Two BIU academicians recently received prestigious prizes. Prof. Yossi Katz, an expert in historical geography, was awarded Israel’s highest accolade; and Jewish History Prof. Adam Ferziger won the 2015 National Jewish Book Award.
Israel Prize Winner
Prof. Yossi Katz of BIU’s Department of Geography and Environment, and Chair for the Study of the History and Activities of the Jewish National Fund, was awarded this year’s Israel Prize in Geography, Archaeology and Land of Israel Studies. The prize committee noted that Katz is an internationally renowned expert in historical geography, and his research has direct and significant implications for national ownership of land in the State of Israel and for the assets of Holocaust victims. “The importance of his research does not apply only to the ivory tower of the academic sphere but also to the practical sphere,” wrote the committee.
“What motivated my work was the sense that we must profoundly rediscover the Zionist enterprise and the settlement of the land of Israel,” says Katz. “Historical depth provides a perspective for understanding the present.”
National Jewish Book Award
Prof. Adam Ferziger, of the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, is winner of the 2015 National Jewish Book Award in the American Jewish Studies category.
In Beyond Sectarianism: The Realignment of American Orthodox Judaism (Wayne State University Press), Ferziger traces a narrowing of the gap between the different streams of “committed Orthodox”, as first put forth a half century ago by the late BIU social scientist Charles S. Liebman, and an ultimate realignment of American Orthodox Judaism. Recent studies, including the 2013 Pew Survey of US Jewry, demonstrate that an active and strongly connected American Orthodox Jewish population is poised to grow in the coming decades. Ferziger’s book offers a reappraisal of this group from a historic, sociological and religious perspective.
“The overall picture is one of a more cohesive American Orthodoxy that defies the divisions of the past,” sums up Ferziger.