Editor’s Wrapup: Eyes on the Prize
In 1983, the editors of Hadassah Magazine were striving to make this publication a paragon of serious journalism. The word “serious” meant that everything had to be real. There was little room for fiction.
We were in step with the times. Few Jewish publications devoted space to reviewing books (fiction or otherwise) and fewer and fewer feature magazines were running short stories.
But we decided on a slightly different path. In 1982, the family of Harold U. Ribalow was looking for someone to administer a prize in Jewish fiction in memory of the late writer, editor and tireless promoter of Jewish literary talent. They chose to place their endowment with Hadassah Magazine, and in July 1983, we awarded the first Ribalow Prize to Chaim Grade for Rabbis and Wives. Ever since, this magazine has held on to an old journalistic view‹that good fiction is an aspect of truth.
This year we observe the 25th anniversary of the Ribalow Prize. Among the recipients are illustrious literary names: Francine Prose, Louis Begley, Anne Roiphe, Jonathan Safran Foer and Max Apple.
To mark the anniversary, this issue features an article on the effects of winning the prize by 2005 recipient Jenna Blum (page 76) and an essay by Elizabeth Rosner (page 54), who received the prize in 2002. Blum and Rosner will join 2004 recipient Joseph Epstein at Hadassah¹s national convention in Los Angeles on July 13 for a special Ribalow Prize forum.
Back in 1983, we had a chance to shut the door on fiction and chose not to.
Every month, Hadassah Magazine reviews more books than any other general interest Jewish publication, and we still run short stories several times a year. I think I can say without risk of contradiction that everyone who has worked on either the Ribalow Prize or our book section these past 25 years has had fun. And no one has ever accused us of not being serious.