Academic Awards

Awards and Fellowships

The American Jewish Historical Society encourages interested students and scholars to apply for the following prizes and fellowships. The AJHS Academic Council is responsible for all selections.

Ruth B. Fein Prize

The American Jewish Historical Society awards the Ruth B. Fein Prize, a travel stipend established in honor of a past president of the Society, to a graduate student to help undertake research at the American Jewish Historical Society. 

The 2019 prize was awarded to Amy Fedeski for her project, “Quiet Activism: The American Jewish NGO Reaction to the 1953 Doctors’ Plot.” 

2020 Update: Due to the evolving circumstances, and the terms of this fellowship necessitating the awardee undertake research at The American Jewish Historical Society, it has been decided to postpone this fellowship until the Center for Jewish History's reading room is once again accessible to researchers. 

The Sid and Ruth Lapidus Fellowship

The Sid and Ruth Lapidus Fellowship supports one or more researcher(s) wishing to use the collections of the American Jewish Historical Society. Preference is given to researchers interested in 17th and 18th century American Jewish history. At the discretion of the awards committee, the fellowship funds may also be applied to subsidizing publication of a first book in the field of American Jewish history, again with preference given to works in early American Jewish history. 

The 2019 Fellowship was awarded to three scholars.

  • Dr. Melissa Klapper, for her project “At Home in the World: American Jewish Women Abroad, 1865-1940.”
  • Laura Michel for her project, “Benevolent Republicans: Philanthropy, Identity, and Foreign Relations in the Early United States.”
  • Connor Kenaston for his project, “Broadcasting the Gospel of Tolerance: Liberal Religion, Media, and Capitalism in Twentieth-Century America.” 

2020 Update: Due to the evolving circumstances, and the nature of these fellowships, it has been decided to postpone this fellowship until the Center for Jewish History's reading room is once again accessible to researchers. 

Pokross/Curhan Family Fund Prize

The American Jewish Historical Society awards the Pokross/Curhan Family Fund Prize, a grant established in honor of two past presidents, David R. Pokross (1976-1979) and Ronald C. Curhan (1990-1993), to an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing an academic degree at an accredited academic institution to help undertake research using the collections held at

American Jewish Historical Society
New England Archives
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116.

The award is $1,000. The deadline for submission is coming soon.

To apply, please send a 2-page description of your plan to produce an essay, thesis, dissertation, documentary, exhibition or other form of public program on an aspect of the American Jewish experience; and a letter of support from an undergraduate or graduate mentor to (Please Note: AJHS in New York is not associated with this prize.)

Saul Viener Book Prize

AJHS is now accepting entries for the 2021 Saul Viener Book Prize.  Books published in 2019 and 2020 are eligible. To be considered please send three copies of your book postmarked by March 1st, 2021 to: AJHS, Attn: Saul Viener Book Entry, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011.

Criteria: Only books that focus on the history and experience of Jews in the Americas are considered.  In order to be considered, books have to be original work in English and not anthologies or other edited works. Books that were substantially supported by or are projects of the AJHS are not eligible for consideration.

A prise of $1,000 will be awarded to the winner.

The 2019 Saul Viener Book Prize was awarded to A Rosenberg By Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America, by Kirsten Fermaglich.

2019 Honorable Mentions were awarded to: 

  • Making Judaism Safe for America: World War I and the Origins of Religious Pluralism, By Jessica Cooperman
  • Cotton Capitalists: American Jewish Entrepreneurship in The Reconstructionist Era, By Michael Cohen

Wasserman Essay Prize

The Wasserman Essay Prize is awarded the best article published in a volume (4 issues) of the journal American Jewish History

Lee Max Friedman Award Medal

The Lee Max Friedman Award Medal was established in memory of a past Society president and is awarded by the American Jewish Historical Society to any individual, group or association deemed to have rendered distinguished service in the field of American Jewish history. Distinguished service includes special achievements in research, scientific or popular writing, teaching, encouragement and/or support of specific historical projects, or in the field of mass communication.  The Friedman Medal is awarded biennially. In 2020 The Friedman Medal was awarded to Riv Ellen Prell