London’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas

Chaim Bermant Prize

Maureen Lipman and Marc Weitzmann

Chaim Bermant Prize for Journalism

The Jewish Book Council is delighted to be associated with the Chaim Bermant Prize for Journalism, which was re-launched this year for Jewish Book Week 2015. The prize is presented in memory of the late author and journalist, who was a leading light on the JC for 40 years until his death in 1998. Humane, witty and wise, he managed at once to be “Anglo-Jewry’s voice of conscience”, in the words of former Chief Rabbi, the late Lord Jacobovits and, in his own typically tongue-in-cheek designation, “a licensed heretic”.  Chaim Bermant wrote features and reviews for the nation’s most prestigious broadsheets and periodicals as well as over 30 books of history, fiction, satire and memoirs. The award, which commemorates his exceptional career in journalism, was first presented at Jewish book Week in 2008, in association with the Bermant family and the JC.

2015 Prize

Jewish Book Week and the Bermant family are delighted to announce that Marc Weitzmann is this year’s winner of The Chaim Bermant Prize. The judges were Miriam Gross (former Women's Editor of the Observer and Literary Editor of the Sunday Telegraph 1991-2005), Gerald Jacobs (Literary Editor and former Assistant and Comment Editor of the JC) and Geoffrey Paul (Journalist and Editor of the JC 1977-1990).

In a summer when most world coverage of Jewry, and of antipathy between Jews and Arabs, was understandably focused on the war in the Middle East, Tablet published “France’s Toxic Hate,” a five-part editorial package by the brilliant French journalist Weitzmann on the rising plague of antisemitism in France.  Weitzmann's series is both coolly factual and heart-rendingly emotional. Although the judges made their decision before the horrific events in Paris at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher, they already felt that Weitzmann's Tablet articles were a brave, singularly prescient, in-depth examination of French antisemitism.

Report of JBW Event

Maureen Lipman introduced the event by saying a few words about Chaim Bermant and reading out one of his most pithy and perceptive pieces. Gerald Jacobs outlined the judging process, emphasising the exceptional quality and scope of the many articles submitted for consideration, adducing the work of journalists from the UK, Europe and beyond, and announcing that the winner was Marc Weitzmann. Maureen Lipman presented him with the award. Finally, journalist Natasha Lehrer conducted a short but compelling Marc Weitzmann interview about the challenges confronting French Jewry in the context of France's widespread inter-racial tensions.

Past Prizes

The 2011 prize was won by Geoffrey Alderman and the judges were Stephen Pollard, Daniel Finkelstein and David Horowitz.

The 2008 prize was won Daniel Finkelstein and the judges were David Rowan, Jonathan Freedland and Johnny Geller.

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Highlights from the 2015 festival are now online.