonah Winter

Sandy Koufax is arguably one of the best pitchers of all time. Sandy was different than most pitchers, not only was he a left-handed pitcher, but Mr. Koufax was Jewish. At the beginning of the story, we learn that Sandy wasn’t always a star pitcher, as he struggled early on during his time with the Dodgers. Sandy was different than most players; he was incredibly quiet and kept to himself, characteristics that didn’t make it easy for his teammates to like him. To make matters worse, teammates said nasty things about Sandy behind his back just for being Jewish. This was one of the leading causes for Sandy to quit baseball! Luckily, Sandy returned next season, and this time, he was ready. That was the season Sandy Koufax started his journey to being the legend he is today. Even though he had great success, Sandy never let the stardom affect his beliefs, as he sat out a game during the World Series since it fell on a religious holiday. After retiring at the height of his career (due to potential life-long injury), people truly recognized that Sandy played the game his way.