November 6, 2003 -- Amos Oz, the award-winning Israeli author, poet, and critic, received the Reform Jewish Movement's highest honor today during the Union of American Hebrew Congregations' Biennial Convention in Minneapolis.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and Rabbi Paul Menitoff, executive director of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, presented Oz with the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award.
"Amos Oz's writings demonstrate, sometimes in poetic prose, his dissatisfaction with simple answers and his ability to convey the uncertainties of life, the complexities of the human heart and the moral ambiguities that permeate our existence," Menitoff said.
The Eisendrath Award is named for the former executive director and president of the UAHC, who served the organization from 1943 until his death in 1973. Past recipients of the Eisendrath Award include Shimon Peres, James and Sarah Brady; Anwar Sadat, Marion Wright Edelman, and the New York City rescue personnel who worked tirelessly to save lives in the aftermath of 9/11.
In his eighteen novels, as well as his nonfiction essays and articles, Oz draws on his experiences of living on a kibbutz and serving in the Israeli army during the Six Day and Yom Kippur Wars. His books include My Michael (1968), published in more than 20 countries, In the Land of Israel, a documentary account of the author's journey through Israel during the 1982 Lebanon war, and Panther in the Basement (1995), a best-selling short novel about the last year of the British administration of Jerusalem. His fiction explores the duality of Israeli life, often focusing on the struggle between peace and violence, optimism and skepticism.
According to Newsweek, Oz is "eloquent, humane, and even religious in the deepest sense…a complex man obsessed with simple decency and determined, above all, to tell the truth, regardless of whom it offends." He has been a visiting fellow at Oxford University in England, an author-in-residence at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Colorado College, and an Officer of Arts and Letters of France. In 1988, Oz won the French Prix Femina Etranger, France's top literary award, for his novel Black Box; and in 1992 he received the Frankfurt Peace Prize. He currently lives in Arad, Israel, and teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
More than 4,000 people from Reform congregations across North America are attending the Reform Movement's five-day Biennial Convention in Minneapolis.