Jewish Publication Society

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Jewish Publication Society
Founded 1888
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Philadelphia
Publication types Books
Nonfiction topics Judaica
Official website www.jps.org

The Jewish Publication Society (JPS), originally known as the Jewish Publication Society of America, is the oldest nonprofit, nondenominational publisher of Jewish works in English. Founded in Philadelphia in 1888, by reform Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf among others, JPS is especially well known for its English translation of the Hebrew Bible, the JPS Tanakh.

The JPS Bible translation is used in Jewish and Christian seminaries, on hundreds of college campuses, in informal adult study settings, in synagogues, and in Jewish day schools and supplementary programs. It has been licensed in a wide variety of books as well as in electronic media.

As a nonprofit publisher, JPS continues to develop projects that for-profit publishers will not invest in, significant projects that may take years to complete. Other core JPS projects include the ongoing JPS Bible commentary series; books on Jewish tradition, holidays and customs, history, theology, ethics and philosophy; midrash and Rabbinics; and its many Bible editions and Bible study resources.[1]

Since 2012, JPS publications have been distributed by the University of Nebraska Press.[2][3]

History[edit]

The first Jewish Publication Society was founded in 1845 in Philadelphia, but was dissolved years later after a fire destroyed the building and the entire JPS stock.[4]

The 1880s saw an “awakening of interest in Judaism and Jewish culture of the part of young Jews… [and a] growing sense of American Jewry’s destiny on the world Jewish stage.” In response to the growing need for English-language Jewish texts, rabbis and lay leaders of the American Jewish community met on June 3, 1888 at a national convention in Philadelphia to discuss the re-founding of a national Jewish publication society.[5] That day, after many squabbles, debates, and political maneuverings, the Jewish Publication Society was “gaveled into being.”[6]

As JPS moved into the 20th century, membership grew rapidly. After years of meetings, deliberations and revisions, the entire translation of the Bible was finally completed in 1917. This crowning achievement was put to use at the start of World War I, when young Jewish men were given prayer books and Bible readings as they marched off to war.[7][8][9]

As Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power during the 1930s, Jews in America resisted anti-Semitism through the power of words. Works such as The Decay of Czarism and Legends of the Jews became staples of Jewish literacy and helped to preserve the legacy of European Jewry. [10] JPS also assisted the war effort by supporting refugee employment and resettlement, and by printing pamphlets that were dropped behind enemy lines, at the request of the American government.[11]

During the latter half of the 20th century, JPS published a revised translation of the Bible, books detailing both war atrocities and triumphs, and books with a new-found focus on the State of Israel. Works such as The JPS Commentary Series, The Jewish Catalog and The K’Tonton Series were tremendously successful. In 1985, the newly translated three parts of the Bible (the Torah, Prophets, and Writings) were finally compiled into what is now known as the JPS Tanakh (or NJPS, New JPS translation, to distinguish it from the OJPS, or Old JPS translation of 1917).[1]

In September 2011, JPS entered into a new collaborative publishing arrangement with the University of Nebraska Press, under which Nebraska purchased all of JPS's outstanding book inventory, and is responsible for the production, distribution, and marketing of all JPS publications, effective January 1, 2012. JPS continues its operations from its Philadelphia headquarters, acquiring new manuscripts and developing new projects. [2][3][12]

Leadership[edit]

JPS is governed by a Board of Trustees, headed by Board President Gittel Hilibrand.

Past editors-in-chief include Henrietta Szold (1893–1916), Solomon Grayzel (1939–1966), and Chaim Potok (1966–1974).

Chaim Potok was significantly involved in JPS's publication activities for 35 years, serving as editor for 8 years, secretary of the Bible translation committee for the Writings (Ketuvim) for 16 years, chair of the JPS Editorial Committee for 18 years and literary editor to its Bible program for 18 years.

Dr. Ellen Frankel was editor-in-chief (and later also CEO) from 1991 until her retirement in October 2009. She is now Editor Emerita of the Society.

Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz became the CEO in 2010, when he came to JPS from Congregation M'Kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where he served as senior rabbi for 11 years. Rabbi Schwartz served on the board of several nonprofit social justice organizations, and is especially active in Jewish environmental work.[13]

Carol Hupping was managing editor (and for some years publishing director) from 1991 until her retirement in March, 2016. Joy Weinberg succeeded her as managing editor in April 2016.

Notable publications[edit]

  • The JPS Torah Commentaries (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
  • The JPS Bible Commentaries" (Ecclesiastes, Esther, Haftarot, Jonah, Ruth, Song of Songs)
  • Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence Schiffman
  • The JPS Commentary on the Haggadah", Joseph Tabory
  • Dictionary of Jewish Words, Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic
  • The Jewish Bible, The Jewish Publication Society
  • Celebrating the Jewish Year in 3 volumes, Paul Steinberg, Janet Greenstein Potter
  • The Commentators' Bible (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Genesis in 2018), Michael Carasik
  • JPS Illustrated Children's Bible, Ellen Frankel
  • Chanting the Hebrew Bible, Josh Jacobson

Audio Bible[edit]

The JPS TANAKH: The Jewish Bible, audio version is a recorded version of the JPS TANAKH, the most widely read English translation of the Hebrew (the Jewish) Bible.[14] Produced and recorded for The Jewish Publication Society (JPS) by The Jewish Braille Institute (JBI), this complete, unabridged audio version features over 60 hours of readings by 13 narrators. It is available for purchase or by subscription from many audio book vendors. The audio version of the weekly Bible reading was available on the JPS website and will be again soon.

Awards[edit]

In the past 20 years, JPS has won many National Jewish Book Awards, an achievement matched only by major presses such as Random House, Doubleday, Yale, Princeton and Oxford University Press.

National Jewish Book Awards (since 2000)[edit]

2000:

  • Synagogues without Jews, Ben-Zion and Rivka

2001:

  • Forged in Freedom, Norman Finkelstein
  • The Rebbe’s Daughter, Nehemiah Polen
  • Etz Hayim, ed. David Lieber

2003:

  • To Do the Right and the Good, Elliot Dorff

2006:

  • Folktales of the Jews: Tales from the Sephardic Dispersion, Dan Ben-Amos
  • Lilith’s Ark: Teenage Tales of Biblical Women, Deborah Cohen

2007:

  • Inventing Jewish Ritual, Vanessa Ochs
  • The Power of Song and Other Sephardic Tales, Rita Roth

2009:

  • JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible, Ellen Frankel, Illustrated by Avi Katz
  • Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Spring and Summer Holidays: Passover, the Omer, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, Paul Steinberg, Janet Greenstein Potter, Editor
  • Subversive Sequels in the Bible, Judy Klitsner

2011:

  • The JPS Bible Commentary: Ruth, Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Tikva Frymer-Kensky

2014:

  • Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, Louis Feldman, James Kugel, and Lawrence Schiffman


Children's Book Awards[edit]

  • Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust, Eve Bunting (A Notable Children’s Book in the Field of Social Studies)
  • The Jewish Kids Catalog, Chaya Burstein (National Jewish Book Award)
  • The Castle on Hester Street, Linda Heller (Parents’ Choice Award)
  • In the Mouth of the Wolf, Rose Zar (Association of Jewish Librarians Best Book Award)
  • The Power of Song and Other Sephardic Tales, Rita Roth (National Jewish Book Award)
  • Anne Frank: A Life in Hiding, Johanna Hurwitz (Nominated for the Texas Blue Bonnet Award: A Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies)
  • Haym Salomon: Liberty’s Son, Shirley Milgrim (National Jewish Book Award)
  • Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks, Amy Schwartz (National Jewish Book Award and Association of Jewish Librarians Best Book Award)
  • Clara’s Story, Clara Isaacman (Sydney Taylor Honor Book)
  • Lilith’s Ark, Deborah Bodin Cohen (Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens)
  • Of Heroes, Hooks and Heirlooms, Faye Silton (Winner of Sydney Taylor Manuscript Competition)
  • A Coat for the Moon and Other Jewish Tales, Howard Schwartz (Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award and Storytelling World Magazine Award)
  • David and Max, Gary Provost and Gail Levine-Provost (Notable Children’s Book in the Field of Social Studies, Skipping Stones Honor Award)
  • Potato Pancakes All Around, Marilyn Hirsch (Children’s Choice Award)
  • JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible, Ellen Frankel(National Jewish Book Award and Taylor Book Award Notable Book for Readers of All Ages)
  • Naomi’s Song, Selma Kritzer Silverberg (Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor for Books for Teen Readers)
  • Elvina’s Mirror, Sylvie Weil (Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book for Older Readers)

Other recent awards[edit]

2008:

  • Skipping Stones Honor Award--A Shout in the Sunshine, Mara Cohen Ioannides

2009:

  • Sophie Brody Medal--From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books, Arie Kaplan
  • Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth Winner--From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books, Arie Kaplan

References[edit]

External links[edit]