Peter Waldor of Short Hills has won the National Jewish Book Award in poetry for Who Touches Everything, published by Settlement House. The work was selected by a panel of three judges as “the best written, most comprehensive and engaging book in its category,” according to a Jan. 10 letter written to Waldor from the National Jewish Book Council, which sponsors the award.
“After the Jewish Book Council assured me that they hadn’t made a mistake and I had indeed won, I felt proud to be able to bring home the (kosher) bacon to Greater Metro West,” Waldor wrote in an email to NJJN. “Perhaps, because of the award, someone besides my mother will now buy the book.”
Waldor was born in Newark and raised in South Orange. The son of Rita and the late Jerry Waldor, major benefactors of the Greater MetroWest Jewish community, the poet earned a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He works in the insurance field while continuing to write poetry.
Poems in Who Touches Everything celebrate the lives of infants and children as well as emotions surrounding fatherhood.
Suggesting that children and parenthood are “not the usual subjects for a book of poetry,” Waldor added, “I am glad there is a space in the world for this kind of poetry.”
Author Yossi Klein Halevi took the the top prize, the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award, for Like Dreamers, which tells the history of Israel through the personal experiences of a handful of paratroopers who helped capture the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. Other winners include, in the category of modern Jewish thought, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Israel, for The Koren Pesach Machzor, and, in the history category, Israeli journalist Ari Shavit for My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.
A full list of the award winners and runners-up can be found at the Jewish Book Council website, jewishbookcouncil.org.
The prizes carry honoraria and will be awarded at the 63rd annual National Jewish Book Awards dinner on March 5 at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.