Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Celebrates Awards Recipients

The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature honored the winner and finalists of its 2020 award for non-fiction in an online ceremony.

New York, NY, August 13, 2020 --( The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature is pleased to announce that today it honored the winner and finalists of its 2020 award for non-fiction in an online ceremony.

The ceremony opened with introductory remarks by George Rohr, a founding member of the Prize in honor of his father Sami Rohr, and showcased this year's recipients in individual conversations conducted with each author by Rabbi David Wolpe, Sami Rohr Prize nonfiction judge.

"The continued legacy that Sami Rohr left us - love of Jewish books, Jewish culture and family - encompasses so much of what is that we cherish about our tradition," remarked Rabbi Wolpe.

The event was highlighted by the reading of an excerpt from Benjamin Balint's award winning book, "Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy" (W.W. Norton, 2019), by Daniella Rohr Adelsberg, Sami Rohr's granddaughter.

Benjamin Balint told the audience, "Literature holds the power to tap into great energies of our heritage, to offer a more coherent vision of who we are, and to carry forward the long procession of Jewish experiences and ideas."

Balint's book portrays a gripping account of the controversial trial that determined the fate of Franz Kafka's manuscripts. The book, which is at once a brilliant portrayal of a modern master and the complex story of the fight to claim his literary legacy, has received many accolades. It has been described as “fascinating and forensically scrupulous”, “dramatic and illuminating,” “thrilling and profound” and “brilliant, insightful and eloquent.”

This year's Sami Rohr Prize finalists for non-fiction include:

Mikhal Dekel, author of "Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey" (W.W. Norton, 2019). The book is a sweeping chronicle and affecting meditation on the escape of Jewish Polish children to the peculiar world of 1940’s Tehran. It has been described as "an engrossing narrative that weaves together a moving memoir, a gripping detective novel and social history."

Sarah Hurwitz, author of "In Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life – in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There)," (Spiegel & Grau, 2019). Writing in her own voice, Ms. Hurwitz invites us to share her journey towards fulfillment as she rediscovers the beauty and timeless lessons of Judaism. Described as a why-to guide, her book “illuminates - boldly, bravely and beautifully - why Judaism matters.”

Yaakov Katz, author of "Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power" (St. Martin’s Press, 2019), a riveting, powerful exploration of Israel’s daring operation to stop one of the greatest known acts of nuclear proliferation. With pacing reminiscent of a spy thriller and a journalist’s remarkable attention to detail, Shadow Strike takes readers behind the scenes in the Oval Office, Mossad headquarters and into the Syrian desert.

This year’s Sami Rohr Prize ceremony went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forgoing its traditional annual New York gala event to honor its recipients. "Celebrating this year's authors is especially meaningful during this challenging time," said Debra Goldberg Director of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. "From across the globe and in diverse ways, their work helps us to find connection through a shared commitment to Jewish literature, culture and community."

Inaugurated in 2007, the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature honors the legacy of Sami Rohr who enjoyed a lifelong love of Jewish learning and books. As the premier award of its kind, the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature recognizes the unique role of contemporary writers in the examination and conveyance of the Jewish experience. The $100,000 annual prize is awarded, in alternating years for non-fiction and fiction, to an emerging writer who demonstrates the potential for continued contribution to the world of Jewish literature. For more information, visit
Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature
Jill Twersky