Steven Weitzman of Penn’s Katz Center Receives a 2017 National Jewish Book Award

Steven Weitzman of the University of Pennsylvania has won a 2017 National Jewish Book Award for his book The Origin of the Jews: The Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age.

Weitzman, the author of several books that focus on the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Jewish culture, is the Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures in the School of Arts and Sciences and also the Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at Penn.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The book awards, in 20​​​​​​​ categories, are selected by the New York City-based Jewish Book Council board of directors. Weitzman’s book was the winner in the category of Jewish Education and Identity.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​“I wanted the book to tell the story of a scholarly quest in a way that was helpful to readers beyond academia while staying true to the complexity of the issues involved,” Weitzman said. “I would be delighted if the book helps readers, Jewish or non-Jewish, think about their origins and their identity in a deeper way.”

In the book, Weitzman examines the question of where the Jews came from and the development of their culture and religion. Spanning more than two centuries, his research traces the history of the many approaches applied to the question, including genealogy, linguistics, archaeology, psychology, sociology and genetics.

“There are countless scholarly theories that purport to explain the origin of the Jews, but no one previously has brought these theories together to weigh their pros and cons,” he said.

The Jewish Book Award winners will be honored on March 6 at a dinner and ceremony in New York City.

Weitzman, Steven Katz Center