Michael W. Twitty’s food diary has named Kochersole Jewish Book of the Year

JTA – “Kochersol,” Chef Michael W. Twitty’s memoir of his career that fuses Jewish and African American culinary history, has been named the Jewish Book of the Year 2022 by the Council of Jewish Books.

Subtitled “An African American Jew’s Journey of Faith and Food,” Twitty’s book offers “a deep dive into theology, identity, and of course, food—giving readers the impetus to think about their heritage and religion in a new way.” said the council in naming Kochersole the Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year.

The winners of the 72nd National Jewish Book Prize were announced Wednesday at JCC Manhattan’s Marilyn Myerson as part of the inaugural Books That Changed My Life festival.

Dani Shapiro won her second National Jewish Book Award, and the JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for her novel Signal Fires. Set in 15 years, her first novel traces the aftermath of a fatal car accident on a family over 50 years.

Ashley Goldberg won the Goldberg Prize for First Fiction with his novel Abomination, which is about a scandal at a Jewish day school and the paths taken in its wake by two of its students, one secular and one religious. Miriam Ruth Black won the Miller Book Club Award for Shayna, an early 20th-century immigrant novel set in the shtetl and Lower East Side of New York.

In other nonfiction categories, Michael Frank was the winner in both the New Holocaust Memoirs category and the Sephardi Culture category for his book One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World. The book is based on his conversations with Levi, a Holocaust survivor who remembers the once vibrant Sephardi Jewish community that flourished on the Aegean island of Rhodes.

Michael W. Twitty preparing matzah balls with ginger and chili for Easter, April 2022 (Johnny Shryock)

“American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York” by Nomi M. Stolzenberg and David N. Mers, won Best Book in American Jewish Studies.

Jonathan Friedland won a Biography Award and a Holocaust Award for “The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World,” about Rudolf Vrba, whose death camp eyewitness report is largely ignored by various Allied government officials who They read it. Kenneth P. Moss’ book Unchosen People: A Jewish Political Account in Interwar Poland won the Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Prize in History.

Dania Rotenberg’s “On Repentance and Reform,” a rabbinical meditation on apologies and forgiveness in contemporary culture, won the award for Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice.

The board also honored Elaine Frankel, who served as Editor-in-Chief and CEO of the Jewish Publishing Association for 18 years, with the Mentoring Award in Honor of Caroline Starman Hessel—given in honor of the board’s longtime director, who retired in 2014. Cited is Frankel, who resigned She herself in 2009, mentoring authors, staff, and students at the Philadelphia-based publishing house, as well as advocating for female researchers.

Other winners

  • Inaugural Jane Weizmann Prize for Hebrew Fiction in Translation: Mayan Eitan, “Love” (self-translated)
  • Tracey and Larry Brown Children’s Picture Book Award: Shoshana Nambi, “Best Sekka: A Story from Uganda,” Illustrated by Moran Yogev
  • Young Adult Literature Prize: Susan Widder, “It’s My Whole Life: Charlotte Salomon: An Artist in hiding during World War II”
  • Middle Class Literature Prize: Stacy Nokowitz, “The Prince of Steel Pier”
  • Jane and Stuart Weitzman Family Food Writing and Cookbook Award: Benedetta Jasmin Guetta, “Cooking alla Giudia”
  • Berru Poetry Prize in Memory of Ruth and Bernie Wainflash: Shawn Singer, “Today in the Taxi”

The full list of winners and finalists for the 72nd National Jewish Book Award can be found here.

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