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Within hours following the 51st AnnualNational Jewish Book Awards ceremony on March 29, 2001, where Cyrus Gordon'sbook, A Scholar's Odyssey, received the 2000 award forautobiography/memoir, the sad news of Gordon's death was announced. The themeof the evening could not have been more appropriate. It focused on theimportance of reflecting on life's journey. In fact, the program note on AScholar's Odyssey said,

Born in Philadelphia in 1908, Gordon grew up in a Jewish home where erudition and inquiry were highly valued. Hebraic and Judaic studies were a vital part of his education. It is from this background that he set sail on his scholarly journey. ...Readers of Professor Gordon's fascinating life story not only travel with him to enchanted lands and meet luminaries in the field, they are lured to learn, to seek, to inquire.

The many students who were influenced by Gordon (nearly 100 doctoral dissertations were done under him) will continue to embodythe lure toward better understanding the texts and artifacts of antiquity andtheir importance for another time and place. The SBL, honored by this SandraBrand and Arik Weintraub Award as the publisher of Gordon's book, express ourcondolences to Connie Gordon and all of their family.

In addition to the book awards Elie Wiesel wasgiven the Distinguished Literary Legacy Award. In Wiesel's response, he spokeof the fact that his early memoir, Night, was refused publication by thevery publisher who has published his most recent two volume collection ofmemoirs. He noted that while his favorite prophetic book was Isaiah, he isfrequently referred to as a "kind of Jeremiah." Despite thisappellation he spoke of the importance of writing and the fact that he is always"hounded by the words of Camus near the end of The Plague when hesays there is more in human beings to celebrate than to denigrate."Certainly when one reflects on the life journeys of people such as Wiesel andGordon, the reminder of celebration seems all the more poignant.

Other books receiving awards included,

The Human Stain by Philip Roth, published by Houghton Mifflin

Jew Vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry by Samuel G. Freedman, published by Simon & Schuster

Hitler's Austria by Evan Burr Burkey, published by University of North Carolina Press

Under His Very Windows, by Susan Zuccotti, published by Yale University Press

Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel by Susan Martha Kahn, published by Duke University Press

The Moscow State Yiddish Theater by Jeffrey Veidlinger, published by Indiana University Press

The Modern Jewish Canon by Ruth R. Wisse, published by The Free Press

Synagogues Without Jews by Rivka and Ben-Zion Dorfman.

Citation: , " 51st Annual National Jewish Book Awards," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited April 2004]. Online:http://sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleID=33

 
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