The Association of Jewish Studies has announced the two winners of the Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards.
Marina Rustow of the Johns Hopkins University was honored in the category of ancient and medieval Jewish history for Heresy and the Politics of Community: The Jews of the Fatimid Caliphate (Cornell University Press). A history of Karaism, Rustow’s book sets out to challenge the received scholarly notions of “heresy” and “mainstream.” Rustow is more interested in the social conditions that give rise to accusations of heresy than in defining the slippery concept.
Shachar M. Pinsker of the University of Michigan was honored in the category of Jewish literature and linguistics for Literary Passports: The Making of Modernist Hebrew Fiction in Europe (Stanford University Press). Two more runners-up were recognized: Gabriella Safran of Stanford University for Wandering Soul: The Dybbuk’s Creator, S. An-Sky (Harvard University Press), a book that I described on Jewish Ideas Daily as one of last year’s best, and Maeera Y. Shreiber of the University of Utah for Singing in a Strange Land: A Jewish American Poetics (Stanford University Press).
The great Jewish historian Lucy M. Dawidowicz once said that Jewish scholarship was a route to Jewish identity, and one of the richest. Scholars like Rustow, Pinsker, Safran, and Shreiber demonstrate just how right she was. They will be honored in ten days at the annual AJS convention, which is being held in Washington this year.