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Welcome to the 2021 National Jewish Book Awards

To submit a book for the 2021 National Jewish Book Awards, please read ALL the guidelines. The submission link is at the bottom of the page.

The mission of Jewish Book Council's National Jewish Book Awards is:

To promote the reading, writing, publishing, and distribution of quality books of Jewish content in English; to serve as the national resource center for information about the American Jewish literary scene; to serve as the coordinating body of Jewish literary activity in North America in both general and Jewish venues; and to serve as the North American representative of Jewish literature on the international scene.

The National Jewish Book Awards have been presented annually since 1950 to authors of books of exceptional literary achievement in a variety of Judaic subjects. The awards are designed to heighten awareness of outstanding books of Jewish interest published in the last year and
• to encourage the reading of meritorious books
• to recognize authors of outstanding Jewish literature
• to stimulate others to further literary creativity
• to acknowledge original contributions to scholarship


These awards acknowledge the seminal importance of a particular work. There is a monetary award for each winning author. A public presentation will recognize the superior efforts made by the author and publisher in preparation of the winning piece of literature. In addition, there is publicity for the event and the individual awardees. Presentations will be made at a ceremony in 2022.

Guidelines / Eligibility Rules
1A. Books, either hardcover or original paperback, published between January 1, 2021–December 31, 2021 are eligible. They may be submitted as finished copies, galleys, or bound manuscripts, but, in the case of galleys or bound manuscripts, must be replaced by finished copies at time of publication. Submission may be by author(s) or publisher.

1B. Due to COVID-19 circumstances, publishers must send digital copies of their submitted titles through the online portal or to njba@jewishbooks.org for distribution to the judges, in addition to physical copies, which should be mailed to:

Jewish Book Council/NJBA
520 8th Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10018

*A packing slip must be included with the shipment or emailed in advance of shipping. Any package received without a packing slip may incur a $20 fine.

Please send the digital and physical copies of the books as early as possible. Judges are not obligated to consider books that arrive after September 30, 2021.

2. If a book is published in November or December of 2020, and only if no galleys were available at that time, the book may be submitted for the 2021 program.

3. Complete series will not be accepted as one submission. Each title in the series must be submitted as an individual entry in the year of publication.

4. A previously submitted title, new translation, and/or reissue may not be resubmitted, unless it has been substantially reworked and has a new copyright date. A book that has won a National Jewish Book Award before cannot be resubmitted, regardless of a new copyright date.

5. The book must be available in English and distributed in North America.

6. Translations are eligible and must be submitted in the copyright year of the English translation. The prize will be split between the author(s) and the translator.

7. Books available in e-book format only are accepted; however, the selection may be requested as a hard copy submission further for judging purposes. This may be in bound galley format.

8. For purposes of the National Jewish Book Awards, a Jewish book is one that has Jewish content and deals with aspects of Judaism and Jewish life in the category(ies) delineated. A book cannot be considered for an award category merely because its author is Jewish. A book written by a non-Jewish author is eligible if it has Jewish content.

9. Collections of previously published short stories, essays, or articles by a single author that are gathered into one compendium are eligible and should be submitted into their appropriate category. Additionally, anthologies and collections edited by one or more authors should also be submitted into their appropriate category.

10. The entry form and guidelines for the Carolyn Starman Hessel Mentorship Award can be found at https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/awards/national-jewish-book-awards. Nominations should be made through the form found on that page.

11. Only works by authors who are living at the commencement of the eligible calendar year (January 1, 2021) may be submitted to the National Jewish Book Award competition. However, if the title is submitted to the Holocaust category, the book is still eligible, even if the main author is deceased, if the following conditions apply: there is new material (e.g., an  introduction) written by a living author, and this is the first English translation of the title. The book must also hold a copyright of 2021to be eligible.

Guidelines / Entry Rules 

1. ENTRY FORMS. Entry forms and digital copies of each book nominated must be submitted through the online portal or sent to njba@jewishbooks.org. Additionally, high-resolution photos of each author and book cover must be submitted through the online portal or emailed to njba@jewishbooks.org.

Seven or twelve physical copies (depending on the category) of each book nominated, along with a packing slip/package, should be sent, in addition to the digital copy.

**For submissions to the fiction, book club, and debut fiction categories, 12 copies of the book should be submitted either at the time of submission or (if unavailable the time) when requested. Submitted books will not be returned. If the book is deemed ineligible, books and payment will not be returned.

2. ENTRIES. All books must be received by September 30, 2021 with a completed entry form. No submission will be accepted without an entry form. There is a $165* handling fee for each title submitted, and payment must accompany the entry form. If, for some reason, the fee is not available at the time of submission, the application must indicate “Payment to follow” on the entry form. Payment must be received by October 31, 2021 or the title will become ineligible. If a selection wins, an additional five (5) copies, signed by the author, are required and will be requested by the Jewish Book Council. *An early bird price of $130 will be extended to anyone who submits and pays by August 13, 2021. The completed submission form, payment, and books must be received by August 13, 2021 in order for the submission to be eligible for the early bird price.

3. FORMAT.  All books, including e-books, must be submitted in print format, if requested by Jewish Book Council. 

4. SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS. Self-published books may be submitted.

5. CATEGORIES.  Attention to category definition is essential. Please see the accompanying definitions to identify the appropriate category for your submission. On the entry form, the editor of the book should specify one category as most appropriate. A book may be submitted to more than one category: it is $75 for EACH additional category and seven (7) more physical copies of the book should be submitted*. If the judges receive the submission and feel it would fit more appropriately in a different category, they may request that the title be switched. Should the publisher and/or author agree, an additional seven (7) physical copies may be requested at no additional fee. Please note that a book is now eligible to win multiple categories, but if a title is winner, it will not be listed as a finalist in any category.

*For submissions to the fiction, book club, and debut fiction categories, 12 copies of the book may be requested.

To submit to the Mentorship Award in honor of Carolyn Starman Hessel, please visit https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/awards/national-jewish-book-awards

6. OCCASIONAL AWARDS. Books in these categories will be judged over a span of up to three years. Books must be submitted in their year of publication and will be retained by the designated panel for future evaluation.

7. EVERETT FAMILY FOUNDATION JEWISH BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD.
All nonfiction books submitted are automatically eligible for the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award, which is determined by a select committee.

8. SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD. This category has been created to provide the Jewish Book Council with the flexibility to recognize selection(s) of outstanding merit. A select panel, headed by the Chair of the National Jewish Book Awards, will make this determination. In this case, additional copies of a book may be requested (with no additional fee required) by the panel.

9. AUTHORS. Authors must be made aware of, and consent to, the entry of their book for the National Jewish Book Awards. We wil contact the winners directly, so an author email address and phone number are required. 

10. WINNERS. Jewish Book Council will notify the authors of winning books directly. The individual whose name appears on the submission form will be advised of the judges’ decision regarding both the winners and finalists, and should contact the finalists directly, in January 2022. The publisher is encouraged to promote the finalists and winning titles through all appropriate media. If the author of the work is not living, the award is given to the estate of the author.

11. PUBLISHERS/AUTHORS. The submitting party (or a designated representative) of a winning book is responsible for arranging the winning author’s attendance at the awards ceremony to be held in March 2022. Each winning publisher (or author if the submission was made by the author) must agree to contribute $550 to help defray JBC’s promotions and for the celebratory event This payment also entitles the publisher to electronic copies of the National Jewish Book Award seals, which may be printed on the winning book, and two tickets, for the author and a guest, for the ceremony. If there is a coauthor or illustrator, that person becomes the guest of the author. Additional tickets may be purchased.

Definition of Award Categories

AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES Celebrate 350
 A nonfiction book about the Jewish experience in North America.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR The Krauss Family Award In Memory of Simon & Shulamith (Sofi) Goldberg An autobiography, personal memoir, or family history. The subject need not be a Jewish person or family but must have significant relevance to the Jewish experience.

BIOGRAPHY: In Memory of Sara Berenson Stone This award is for a biography that has significant relevance to the Jewish experience.  

BOOK CLUB AWARD The Miller Family Award in Memory of Helen Dunn Weinstein and June Keit Miller​ The Book Club Award recognizes an outstanding work of fiction or nonfiction that inspires meaningful conversation about Jewish life, identity, practice, or history. The Award recognizes the power of books to inspire Jewish community and thought-provoking discussions. 

CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK  An illustrated story or nonfiction book designed to be read aloud to children ages 3 to 8 years old or a board book intended for children 0-3  years old. This category should also include early readers and chapter books if they are intended for readers in the same age-range. The award will be shared by the author and illustrator.

CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LIFE & PRACTICE Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award A nonfiction book that explores contemporary Jewish life. These include, but are not limited to, current tools and resources for Jewish living, holiday how-to books, and life-cycle books (including b’nai mitzvot, weddings, mourning and loss, and brit mela and naming ceremonies). 

DEBUT FICTION Goldberg Prize An author’s first published novel, novella, or short-story collection.

EDUCATION & JEWISH IDENTITY In Memory of Dorothy Kripke A nonfiction work that focuses on theory, history, and/or practice of Jewish education and/or identity. Textbooks are not eligible.

FICTION JJ Greenberg Memorial Award A novel or short-story collection of exemplary literary merit, with Jewish content.

FOOD WRITING & COOKBOOKS  Jane and Stuart Weitzman Family Award A cookbook or work of food writing—including, but not limited to, memoir and history—that explores Jewish identity, history, and culture through a culinary lens.

HISTORY Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award
 A nonfiction work about the Jewish historical experience. 

HOLOCAUST in Memory of Ernest W. Michel A nonfiction book concerning the Holocaust including autobiographies, memoirs, and academic studies.

MENTORSHIP AWARD  This new award seeks to recognize individuals employed in traditional publishing or working independently as editors, agents, publicists, publishers, literary critics and have exhibited substantial engagement with Jewish authors. The goal of this award is to recognize those who nurture and mentor Jewish authors through the many steps toward publications and beyond.

MIDDLE GRADE LITERATURE   A book on a Jewish theme for ages 8-12.

MODERN JEWISH THOUGHT & EXPERIENCE  Dorot Foundation Award in Memory of Joy Ungerleider Mayerson A nonfiction work addressing Jewish thought and experience.

POETRY Berru Award in Memory of Ruth and Bernie Weinflash A book of verse consisting primarily of poems of Jewish concern.

SCHOLARSHIP Nahum Sarna Memorial Award
 A nonfiction selection that makes an original contribution to Jewish learning. This includes, but is not limited to, works on Bible, Rabbinics, and Jewish Law.

SEPHARDIC CULTURE Mimi S. Frank Award in memory of Becky Levy A nonfiction book that explores the traditions and practices unique to Sephardic Jews.

*VISUAL ARTS A work of one or more visual artists (painters, weavers, sculptors, photographers, etc.) that includes illustrations and images of Jewish content as a dominant component.

WOMEN’S STUDIES Barbara Dobkin Award
 A nonfiction book exploring the experiences of Jewish women.

WRITING BASED ON ARCHIVAL MATERIAL The JDC-Herbert Katzki Award A book of modern historical writing published in English based on archival material, including footnotes and bibliography.

YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE*: A book on a Jewish theme for ages 12—18.

* indicates occasional award not presented annually

Click here to submit a book to the 2021 National Jewish Book Awards!