People of the prize

Sami Rohr literary award inks alliance with Israel National Library

New literature partnership will now also consider works translated into English; prize ceremony to be held in Israel in alternate years

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

A simulated image of the new National Library of Israel Reading Hall. (Courtesy: Herzog de Meuron/Mann Shinar Architects)
A simulated image of the new National Library of Israel Reading Hall. (Courtesy: Herzog de Meuron/Mann Shinar Architects)

A new literary alliance between the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the National Library of Israel will bring the prize ceremony on alternate years to the library’s new Jerusalem campus, and consider works translated into English.

The prize will now be officially known as the “Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature awarded in association with the National Library of Israel,” the two announced on Tuesday.

The Sami Rohr Prize recognizes contemporary writers, with an annual $100,000 prize presented to emerging writers, in fiction and nonfiction in alternating years.

Recent winners have included Benjamin Balint, Michael David Lukas and Ilana Kurshan. In 2021, Nicole Krauss became the first recipient of the Prize’s Inspiration Award for Fiction.

The annual award ceremony takes place alternately in Israel and the US, and from now, when held in Israel, will take place at the new National Library of Israel campus.

The National Library and Sami Rohr Prize, working with the library’s American affiliate, is also developing joint programming and collaborative initiatives, the two institutions said, including professional networking between fellows of the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute and of the National Library of Israel writers-in-residence programs, the Pardes literary incubator and the intercultural Bustan poetry incubator.

The Sami Rohr Prize was created in 2006 by his children, in honor of the philanthropist’s 80th birthday. Rohr passed away in 2012, and the prize is intended to honor his lifelong love of Jewish learning and great books.

The National Library of Israel was founded in Jerusalem in 1892, and serves as Israel’s pre-eminent research library.

The institution is engaged in efforts to discover new audiences through different initiatives, including at its new campus, with 45,000 square meters (484,376 square feet) of space, being constructed adjacent to the Knesset and across the street from the Israel Museum.

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