For immediate release | January 27, 2013

'The Aleppo Codex' wins RUSA’s Sophie Brody Medal for achievement in Jewish literature; 3 honor books also selected

SEATTLE — The 2013 Sophie Brody Medal for achievement in Jewish literature--an annual honor bestowed by the Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) and sponsored by the Brodart Foundation, has been awarded to “The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible” by Matti Friedman.

The Sophie Brody Medal encourages and recognizes outstanding achievement in Jewish literature, and is given annually to a work of fiction, nonfiction or poetry that has as its central purpose the exploration of the Jewish experience. Friedman’s “The Aleppo Codex” (Algonquin, ISBN 9781616200404) is a beautifully written and compelling work that illuminates a remarkable range of Jewish themes: the Diaspora, the State of Israel, the survival of original Jewish texts, and the fate of the Jews in the Arab world. The mystery is a real page turner. Three books received honorable mentions:

  • “I Am Forbidden” by Anouk Markovits (Hogarth, ISBN 9780307984739) is a mystical novel that follows the fateful rescue of Mila, leading to her life in the ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hassidic community in Europe and Brooklyn. This emotionally gripping story travels through history, bringing together and tearing apart family and faith.
  • Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” (Knopf, 9780307958709a)is a powerful collection of short stories spanning a wide range of time and space. With direct and dynamic language, Englander shares his vision of the human condition.
  • “The Lawgiver” by Herman Wouk is a humorous yet deep novel written in epistolary format. It describes the making of a movie about Moses. One can read the book on several levels, seeing Moses in new ways.

This year’s winner and honor books were selected by the Sophie Brody Medal committee; this year’s committee members are Barbara Bibel, chair, Oakland Public Library; Donald Altschiller, Boston University; Emily Bergman, University of Southern California; Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa College; Elliot H. Gertel, University of Michigan; Danise Hoover, Hunter College; Lisa Johnston, Sweet Briar College; Judy Korn, Johnson Community College; and Adela Peskorz, Metropolitan State University.

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Not a member, but interested in being part of a member community and enjoying discounted registration rates on conference, preconferences and other events? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at Learn more about the association at


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