Congratulations to Maya Barzilai, Assistant Professor of Modern Hebrew and Jewish Culture at the University of Michigan, for receiving Honorable Mention in the Salo Wittmayer Baron Book Prize for her book Golem: Modern Wars and Their Monsters, published in October of last year.

The 2016 Baron Book Prize was awarded to Jessica M. Marglin for her book Across Legal Lines: Jews and Muslims in Modern Morocco, which was also published in October 2016. Marglin is currently Assistant Professor of Religion and the Ruth Ziegler Early Career Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of Southern California. The Baron Book Prize is awarded by the American Academy for Jewish Research every year to an author for an outstanding first book in Jewish studies.

Both of the awarded books were a part of the work the authors did while Frankel Institute Fellows during the 2012-13 academic year, in which the theme was Borders of Jewishness: Microhistories of Encounter.

Barzilai commented, “I am very grateful to receive an Honorable Mention for the 2016 Salo Baron Prize. Golem: Modern Wars and Their Monsters benefited immensely from my ongoing dialogue with colleagues at the Frankel Center and especially from the intellectually-stimulating year that I spent as a fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies. During that year, Jessica Marglin and I conceptualized our book projects and workshopped new chapters. The invaluable feedback I received from the other fellows made the book so much stronger, leading to its publication with NYU Press.”


Golem: Modern Wars and Their Monsters

(New York University Press)

In the 1910s and 1920s, a “golem cult” swept across Europe and the U.S., later surfacing in Israel. Why did this story of a powerful clay monster molded and animated by a rabbi to protect his community become so popular and pervasive? The golem has appeared in a remarkable range of popular media: from the Yiddish theater to American comic books, from German silent film to Quentin Tarantino movies. This book showcases how the golem was remolded, throughout the war-torn twentieth century, as a muscular protector, injured combatant, and even murderous avenger. This evolution of the golem narrative is made comprehensible by, and also helps us to better understand, one of the defining aspects of the last one hundred years: mass warfare and its ancillary technologies.


Across Legal Lines: Jews and Muslims in Modern Morocco

(Yale University Press)

Morocco went through immense upheaval in the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through the experiences of a single Jewish family, Jessica Marglin charts how the law helped Jews to integrate into Muslim society—until colonial reforms abruptly curtailed their legal mobility. Drawing on a broad range of archival documents, Marglin expands our understanding of contemporary relations between Jews and Muslims and changes the way we think about Jewish history, the Middle East, and the nature of legal pluralism.