Jewish artists and scholars recognized in annual awards

NEW YORK, June 15 (JTA) — To highlight Jewish achievement in art and scholarship, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored the best and brightest last week during two ceremonies here. For 10 years, the arts awards have crystalized the importance of the arts for the Jewish community and also have demonstrated the immense contribution Jews have made to arts in the United States, said Dan Schifrin, director of communications at the foundation. “Both of these issues bode well for the health and future of the Jewish community in the United States,” Schifrin said. This year’s honorees for achievements in the arts are: A Traveling Jewish Theatre, a troupe that was given the Performing Arts Award; author Allegra Goodman, who received the Literary Arts Award; director Stanley Lumet, who was given the Media Arts Award; and artist Archie Rand, who was honored with the Visual Arts Award. In the scholarship segment of the awards, Robert Chazan, professor of Jewish studies at New York University, was given the Historical Studies Award; the Textual Studies Award was received by Arthur Heyman, dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School at Yeshiva University; the chairwoman of Judaica at the Jewish Museum, Vivian Mann, was honored with the Social, Literary, and Cultural Studies Award. Past winners in the arts include such Jewish luminaries as Elie Wiesel, Saul Bellow, Cynthia Ozick and Philip Roth, while academic notables such as Leonard Fein and Yosef Yerushalmi are two of the past laureates in the scholarship category. According to Schifrin, the awards are designed to draw attention to the Jewish content of the recipients’ work and teach more about the roles the artists’ and scholars’ Jewish identities play in their efforts. For example, Schifrin said, many recognize the Academy Award-nominated Lumet as one of the greatest Hollywood directors, but his Jewishness is largely unknown.
The annual NFJC awards have been likened to the Jewish community’s equivalent of the Kennedy Center Awards.

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