Israeli Author David Grossman Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Israeli author David Grossman was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at the Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) on November 19, 2015.

Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., HUC-JIR President, and Rabbi Michael Marmur, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost at HUC-JIR, presented the honorary citation, which stated:

“David Grossman, prominent Hebrew writer of our time, Who through his extensive literary work has a great influence on Israeli culture; the recipients of his works are adults, adolescents and children, Whose books have been translated into forty languages, bringing the Hebrew and Jewish culture to the world, His works derive from our ancient sources and at the same time beautifully describe the contemporary Israeli experience, Whose literary enterprise combines engaging search of the human spirit and the challenges facing Israeli society, A mentor to many by his inspirational involvement in social and political issues and by his honesty, courage and perseverance, Who practices the commandment  ‘And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.’ (Deuteronomy 10:19) And does not cease from seeking peace and to fighting for it”

Leading Israeli novelist David Grossman (b. 1954, Jerusalem) studied philosophy and drama at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and later worked as an editor and broadcaster at Israel Radio. Grossman has written seven novels, a play, a number of short stories and novellas, and a number of books for children and youth. He has also published several books of non-fiction, including interviews with Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

In August 2006, the Israeli novelist David Grossman's son, Uri, was killed in southern Lebanon, his tank hit by a rocket. The news came when Grossman was three years into his extraordinary novel To the End of the Land, about Ora, a woman who deploys frantic magical thinking to try and keep her son alive. Ora decides that if she goes for a long walk in Galilee with her son's father, if she is not present to hear "notifiers" tell her of his death, she will prevent it. The superstition is a painful acknowledgement of how out of control an ordinary Israeli might feel. And, Grossman admits, in his afterword, that the writing initially served, for him, a superstitious purpose equivalent to Ora's walk. After his son's death, he rewrote the novel and grief (though never formally introduced) informs every line. In 2007, his novels The Book of Internal Grammar and See Under: Love were named among the ten most important books since the creation of the State of Israel. His books have been translated into over 25 languages. 

Among Grossman's many literary awards: the Valumbrosa Prize (Italy), the Eliette von Karajan Prize (Austria), the Nelly Sachs Prize (1991), the Premio Grinzane and the Premio Mondelo for The Zig-Zag Kid (Italy, 1996), the Vittorio de Sica Prize (Italy), the Juliet Club Prize, the Marsh Award for Children`s Literature in Translation (UK, 1998), the Buxtehude Bulle (Germany, 2001), the Sapir Prize for Someone to Run With (2001), the Bialik Prize (2004), the Koret Jewish Book Award (USA, 2006), the Premio per la Pace e l`Azione Umanitaria 2006 (City of Rome/Italy), Onorificenza della Stella Solidarita Italiana 2007, Premio Ischia - International Award for Journalism 2007, the Geschwister Scholl Prize (Germany), the Emet Prize (Israel, 2007)and the Albatross Prize (Germany, 2009). He has also been awarded the Chevalier de l`Ordre des Arts et Belles Lettres (France, 1998) and an Honorary Doctorate by Florence University (2008). 


Established in 1963 as a post-doctoral center of archaeological and biblical studies, the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion has grown since 1971 to serve as the center of HUC-JIR’s Israel experience for stateside students, including theYear-In-Israel Program, and prepares Israeli students for leadership in the Israel Rabbinical Program, M.A. Program in Pluralistic Jewish Education with the Melton Centre of Hebrew University, and the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling’s Mezorim Program.  Scholars and students from around the world are enriched by the excavations and publications of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, and the resources of the Abramov Library and Skirball Museum.  The Murstein Synagogue welcomes the community for services and holidays.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.