Michael W. Twit­ty at the 72nd Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards Celebration

Pho­to­graph by Leor Michan

On March 1, 2023, we had the hon­or of cel­e­brat­ing the 72nd Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award win­ners at Bohemi­an Nation­al Hall. Over the next few weeks, we will be pub­lish­ing the remarks of the win­ners who spoke at this cel­e­bra­to­ry din­ner. Michael W. Twit­ty is the win­ner of the Everett Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Jew­ish Book of the Year Award for his book Kosher­soul: The Faith and Food Jour­ney of an African Amer­i­can Jew.


The Cook­ing Gene was about repair­ing a fam­i­ly tree. Kosher­soul cen­tered around repair­ing a mosa­ic an ancient mosa­ic as old as Moshe and Tzip­po­rah and as new as Drake and Tiffany Haddish.

We Jews and Black folks, in Venn Dia­gram togeth­er and apart rep­re­sent the test of the promise of Amer­i­ca, the Amer­i­ca’s as a place of free­dom. Along with the ongo­ing saga of indige­nous peo­ples and waves of immi­grants look­ing for sal­va­tion beyond the sys­tems of upheaval. We have fought togeth­er and apart we have made com­mu­ni­ty and had con­flict and we have become fam­i­ly in unlike­ly places in defi­ance of the West­’s orig­i­nal sins of anti­semitism and anti-Blackness.

Despite the accu­sa­tions and libels we are not imposters we are wit­ness­es, we are agents of moral sua­sion and social justice…we are not ene­mies we are heal­ers, strivers and pil­grims. We are a chal­lenge to the lie the human is not a world, and that the world is only as good as its end. And we are vis­i­ble. And Black and Jew­ish lives mat­ter. We will always defy erasure.

Thank you for this award. I stand here with Dr. Mar­cie Cohen Fer­ris, Rab­bi Gil Marks of blessed mem­o­ry, Joan Nathan Faye Levy and Clau­dia Roden. This bless­ing and oppor­tu­ni­ty is frankly my own cor­ner of both Black his­to­ry and Jew­ish his­to­ry. You have no idea how I nev­er dreamed my lot in life would be mak­ing the thing I love the most…history.

To my Ances­tors and the tzad­dikim who walked before us, 

Lo Ahavti Dai

Toda Raba.

Michael W. Twit­ty is a not­ed culi­nary and cul­tur­al his­to­ri­an and the cre­ator of Afro­culi­nar­ia, the first blog devot­ed to African Amer­i­can his­toric food­ways and their lega­cies. Twit­ty has appeared through­out the media, includ­ing on NPRs The Splen­did Table, and has giv­en more than 250 talks in the Unit­ed States and abroad.