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The Rabbi Lord Sacks-Herenstein Center Of YU Announces Rabbi Sacks Book Prize 2023

Sacks Book Prize winner.

The Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center is proud to announce the winner and finalists of the Rabbi Sacks Book Prize, funded by a generous gift from the Rohr Family. They congratulate all three authors whose books, diverse in genre and style, make impactful contributions to contemporary Jewish thought.

The 2023 prize has been awarded to “Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders’ Dreams?” (Ecco, 2023) by Dr. Daniel Gordis.

Gordis, Koret distinguished fellow at Shalem College, assesses how Israel measures up against its founders’ aspirations in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. He discusses reasons for the establishment of the state, the flourishing Jewish and Israeli culture, the nation’s economy, the Israeli-Arab conflict, the distinct form of Judaism that has emerged and the nation’s complex relationship with the Diaspora.

The $50,000 award recognizes a book published in 2023 that is deeply sourced in Jewish texts, which also reflects a broad appeal within and beyond the Jewish community. The selections are in keeping with the scholarly legacy of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and were made in consultation with The Rabbi Sacks Legacy of the UK.

Sacks Book Prize finalist.

“Rabbi Sacks believed profoundly in the power of the written word,” said Dr. Erica Brown, vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University and founding director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center. “Presenting a literary award in his honor is an important recognition of his commitment to the flourishing of the Jewish bookshelf.”

The Sacks-Herenstein Center received over 50 impressive manuscripts of diverse genres and styles. “It was a privilege to be joined by Lady Elaine Sacks, Prof. Robert George (Princeton University), Prof. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson (Arizona State University), and Dean Daniel Rynhold (Bernard Revel Graduate School) to judge the prize,” said Dr. Shira Weiss, assistant director of the Sacks-Herenstein Center, who also conducted interviews with the winner and finalists which can be listened to on the Rabbi Sacks Book Prize Podcast on Spotify.

The two finalists for the prize are:

“Questioning Belief: Torah and Tradition in an Age of Doubt” (Koren, 2023) by Rabbi Dr. Raphael Zarum. Dean of the London School of Jewish Studies, Rabbi Zarum presents thorough, reasoned responses, based on Torah and tradition, to some of Judaism’s most challenging questions of belief, science and ethics.

“Covenant and World Religions: Irving Greenberg, Jonathan Sacks and the Quest for Orthodox Pluralism” (The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization in association with Liverpool University Press, 2023) by Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein. Founder and Director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein analyzes the theological and social views of Rabbi Sacks and Rabbi Greenberg, as they advocated to change how Judaism sees world religions.

Sacks Book Prize finalist.

Gordis will be presenting “From Darkness to Light: Israel the Day After” on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst. He will be presenting on “Negotiating the Impossible: The Israeli Hostage Crisis” on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 6:45 p.m. on YU’s Wilf Campus in Weissberg Commons.


Dr. Shira Weiss is the assistant director of the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership and teaches Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School. She is the author of Joseph Albo on Free Choice (Oxford, 2017), Ethical Ambiguity in the Hebrew Bible (Cambridge, 2018), and co-author of The Protests of Job: An Interfaith Dialogue (Palgrave, 2022), as well as articles in academic journals and anthologies.

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