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Ateret Zvi Prize


The Ateret Zvi Prize in Hiddushei Torah is awarded annually to an outstanding essay displaying rigorous scholarship and religious insight.




The Ateret Zvi Prize is sponsored by the family of Rabbi and Professor Zvi H. Szubin. Professor Szubin studied at Yeshivat Hevron and received the smicha of yoreh yoreh, yadin yadin from Chief Rabbi Herzog. He served in the Israeli Army for three years, and was deployed to the Sinai during the 1956 Sinai campaign.

After completing university and an LL.B. degree in Israel, he came to the United States and received his Ph.D. from Dropsie College. He taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary and the City College of New York and, ultimately, became the Chair of the Classical Languages and Hebrew Department at City College.

Professor Szubin was a path-breaking thinker on a broad range of subjects, and authored numerous articles and works on subjects from agunah and mishpat ivri to the role of legal terminology in Jewish liturgy. His scholarly work focused on retrieving lost meanings and connotations of Hebrew and Aramaic terms through a careful study of ancient legal documents, and then refracting these new insights onto well-known texts to yield unexpected results.

Professor Szubin was a supporter of Hadar, in particular its fierce commitment to traditional Jewish values and texts, its unabashed egalitarianism, and its promising efforts to energize thoughtful Jews of all ages.

He is survived by his wife, Laurie Szubin, his children Lisa Szubin and Jay Katzman, Adam Szubin and Miriam Szubin, and his grandchildren, Leora Katzman, Jonathan Katzman, William Katzman, Nathan Szubin, Micah Szubin, and Josiah Szubin.


Submission Information



Create a well-considered and creative analysis of a Biblical or classical rabbinic text concluding with a relevant homiletical application in essay form. Submissions will be evaluated according to the following criteria: (1) Textual analysis (2) Religious insight (3) Sophistication and clarity of thought, and quality of writing (4) Novelty. The winning piece will be shared in written form by Hadar and partner organizations. There will also be an opportunity to share the content of the essay at a public award program.

Audience and approach

The imagined audience is intellectually engaged and religiously oriented. Professor Szubin was fond of drawing on lessons from art, comparative religion, archeology, literature, and linguistics, and we encourage drawing from any intellectual approach or method that helps to achieve the objective. View past winning submissions.


  • Original work: All submissions must be original and unpublished, including in print, online, or on social media. Sermons that have been shared from the pulpit may be submitted. Pieces that have been previously published on personal or synagogue websites may be submitted as long as they are substantially re-worked.
  • Word limit: 1800-4000 words, including footnotes (to be used sparingly). The word limit for Hebrew submissions is 3000 words. 
  • Language: Submissions may be in English or Hebrew.
  • Entries: Each writer may submit only one essay in a given year’s competition.
  • Anonymity: Please make sure not to include your name anywhere within the document, including in the file name, to ensure anonymity when the judges read your submission.
  • Deadline: Submissions received after the deadline (June 29, 2023) will not be considered.
  • Permissions: By submitting your work, you agree not to publish it anywhere before the 5783 Ateret Zvi Prize is awarded, and you license Hadar to publish it, at any time, non-exclusively, in any form, whether in print or online. Authors also retain copyright in their own submissions, and, after the Ateret Zvi Prize is awarded, they may publish or re-publish their own submissions in any form.

If you have any questions around these submission guidelines, please contact us at [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions


When are entries for this year’s competition due?

  • Submissions for the Ateret Zvi Prize in Hiddushei Torah 5783 are due no later than June 29, 2023.
Can I submit an essay in Hebrew?
  • Yes, submissions may be in English or Hebrew. However, any winning Hebrew submission will have to be translated into English; any costs associated with the translation will be paid out of the prize money.
Can I submit more than one piece for consideration?
  • No, each author may submit only one piece per year.
What format should my submission be in?
  • Submissions should be uploaded as a Word document (doc or docx file). Please make sure not to include your name anywhere within the document, including in the file name, to ensure anonymity when the judges read your submission.
When will the winners for this year’s competition be announced?
  • Winners for the Ateret Zvi Prize in Hiddushei Torah 5783 will be announced in September 2023.
When will the Prize Ceremony be held?
  • The Prize Ceremony for the Ateret Zvi Prize in Hiddushei Torah 5783 will be held in Fall 2023. The exact date will be announced when the winners are announced in September.

Prize Details


Submissions will be judged by a special committee of scholars assembled by Hadar. Judges will assess submissions based on the quality of the presentation, the strength of its scholarship, and the power of its religious insight.

The winner of the Ateret Zvi prize will receive $4,000. The second place winner will receive $600, and the third place winner will receive $400. The winning dvar Torah will be published by Hadar and the winner will be invited to teach the dvar torah in a public forum held in honor of the winning submission. Travel from abroad is not covered for this purpose and prize money will need to be directed to that. Full-time staff and faculty of Hadar, judges, and their immediate family members are ineligible to submit.

Other exceptional entries may be published as well; Hadar reserves the right to share all submissions publicly once having notified the authors.


Past Winners


  • 5782: A Time to Mourn: Aveilut as Minor Holiday
    Rabbi Ben Greenfield
    Read essay here.
  • 5781: Prometheus' Havdalah: Divine Dependence & Human Self-Reliance
    Rabbi Leead Staller
    Read essay here.
  • 5780: The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy? On the Possible Meanings of Repentance
    Orit Malka
    Read essay in English here; in Hebrew here.
  • 5779: Out Beyond the Sea: A Theology of Divine Absence
    Akiva Mattenson
    Read essay here.

Standout Essays

  • Jonah and the New Era of Teshuvah
    Mira Bernstein
    Read essay here.
  • How Does an Etrog Glorify God?: Hiddur Mitzvah, the Individual, and the Community
    Ranana Dine
    Read essay here.
  • מתנות קשות
    Tomer Greenberg
    Read essay in Hebrew here.
  • My Brother's Keeper: Judah, Tamar, and the Lineage of Israel
    Benjamin Hofkin
    Read essay here.
  • Ba-kol, Mi-kol, Kol: The Blessing of Avraham’s Mythic Daughter
    Margo Hughes-Robinson
    Read essay here.
  • Lighting Up the Night:The Revolutionary Mandate of a Rabbinic Coup
    Avi Poupko
    Read essay here.
  • May You Be Like Sarah and Milcah
    David Saperstein
    Read essay here.
  • On Oenomaus, Balaam, and Jewish Education
    Amram Tropper
    Read essay here.
  • Aharon, Yirmiyahu, and the Almond Rod
    Elisheva Urbas
    Read essay here.
  • Sha’atnez as Ostentatious Dress: Towards a Demystification of the Choq
    Solomon Wiener
    Read essay here.
  • From Monarch to Matriarch: Re-reading Megillat Esther in Her Own Words
    Rabbi Dovid Zirkind
    Read essay here.