We are pleased to announce that Who Will Lead Us?: The Story of Five Hasidic Dynasties in America by Samuel C. Heilman and Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging by Naomi Leite were both selected as finalists for the 2017 National Jewish Book Award, awarded by the Jewish Book Council.

Dating back to 1925, the Jewish Book Council is one of the oldest organizations providing continual service to the American Jewish community. Additionally, the National Jewish Book Awards, which began in 1950, is the longest running awards program of its kind in the field of Jewish literature and is recognized as the most prestigious, giving recognition to outstanding books.

Who Will Lead Us?finalist for the award in American Jewish Studies, is the fascinating story of five contemporary Hasidic dynasties and their handling of the delicate issue of leadership and succession. In their review, the Jewish Book Council says:

“Diagnosing how modernity has forever changed Hasidism, and following the twisting narratives of its unique cast of characters is what makes these succession narratives so interesting. . . . Who Will Lead Us? is an academic study but an accessible read. Anyone interested in Jewish history mixed with a bit of palace intrigue will enjoy this book.”

Read the full review here.


Unorthodox Kin, finalist for the Modern Jewish Thought and Experience award, is a groundbreaking exploration ofidentity, relatedness, and belonging in a global era. In urban Portugal today, hundreds of individuals trace their ancestry to 15th century Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism, and many now seek to rejoin the Jewish people as a whole. The Jewish Book Council says:

“This acclaimed book will appeal to a wide audience interested in anthropology, sociology, and religious studies. Its accessible, narrative-driven style makes it especially well-suited for introductory and advanced courses in general cultural anthropology, ethnography, theories of identity and social categorization, and the study of globalization, kinship, tourism, and religion.”

Read the full review here and learn more about the awards and the full results here. Many congratulations to Samuel and Naomi and the rest of this year’s NJBA finalists and winners!