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Jewish Book Awards Have Two Local Ties

January 19, 2012 By:
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Rabbi David Teutsch, a local author, was among the 2011 National Jewish Book Award winners.

Teutsch, who lives in Mount Airy and is the former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, received the Myra H. Kraft Award in the category of Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice.

His book, A Guide to Jewish Practice: Everyday Living, was published by RRC Press and constitutes a liberal Jewish guide to daily religious practice, kashrut and tzedakah, as well as business, family and sexual ethics.

"This is a book that is aimed at everyone who is not halachically observant -- and that is about 95 percent of the American Jewish community," Teutsch said, adding that he hopes the recognition will increase the book's visibility and inspire more Jews to consult its pages.

Teutsch, who still directs the Center for Jewish Ethics at RRC, began work on the project a decade ago. He's editing two more volumes in the series; one will focus on Shabbat and holidays and the other will focus on life cycle events.

"The vast majority of us want to live lives that are ethically and spiritually satisfying," said the rabbi. "This is meant to provide the vocabulary, concepts, values and ideas that can create helpful discourse."

Every year, the Jewish Book Council recognizes works in a number of categories, including fiction, biography and scholarship. The awards were announced on Jan. 10 and the presentation ceremony is slated to be held on March 14 in Manhattan.

In another local connection, a book released by the Jewish Publication Society won the Barbara Dobkin Award in the area of Women's Studies. The JPS Bible Commentary: Ruthwas begun by feminist scholar Tikva Frymer-Kensky, who died in 2006. It was completed by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, a Bible scholar at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.

The two are listed as co-authors.

In September, JPS announced it was entering into a partnership with the University of Nebraska Press. As of Jan. 1, the university press assumed all production, distribution and marketing for all manuscripts bearing the JPS imprint.

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