The Southern Jewish Historical Society awarded its 2019 Southern Jewish Historical Society Book Prize to authors Deborah R. Weiner and Eric L. Goldstein for their book “On Middle Ground: A History of Jews in Baltimore” published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
The Society, based in Marietta, Georgia, awards its book prize every four years for books “making the most significant contribution to the field of Southern Jewish history.” The prize was last given in 2015 to Adam Mendelsohn, author of “The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed Their Way to Success in America and the
This is not the first recognition for “On Middle Ground.” The book was also a finalist for the American Jewish Studies Book Award from the Jewish Book Council in 2018.
Goldstein, an Atlanta resident, is a professor of history and Jewish studies at Emory University who has been a frequent contributor to Jewish Museum of Maryland’s collection.
Weiner, a Maryland resident, worked as the JMM’s research historian from 2002 to 2013.
The award was announced in the most recent issue of “The Rambler,” the newsletter of the Southern Jewish Historical Society. In the item about the award, the organization’s Honors and Awards Committee Chair Adam Meyer called the book “a comprehensive, thoroughly researched, exceptionally well written, and engagingly illustrated volume.”
“‘On Middle Ground’ makes the case that Baltimore is unique among large cities in that it is neither fully northern nor fully southern,” Meyer continued, “and that the Jews of Baltimore have shared in this ‘middle’ position.”
The newsletter quoted one committee member as saying that the authors “achieved a synoptic history free of boosterism and special pleading,” while another commented that the book “can stand alone as a history of an important American city as well as a history of Jews who settled there.”
The committee also based the award on the fact that the book, while tackling difficult subject matter, did so “in a manner that has the potential for appeal to a wide readership.”