2010 Cowan Award Winner

Fred Rosenbaum is the 2010 winner of the Anne and Robert Cowan Writers’ Fund Award of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.

The Anne and Robert Cowan Writers’ Fund has been established to recognize and award writers who have made an exceptional impact in the Bay Area through their uniquely Jewish perspective. Awardees must be published Jewish writers who:
  • reside in the greater San Francisco Bay Area;
  • are considered exceptionally gifted by their peers and readers;
  • write with a high degree of creativity and intelligence;
  • include positive Jewish themes in their subject matter; and
  • refer to Israel in a supportive and constructive manner.
The award carries a $5,000 award to be used at the winner’s discretion.

Mr. Rosenbaum, the founding director of Lehrhaus Judaica, has written seven books on modern Jewish history, including Visions of Reform (Magnes Museum, 2000), a full-length study of San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El, acclaimed by Professor Jonathan Sarna in the Forward as “a sign of a new spirit of candor in American Judaism.” His Taking Risks, co-authored with Joseph Pell, (RDR Press, 2004), describes Pell’s exploits as a Soviet partisan and was hailed in the San Francisco Chronicle as “transcending the genre” of Holocaust memoirs. Here, There are No Sarahs (RDR Press, 2009), co-authored with Sonia Orbuch, tells the woman’s side of the Jewish partisan saga. His most recent book, Out on a Ledge, co-authored by Eva Libitzky, has been praised by Michael Berenbaum as “honest and piercing, unsentimental and yet deeply moving.” Rosenbaum has also written numerous articles including five entries in the award-winning second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica published in 2006.

Rosenbaum’s magnum opus is Cosmopolitans: A Social and Intellectual History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area, published by the University of California Press in 2009. According to Kevin Starr, “no single community has contributed comparably to the rise and development of this region—and no book tells this story better than Fred Rosenbaum’s.”

Cowan award nominator, JoAnn Jacobson adds: “Cosmopolitans shows an emerging Jewish community in an uncharted land. The men and women who made the trip to San Francisco were truly innovators. They inhabited a new land and brought with them very few of the 'old' ways. Fred Rosenbaum was forthright in describing the anti-Zionist movement at Temple Emanu-El and never whitewashed the improprieties of some religious leaders. There is no revisionist history in Fred's writing, just the truth. “

Read about past winners of the Cowan Award, including Jean Gonick, Julie Orringer, and Leo Litwak.
Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties
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