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Schmidt, Kushner Book Honored
March 28, 2006

A book authored by Gary Schmidt and Rabbi Lawrence Kushner has been chosen as a runner up for a 2005 National Jewish Book Award.

In God's Hands (Skylight Paths Publishing 2005) is a picture book re-telling of a Jewish folk tale. It was honored in the Jewish Family Literature category of the awards, which are sponsored by the National Jewish Book Council.

"I'm really pleased that this book has been accepted by the Jewish community and has gotten good reviews," Schmidt says. "I think a large part of that is that Lawrence Kushner is so well respected in these communities and is such a good writer. It's an honor just to be linked up with him."

In God's Hands tells the story of Jacob, a rich man, and David, a man barely able to feed his family, and of both men's individual experiences of the same miracle: the miracle of the challah (bread) that keeps appearing and disappearing in a synagogue's holy ark.

Says Schmidt: "The miracle happens in a way that's unexpected. It's a miracle because these two are enacting God's will."

Schmidt originally read the story in one of Kushner's books and approached the author about re-fashioning the tale for another audience.

"I thought this could be powerfully written for kids," he says.

Kushner, the Emanu-El Scholar at San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El who numbered among his many writing credits two books for young readers, agreed.

The National Jewish Book Council commended In God's Hands as a book "that enlarges the whole enterprise of Jewish scholarship and contributes to informed living, understanding and entertainment for the entire English-reading world."

The awards will be presented at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, April 26 at the Center for Jewish History in New York.

"It seems to me that if we as Christians truly do want to be engaging our culture that we want to try to understand other religious traditions - and particularly one that is so close to our own," Schmidt says. "And to me it seems not only reasonable but also pleasurable to look at these people who are so close to us and who share so much of the Bible with us."

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson