Koret Taps Jewish Family & Life! To Run Prestigious Book Awards Effort Will Jointly Promote Union for Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction
(March 3-San Francisco) -- Koret Foundation Funds today announced a major grant to Jewish Family & Life! (JFL)of Newton, MA, to manage the revitalized Koret International Jewish Book Awards in cooperation with the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (NFJC).
New to the Koret book awards is a Peoples Choice Award, with nominations and voting to take place online at JBooks.com in the fall. Additionally, at the awards ceremony, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture will announce the winner of the Goldberg Prize for Emerging Writers of Jewish Fiction and the Union for Reform Judaism will present The Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction thereby bringing greater attention to Jewish books and writers.
The first awards ceremony for the Koret International Jewish Book Awards under the new management is scheduled for November 2006, in San Francisco, honoring books published between Jan. 1, 2005 and May 31, 2006. Finalists will be announced in September, with notification of winners in October and a San Francisco awards ceremony November 15. Prizes of $5,000 will be awarded in the categories of Fiction; Jewish Life & Living (including biography, history, and culture); Jewish Thought; and Childrens Literature as well as for the Peoples Choice Award. Publishers are encouraged to visit www.JBooks.com for Koret International Jewish Book Award submission information. Submission requirements and information for the Goldberg Prize can be found at www.jewishculture.org and at www.urj.org/rjprize for The Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction.
"Expanding the reach and internationalizing Koret's book awards program is a natural extension of Koret's longstanding interest in helping to enhance Jewish intellectual development," said Koret President Tad Taube. "Partnering Uwith Jewish Family & Life! increases the accessibility of quality Jewish books to a broader reading public."
(JFL CEO) Yossi Abramowitz and his capable team provide just the shot-in-the-arm that we sought to take the Koret International Jewish Book Awards to the next level, said Jeffrey Farber, executive director of Koret Foundation Funds. Engaging the broader reading public in Jewish community dialogue through the identification of exemplary books is an important priority to Korets Board of Directors. Reading award-winning books is a great way to help people connect with Jewish life and culture.
Koret began recognizing excellence in Jewish writing in 1998, when Prof. Steven Zipperstein, director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University, proposed creation of the Koret Jewish Book Awards. Under his skillful leadership, the prizes grew to be among the most prestigious Jewish book awards for English-language publications, conferring awards on such literary luminaries as Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and Amos Oz, as well as recognizing outstanding first-time authors. An esteemed panel of advisory board members and judges evaluated the entries, which numbered more than 500 in 2005.
When, as part of its regular grantmaking process, Koret undertook an evaluation of the book awards in the summer of 2005, Zipperstein took the opportunity to step down from his role as director in order to pursue other projects.
JFL, a dynamic Jewish media organization committed to connecting Jews to Jewish life, was selected to reimagine Korets book awards. JFLs deep understanding of the literary field through longstanding management of JBooks.com, its experience in forging partnerships with other organizations, and its media reach to targeted audiences of all ages through GenerationJ.com, BabagaNewz magazine for middle school students, and other websites and magazines, bring the promise of sustained excellence and increased accessibility, both priorities stemming from the Koret evaluation.
We have enjoyed good relationships with Koret for a number of years, and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to deepen our ties through a signature Koret program, said JFL CEO Yossi Abramowitz.
The National Foundation for Jewish Culture continues as a partner, with more active participation in staffing, planning and oversight. This is a natural extension of the NFJCs literary arts program, which includes awarding the Goldberg Prize for Emerging Writers of Jewish Fiction and publishing the annual Jewish Literary Supplement that appears in Jewish newspapers across the country, reaching some 300,000 readers.
The National Foundation is proud to have been a partner in the Koret Jewish book awards since their inception in 1998, said Richard Siegel, executive director of NFJC. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to participate in a more active way.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said the opportunity to bring three major award programs together will strengthen each award and bring greater recognition to the writers.
Since its establishment in 2003, our goal has been to bring our award winners to the attention of a larger audience, he said. While we have publicized the winners through the pages of Reform Judaism magazine, which reaches more than 315,000 households, we are delighted that we will be able to reach readers in all denominations, he said.
Koret award winners have been highlighted in the Jewish Literary Supplement, as well as on JBooks.com, where the Koret Corner offers features by Koret authors, judges, and others associated with the program. A Koret-sponsored book review is featured in each issue of Shma, another JFL publication.
Through this partnership grant, Koret builds on the legacy of its book awards program with knowledgeable and experienced organizations that demonstrate entrepreneurial and pluralistic approaches to making Jewish life and culture accessible to a broad spectrum of Jewish audiences.