The Sophie Brody Award

The Sophie Brody Award was first awarded in 2006, and includes a medal for the winner, as well as citations for selected honor books. It is funded by Arthur Brody and the Brodart Foundation, and is given to encourage, recognize and commend outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. Works for adults published in the United States in the preceding year will be eligible for the award. A comprehensive list of award criteria can be found under the Nominations heading on this page.

The award is named for Sophie Brody, a philanthropist and community volunteer who held major leadership positions in the Jewish community. She served as a member of the Executive Board and Board of the Women's Division of United Jewish Federation. With her husband Arthur, she created the Sophie Brody Leadership Development Fund to enable the United Jewish Federation to train future leaders for the Jewish community.

Nominations

Those interested in submitting a book for consideration should contact the committee chair for instructions. The current chair is Barbara Bibel (bbibel "at" gmail.com).

In the context of this award, Jewish literature will be defined as fiction, nonfiction, or poetry that has as its central purpose the exploration of the Jewish experience. The religious affiliation of the author will not be considered in the awarding of the medal or the honor books. In support of the stated purpose, the following criteria will be used to determine and select the winning title and any honor books:

  1. A book may be selected for at least one, and preferably more than one, of the following reasons:
    • It possesses exceptional literary merit.
    • It presents the many aspects of the Jewish experience through a lens that expands the reader's understanding.
    • It explores Jewish characters, settings, themes, philosophies, or other identifiably Jewish aspects through a literary context.
    • It broadens the understanding of the reader in regards to Jewish history, culture, and identity.
  2. Each book will be considered in relation to the general adult reader. Books requiring highly specialized knowledge for their use will not be eligible. Books will not be excluded on the basis of their unsuitability for younger readers. Books intended for a younger audience but which hold wide appeal for adults and meet the selection criteria may also be considered.
  3. Regarding Honor Books, the Sophie Brody Medal Committee must award the Brody Medal to at least one book annually. There are no requirements for honor books to be awarded if the committee decides that honor books are not appropriate in a given year. Honor books should be chosen based on the same criteria used for the medal winner.

Recipients

2014 Yossi Klein Halevi, Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, HarperCollins
Honorable Mentions: Ari Shavit, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, Spiegel & Grau.
Jeremy Dauber, The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye, Schocken.
2013 Matti Friedman, The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible, Algonquin
Honorable Mentions: Anouk Markovits, I Am Forbidden, Hogarth.
Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Knopf.
Herman Wouk, The Lawgiver.
2012 Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole, Sacred Trash: the Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, Schocken Books
Honorable Mentions: Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jerusalem: the Biography, Alfred A. Knopf.
Art Spiegelman, MetaMaus, Pantheon Books.
Erika Dreifus, Quiet Americans: Stories, Last Light Studio Books.
2011 Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time, Random House
Honorable Mentions: Eshkol Nevo, Homesick, Dalkey Archive.
2010 Jonathon Keats, The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six, Random House
Honorable Mentions: Thomas Buergenthal, Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy, Little Brown; Melvin Konner, The Jewish Body, Schocken; Clara Kramer and Stephen Gantz, Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival, Ecco.
2009 Peter Manseau, Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, Free Press.
Honorable Mentions: Ron Leshem, Beaufort, Delacorte Press; A.B. Yehoshua, Friendly Fire; Arie Kaplan, From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books, Jewish Publication Society.
2008 Nathan Englander, The Ministry of Special Cases, Knopf.
Honorable Mentions: Shalom Auslander, Foreskin’s Lament: A Memoir, Riverhead Books; Diane Ackerman, The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story, Norton; and Joyce Antler, You Never Call! You Never Write! A History of the Jewish Mother, Oxford University Press.
2007 Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, HarperCollins.
Honorable Mentions: Dara Horn, The World to Come, Norton; Sandy Tolan, The LemonTree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, Bloomsbury; and Markus Zusak, The Book Thief, Knopf.
2006 Avner Mandelman, Talking to the Enemy, Seven Stories Press.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Wex, Born to Kvetch, St. Martin's; Michael Lavigne, Not Me, Random House; and Tom Reiss, The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life, Random House.