For Scholarly Excellence in Research of the Jewish Experience
In 2020, the Knapp Family Foundation and the University of Vienna established the Salo W. and Jeannette M. Baron Award for Scholarly Excellence in Research on the Jewish Experience. The Baron Award is presented biannually to a recognized scholar for a body of work. This year’s senior laureate is Emanuel Tov, emeritus professor of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Awards will also be presented to two graduate students for an individual work representing the highest scholarly achievement.
The Baron Award honors the achievements and legacy of Salo Wittmayer Baron considered "the greatest Jewish historian of the 20th century." "His research spanned Europe, North Africa, America and the Middle East, geographically and across the centuries. Baron was born on May 26, 1895, in Tarnˇw, Galicia which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1920, he received his rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Vienna and multiple doctorates from the University of Vienna. In January 1930, Baron accepted the Nathan L. Miller Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Institutions at Columbia University, the first of its kind anywhere. It was at Columbia that he met his wife Jeannette Meisel who became his most trusted companion in life and collaborator in his scholarly work.
Mastering over twenty languages, Baron’s seminal achievement was his eighteen volume "A Social and Religious History of the Jews" (2nd ed. 1952-1983). His life’s work was to reevaluate what he called the "lachrymose conception" of Jewish history and consider also their successes and their sheer perseverance that marked that history. While "suffering is part of the destiny" of the Jewish people "but so is repeated joy and ultimate redemption." Baron thus galvanised a far more nuanced perception of a people that went beyond mere victimization. His work was therefore of great importance beyond the world of scholarship as it lays the ground work for how Jews in Israel and elsewhere perceive themselves and are perceived by others.
This year’s senior laureate is Emanuel Tov. Emanuel Tov emigrated to Israel at a young age. In 1973 he received his doctorate from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with a thesis on the translation of the Book of Jeremiah in the Septuagint. Since 1986 he has been a professor at the Hebrew University, since 1990 as J.L. Magnes Professor of Hebrew Bible. He was given emeritus status in 2009. In addition, he has been the main editor of textual findings from the Dead Sea since 1990. In addition to teaching in Jerusalem, Tov has also taught at numerous top-ranked universities around the world, including Harvard University and Oxford University. Tov is a member of the British Academy and has received many prestigious academic awards, including the Humboldt Prize and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Emet Prize for Biblical Research.
Tov’s research focuses on the Hebrew Bible as the central text of Judaism, and its history. His book "Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible" is one of the standard works in Jewish Studies. Tov’s research has enhanced our knowledge on how Biblical text was shaped significantly. Tov is a leading figure of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. Under his guidance, more than thirty volumes appeared between 1992 and 2010 in the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series. Like Salo W. Baron, Emanuel Tov is one of the few scholars who contributed to a new field of research but also to the organisation of research and science.
C: Emanuel Tov