The Ateret Zvi Prize in Hiddushei Torah, launching in 5778/2018, will be extended yearly by Mechon Hadar to recognize a work of innovative and exceptional Torah scholarship. The prize is endowed in loving memory of Professor and Rabbi Zvi H. Szubin, a lifelong scholar and teacher who uncovered rich insights buried in traditional texts using legal, historical, and linguistic tools—an approach he termed “text archaeology.” The competition aims to inspire scholarship and innovation in the study of Torah and is open to all.
Submissions must be 1800-4000 words and should be in the form of a d’var Torah, sermon, or a lesson that could be delivered to an engaged, communal audience. Content guidelines are as follows:
Submissions should take up a close analysis of a Biblical or classical rabbinic source. The focus can be a weekly Torah reading, a passage or theme in Tanakh, a piece of liturgy, a Talmudic sugya or a classical midrash. Texts should lie at the center of the presentation and they should be probed in detail. Prior interpretive traditions should be carefully considered and either explained in a new light or contrasted with an original alternative offered by the author.
Presentations should be framed for an intellectually engaged and religiously-oriented audience. Academic approaches and methods are encouraged to the extent they enhance understanding of the texts under consideration, and Professor Szubin was fond of drawing on lessons from art, comparative religion, archaeology, literature and linguistics. Ultimately, though, submissions should deliver religious insight to those reading and listening. In other words, a successful submission will not only address a textual problem with rigor but also offer thought-provoking implications for Jewish learning, thought and/or practice. Such implications should be made explicit, showing how we might apply the submission’s insights to the study of Tanakh, halakhah and Jewish practice, hashkafah and theology, liturgy or other Jewish fields.
All submissions must be original, never having been shared in print or in digital media—including social media posts—in the past. If you have any questions as to what qualifies, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All submissions should be submitted to email@example.com, in Microsoft Word format, by June 30th, 2018. Final decisions will be made by mid-September.
Submissions will be judged by a special committee of scholars assembled by Mechon Hadar. Judges will assess submissions based on the quality of the presentation, the strength of its scholarship and the power of its religious insight. The winner of the Ateret Zvi prize will receive $5,000 and be expected to attend a special event held in honor of the winning submission, which will be shared with a live audience in November 2018. Full-time staff and faculty of Mechon Hadar, judges and their immediate family members are ineligible to submit.
The winning dvar Torah will be published by Mechon Hadar and the winner will be invited to teach the dvar torah in a public forum. Other exceptional entries may be published as well; Mechon Hadar reserves the right to share all submissions publicly once having notified the authors.
The Ateret Zvi Prize is sponsored by the family of Rabbi and Professor Zvi H. Szubin. Professor Szubin was a path-breaking thinker on a broad range of subjects, and authored numerous articles and works on subjects from agunah and mishpat ivri to the role of legal terminology in Jewish liturgy. His scholarly work focused on retrieving lost meanings and connotations of Hebrew and Aramaic terms through a careful study of ancient legal documents, and then refracting these new insights onto well-known texts to yield unexpected results. Professor Szubin was a supporter of Mechon Hadar, in particular its fierce commitment to traditional Jewish values and texts, its unabashed egalitarianism, and its promising efforts to energize thoughtful Jews of all ages.