American Interests

WJC Ronald S. Lauder presents Israeli Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked with American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs
15 November 2021. (c) Shahar Azran / WJC

Bd”H – Father of ‘Lone Soldiers’

Times of Israel

Zvika Levy, Israel Prize-winning ‘father of lone soldiers,’ dies aged 70

Zvika (Zvi) Levy, an Israel Prize-winning social activist known as “the father of lone soldiers” in Israel, passed away on Saturday at age 70 after years of suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a muscular disease.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin with Zvi Levy, recipient of an Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, at the International Conference Center (ICC) in Jerusalem on May 2, 2017. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Levy founded the Lone Soldiers organization in 1997, which supports some 3,500 young people annually who leave their families, usually abroad, to volunteer for Israeli army service. The organization also serves more than 1,500 Israeli soldiers who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or are estranged from their parents.

After a long career in the paratroopers unit, he has looked after lone soldiers from more than 40 countries, with most coming from the former Soviet Union, the US, Europe, Ethiopia, and South America.

In the ceremony for the Israel Prize in 2017, Levy accepted his award from a wheelchair, to a standing ovation.

Continue reading “Bd”H – Father of ‘Lone Soldiers’”

Kaytek the Wizard – Recognition Award

Kaytek the Wizard

Kaytek the Wizard (written by Janusz Korczak in 1933 and translated into English by Antonia-Lloyd Jones) first premiered as a puppet play in 2016 (BriAnimations Living Entertainment).  This production has been performed across the U.S., from Tennessee to Maine to California, at festivals, schools and performing arts centers.

Image by Erika Chambers

At the August 2018 International Korczak Conference in Seattle, Washington, the production won a recognition award for introducing audiences to this man who is often referred to as “The King of Children”.



A short preview of the puppet play can be seen here.

After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring Won!

NJBA winnerUrim Publications is honored to announce that After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring is the winner of the 2015 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Biography / Autobiography.

After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring
by Joseph Polak
Foreword by Elie Wiesel
Hardcover, 141 pages

AftertheHolocustWeb1“Another book on the Holocaust? Yes and no; this book is about a different Holocaust—the one that survivors of concentration camps endured after April 1945. That is when survivors began to experience the horrific and persistent memories of what they had lived through, according to Joseph Polak, who entered the camps when he was just a toddler.”
-Eleanor Ehrenkranz, Jewish Book Council

“As one of the last witnesses to the Shoah, certainly one of the youngest, Joseph Polak has written a memoir that is an essential contribution to the body of Holocaust literature….This is a must read for anyone not afraid of grappling with the unfathomable.”
–Blu Greenberg
“Joseph Polak has written a memoir that begins where Anne Frank’s diary leaves off…. We don’t have many books like this one, books that tell what Hell was like for children who were too innocent to understand where they were, and too young to remember it clearly afterwards. So read this book and absorb what it has to say. And take some comfort from the fact that its author grew up to be a teacher of Torah and a counselor of young people on campus, hard as that is to comprehend.”
-Jack Reimer, South Florida Jewish Journal

“The story is so fantastic that, as Polak himself says, it goes against what we know of the Holocaust and the concentration camps. Every page teaches the reader something new, in language that is fresh and original.”
-Alan Rosen, PhD

“It is haunting and melancholic, unforgettable and poignant. Polak is a wonderful writer, proffering a terrifying truth while speculating about the wisdom of the Torah and the apparent absence of God.”
-Charles Weinblatt, NY Journal of Books

Finalists in the 2014 National Book Awards

Congratulations to The Soul of Jewish Social Justice and On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and His Neighbor and Man and His Maker, both finalists in the 2014 National Jewish Book Awards.


The Soul of Jewish Social Justice by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz  is a finalist for Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice.

On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and His Neighbor and Man and His Maker by Daniel Sperber is a finalist for Modern Jewish Thought and Experience: the Dorot Foundation Award in Memory of Joy Ungerleider Mayerson.

You can read more about the Awards and other finalists here.


Kaddish wins Skipping Stones Award

by Evlyn GouldKaddish: Womens Voices

Kaddish, Women’s Voices pulls at the heart strings. At times painful, at times funny, and always spiritually rich, it presents the views of many Jewish women on this essential Jewish practice for honoring the passing of our loved ones. Traditionally, the Kaddish Yatom, the Kaddish said for the dead, is read at every Jewish service in which there is a “minyan” or prayer assembly of at least ten men. Following the death of parents, we are commanded to say the Kaddish for a full year as we believe it encourages the soul to rise higher and higher on its heavenly course. It says nothing about death, but praises the source of all life. The traditional teaching requires us to say Kaddish for our parents, for whom the longest period to recite the Kaddish is prescribed. This assumes that because parents have had a decisive role in shaping our lives, we must mourn for a full year. For children, however, we are required to recite the Kaddish for only one month.Of course, there are other rituals for honoring the dead that mark the first week, the first month, the first year,and then the memory of our loved one each passing year at the time of “Yahrzeit” or yearly commemoration of the passing as it is marked on the Jewish calendar. More liberal Jews have added the practice of reciting the Kaddish for the deaths of others and to honor those lost in the Holocaust who have no one to say Kaddish for them.

While in Orthodox Jewish practice, women are “relieved” of this commandment or “mitzvah” (good deed), as they are not burdened by any time-bound “mitzvoth,” Kaddish, Women’s Voices presents what we might call the “other side” of the performance of this “mitzvah.” By other side, I mean at least two different things. First, we recite the Kaddish not only to honor the dead, but to help ourselves heal from the loss. We ritualize our response to death and we do so in community. Among Conservative, Reform, Renewal or Reconstructionist Jews, a community of ten may be made up of women and/or of men, and Kaddish is recited by all concerned regardless of gender. In these congregations, women do perform time-bound holy deeds. Second, as this book shows us so eloquently, women benefit tremendously from being able to participate in this age-old practice. In this book, we meet many women from all branches of Judaism talking about the meaningfulness of this prayer. We read their testimonials and witness the power of this prayer in their lives, in their mourning, and in the healing of the wounds of their losses. Some women speak of parents, some of children. All of them reach deeply into their own hearts and ours.  Continue reading Kaddish wins Skipping Stones Award”

Kaytek the Wizard Receives Honorable Mention in the 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy in Translation Award!

Kaytek the WizardKaytek the Wizard (written by Janusz Korczak, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Avi Katz) received a Long Form Honorable Mention in the 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy in Translation Award!

Reviews from the award website:

Alexis Brooks de Vita found Kaytek the Wizard “sublimely poignant, as painful as it is raw, so obviously written by a man who loves childhood and children and uses fantasy to prepare them—and us—for fatality as well as mortality. Huckleberry Finn more than Tom Sawyer, reaching across a century-and-a-half to conjure Harry Potter, Kaytek’s loner protagonist finally becomes not only Frankenstein but his self-created monster, a childish Melmoth the Wanderer, made wise enough to have become capable of conveying the author’s historically heartbreaking final lines.”

Kathryn Morrow added, “This is a fresh, sophisticated, and psychologically authentic exemplar of the Bildungsroman type of fantasy. The author’s unique sensibility is well served by Lloyd-Jones’s lively translation.”