Nobody remembers whether the Torah has ever won a book award before. This year's National Jewish Book Award for general nonfiction goes to "Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary," edited by David Lieber and Jules Harlow (Jewish Publication Society, 2001).
Ten years in the making, "Etz Hayim" includes insight from such notables as Rabbi Harold Kushner and the late Chaim Potok. Its commentary reflects recent archaeological findings, textual interpretation and, for the first time, the opinions of women rabbis.
The 52nd Annual National Jewish Book Awards, awarded by the Jewish Book Council, were given out on Oct. 30 to launch National Jewish Book Month in November.
Other winners include:
Education: "Reclaiming Goodness: Education and the Spiritual Quest" by longtime L.A. resident Rabbi Hanan Alexander, the former vice president and dean of the University of Judaism and former editor of the Journal of Religious Education: An Interfaith Journal of Spirituality, Growth and Transformation.
Fiction: "Everything is Illuminated," the debut novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (Houghton Mifflin);
Autobiography/Memoir: "The Rebbe's Daughter" by Malkah Shapiro (Jewish Publication Society);
Eastern European Studies: "Stalin's Secret Pogrom" by Joshua Rubenstein and Vladimir Naumov (Yale University Press/U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum);
History: "Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews -- A History" by James Carroll (Houghton Mifflin);
Holocaust: Alexandra Zapruder won for her new book, "Salvaged Pages" (Yale University Press);
Children's Literature: "Forged in Freedom: Shaping the Jewish-American Experience" by Norman Finkelstein (Jewish Publication Society);
Children's Picture Book: "The Littlest Pair" (Pispopany) by Sylvia Rouss.
Eligible books are nominated by publishers. This year's 15 awards include books published between Jan. 1, 2001 and April 30, 2002.
Dr. Hanan Alexander will offer an in-depth study of his new book at Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay on Shabbat evening Feb. 7, Sunday afternoon Feb. 9 and Tuesday, Feb. 11. For more information, call (310) 377-6986.