Jewish Children’s Book Awards 2023: Winners announced on World Book Day

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Jewish Children’s Book Awards 2023: Winners announced on World Book Day

Illustrations of a magic challah that feeds a whole town wins award supported by Jewish Book Week and publisher Green Bean Books

Magic Challah illustration by Mel Zohar. Pic: Green Bean Books
Magic Challah illustration by Mel Zohar. Pic: Green Bean Books

An Italian-Jewish artist and London-based author have won the illustration and writing prizes in the 2023 Jewish Children’s Book Awards.

The competition, run by Green Bean Books and Jewish Book Week, honoured Rome-based illustrator Mel Zohar, who illustrated a story about her grandparents’ delicious magical challah which grows so big that it feeds the whole town, even the poor and the homeless, for Shabbat.

London-based Dina Leifer won the writing prize for ‘And Eddie Had An Egg’, a tale based on her memories of her own son and his reluctance to try new food.

Left to right; Michael Levinthal, Mel Zohar, the Italian illustrator holding her award, Israeli publisher and judge Yael Molchadsky and translator and judge Lawrence Schimel

The two winners each won a £1000 award and a glass trophy.

The awards are judged by author and chair of the book selection committee of PJ Library Chris Barash; publisher of Green Bean Books Michael Leventhal; director of the children’s and YA (Young Adult) department at publishing house Kinneret-Zmora-Dvir Yael Molchadsky; translator and author Lawrence Schimel; and award-winning author Eric Kimmel.

Leventhal said: “Mel Zohar’s illustrations about an ever-growing challah are bright and exciting. She is an incredibly creative and original talent. Dina Leifer’s story is a charming, witty and clever story about a boy who is a fussy eater but eventually gets one over his parents.”

Illustrations by Italian illustrator Mel Zohar, Pic: Green Bean Books

Zohar, 32, from Rome, Italy, said: “I want to thank all the judges who, with this decision, have made me very happy, not only for the recognition I have received for my work as an illustrator, but even more because these images come from my personal family background and from my personal bond with the Jewish tradition and creating them was very emotionally involving for me.  And I also want to really thank my Bobe (grandmother) for inspiring them.”

Leifer, 56, who was born in Dundee and now lives in London said: “I am delighted! ‘And Eddie Had An Egg’ is a story that is very close to my heart, so it means a great deal that it was chosen by the distinguished panel at the Jewish Children’s Book Awards. Winning this award has boosted my confidence to go on and write more Jewish stories for children.”

Two other writers were shortlisted for the text award: Rebecca Marcus for ‘Even the Masfa’, and Angela Kanter for ‘On One Leg’.

The Jewish Children’s Book Awards were first launched in 2021. The 2023/2024 competition will be launched in April 2023.  For more details please see or contact

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