This Week in JPL History: The J.I. Segal Awards are born

Oscar Shmoscar, Tony Baloney, Nobel So-bel, – the J.I. Segal Awards are where it’s really at. Established in honour of celebrated Yiddish poet J.I. Segal, these awards don’t concentrate on one theme alone, they celebrate so many aspects of Jewish culture. Current prizes award excellence in literature, film, and education. Past awards have honoured art and drama.

What is truly impressive about these Awards isn’t just their scope; it is that they are driven by the community. Jury members and the funding for the Awards themselves come from the community.

It was on December 6th, 1967 that the J.I. Segal Fund was officially established through the efforts of Dora and Hirsch Rosenfeld as well as a remarkable group of Yiddish cultural activists within the community.  The Rosenfelds themselves were heavily involved in the Library and considered pillars of the Montreal Jewish community as a whole. The J.I. Segal Prize for Yiddish and Hebrew Literature is named in their honour. Similarly, many of the other prizes remember the contributions and legacies of other key figures in the community, as well as partnering institutions, and supporters of the JPL like:

The Mona Elaine Adilman English Fiction and Poetry Award on a Jewish Theme, Mona Elaine Adilman was a poet and ecologist in Montreal.

The Shulamis Yelin French Literature Award on a Jewish Theme, Shulamis Yelin was a Montreal teacher and writer long involved in the Library and was a Judge for the J.I. Segal Awards.

The David and Rosa Finestone Canadian Jewish Studies Award, Rosa Finestone who has been a longtime supporter of the Awards and named this award in honour of her late husband.

The Azrieli Institute Award for Best Book in Israel Studies in English or French, this award was established by the Azrieli Institute of Concordia University

The Michael Moskovitz Award for a Film on a Jewish Theme Michael Moskovtiz, who died at the age of 48, lived in Cleveland, Ohio and was known for his friendliness and generosity. He owned a Video Store and had a lifetime interest in music and the cinema.

The Yaacov Zipper Award in Education, Yaacov Zipper was a long term educator in Montreal, serving as principal of the Jewish Peretz School from 1928-1971.

Other awards which are given out include the Award for English Non-Fiction, and the Translation Award. You can listen to the first ever J.I. Segal Awards by visiting the Yiddish Book Center’s website.

Remember it’s never too early to mark your calendars! This coming year will mark the 43rd J.I. Segal Awards. The Awards Gala event will be on November 14th, 2014 and is free to all attendees. Submissions to the Awards will be accepted starting late February 2014.

The This Week in Jewish Public Library History blog series was made possible through the generous support of the Peter and Ellen Jacobs Virtual Archives  Fund.

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