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Chronicle of a Son’s Mourning Wins Prize at Jewish Book Awards

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Literary journeys took center stage at the Jewish Book Council’s 49th annual National Jewish Book Awards.

Leon Wieseltier’s "Kaddish," a chronicle of a son’s year of mourning for his father that explores the origins and meaning of the kaddish prayer, won the award for non-fiction at the award.

The fiction award went to "The Iron Tracks" by Aharon Applefeld, the Israeli author who weaves his vision of Jewish assimilation through the tale of a Holocaust survivor searching along the railroads of Europe for his father’s killer.

In "Jacob, Mehanem & Mimoun," the winner for autobiography/memoir, Marcel Benabou returns from Paris to his birthplace in Morocco to find that the world of his childhood had disappeared.

Philip Roth, who was unable to attend the March 11 ceremony in New York due to illness, was honored for distinguished literary achievement.

The awards are given each year to authors of Jewish books published in the United States and Canada.

Winners in other categories were:

Women’s Studies: "Jewish Women in America," 800 biographies and topical essays compiled by editors Paula Hyman and Deborah Dash Moore.

Jewish-Christian Relations: "Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus," a study of the work and influence of the 19-century Jewish scholar by Susannah Heschel.

Holocaust: "Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany," an illustration of the Holocaust’s beginnings as seen by women who experienced its humiliations, by Marion Kaplan.

Children’s Literature: "Heeding the Call," a look at Jewish activists’ contribution to the fight for civil rights, by Norman Finkelstein.

Children’s Picture Book: "You Never Know," a lesson in how to treat others, by Francine Prose and illustrated by Mark Podwal.

Thought: "Engendering Judaism," an examination of the effects of including women in Jewish law, prayer, sexuality and marriage. by Rachel Adler.

Sephardic Studies: "The Geonim of Babylonia," an analysis of the critical role of Middle Eastern Jewry in forging rabbinic civilization, by Robert Brody.

Sephardic and Ashkenazic Culture: "A Time to Be Born: Customs and Folklore of Jewish Birth," by Michele Klein.

Education: "First Fruit: A Whizin Anthology of Jewish Family Education," edited by Adrienne Bank and Ron Wolfson.

Jewish Scholarship: "Entering the High Holy Days: A Complete Guide to History, Prayers and Themes" by Reuven Hammer.

Israel: "Israel’s Place in the Middle East" by Nissim Rejwan.

History: "Hebrews of the Portuguese: Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam" by Miriam Bodian.

Special awards were presented to Blu Greenberg (Women’s Studies), Yosef Abramowitz (Children’s Literature), Mark Mirsky (Fiction) and Francine Klagsbrun (Non-Fiction).

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