Shoshana Nam­bi 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. Shoshana Nam­bi is the win­ner of the Chil­dren’s Pic­ture Book Tra­cy and Lar­ry Brown Fam­i­ly Award for her book The Very Best Sukkah: A Sto­ry from Ugan­da., illus­trat­ed by Moran Yogev.

Shoshi grew up with her grand­par­ents, who loved her and told her sto­ries. They would take turns telling her and her broth­ers folk sto­ries about lions and hye­nas, fire­wood gath­er­ers in deep forests who helped a lost boy get back to his fam­i­ly, and the bird with the most beau­ti­ful voice that sang and woke up the entire vil­lage. They used every oppor­tu­ni­ty to make up sto­ries with moral teach­ing, usu­al­ly about work­ing hard, respect­ing elders, and being kind to each other. 

In a world of 100 kids per class­room, the teacher hold­ing one book that every­one would share, I loved com­ing back home to hear sto­ries close to me. Sto­ries that I could touch and inter­act with, sto­ries that my grand­pa told humorously.

Sto­ries touch our hearts, and I’m so glad that The Very Best Sukkah: A Sto­ry from Ugan­da, beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed by Moran Yegev, res­onates with Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies around the world. Because it’s a sto­ry of joy, com­mu­ni­ty, and kindness. 

I’m very grate­ful to Kalan­iot books, my pub­lish­er, for giv­ing me a plat­form to con­tin­ue my grandparent’s sto­ry­telling, to write the sto­ry of my child­hood mem­o­ry, the joyul ways that my com­mu­ni­ty, the Abayu­daya Jews of Ugan­da cel­e­brate the hol­i­day of Sukkot and we take care of each oth­er. And to remind all of us that we all win when we work together.

I was raised and con­tin­ue to be sup­port­ed and men­tored by a village.

For this mile­stone, I like to thank my friend and fam­i­ly, Hedy Cohen, for mak­ing me feel smart and feel that I have some­thing to con­tribute to our world.

To my friend Mar­lene Bocast for send­ing books to read in my teenage years.

To my friend and men­tor Har­ri­et Bograd, who passed away last year, she loved to hear sto­ries of Jews around the world and she was always so proud women’s accomplish. 

To my amaz­ing daugh­ter, Emu­nah, for adding so much Joy to my life.

To Hebrew Union Col­lege and Con­gre­ga­tion Rodeph Sholom in NYC for allow­ing me to learn and grow as a future rabbi.

Final­ly, thank you so much to the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and to the Tra­cy and Lar­ry Fam­i­ly Award for the recog­ni­tion of this incred­i­ble award and for ampli­fy­ing Shoshi’s sto­ry even wider. Thank you!


March 12023

Stay Updat­ed with Our Newsletter