Sarah Abrevaya Stein, UCLA professor of history and the Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies, is the winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Sephardic culture. The Mimi S. Frank Award in Memory of Becky Levy is given to the winner of this category by the Jewish Book Council, which announced winners in more than 18 categories on Jan. 11.
In her award-winning book, “Extraterritorial Dreams: European Citizenship, Sephardi Jews, and the Ottoman Twentieth Century” (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Stein traces the experiences of Mediterranean Jewish women, men and families who lived through a tumultuous series of wars, border changes, genocides, and mass migrations, all in the shadow of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the ascendance of the modern passport regime.
Moving across vast stretches of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas, she tells the intimate stories of people struggling to find a legal place in a world ever more divided by political boundaries and competing nationalist sentiments.
From a poor youth who reached France as a stowaway only to be hunted by the Parisian police as a spy to a wealthy Baghdadi-born man in Shanghai who willed his fortune to his Eurasian Buddhist wife, Stein’s stories illuminate the intertwined nature of minority histories and global politics through the turbulence of the modern era.
The winners of the 2016 National Jewish Book Awards will be honored on March 7 at a gala awards dinner and ceremony to be held at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.