Announcing This Year’s Borsch-Rast Prize Winner, Dr. Laurie Zoloth
BERKELEY, CA - February 8, 2024 - The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is pleased to announce that Dr. Laurie Zoloth (PhD ‘93 and Alum of the Year ‘05) has been awarded the seventh annual Borsch-Rast Book Prize and Lectureship for her 2022 publication, Second Texts & Second Opinions: Essays Toward a Jewish Bioethics (Oxford University Press).
Dr. Zoloth's acclaimed book delves into the complexities of bioethics through the lens of rabbinic stories, drawing from her extensive experience in a California hospital system. "I am deeply honored by this prize, for it recognizes what has been a lifetime of thinking about bioethics and the deep moral gesture that is medicine, from the time I first trained, at 19, as a nurse, and until now, as a professor” said Dr. Zoloth. “I also believe that telling these stories is one small way to honor the families and caregivers that are the subject of this work—that is my hope in all my writing."
Situated within the intensive care units of a large public California hospital system, the book examines the ethical dilemmas and moral appeals faced by the system’s ethics committee. The committee would hear hundreds of cases each year, including pediatric cases from the hospital's intensive care, neonatal intensive care, burn, and oncology units.
"While taking rabbinic stories as models and interlocutors, Dr. Zoloth narrates the work of an ethics committee at a California hospital. In doing so, she recovers both the power and the limits of storytelling in the face of human suffering," said Dr. Naomi Seidman, Jackman Humanities Professor at the University of Toronto, former director of the GTU’s Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies, Borsch-Rast Book Prize recipient 2017, and a member of the prize committee.
Throughout the book, Dr. Zoloth reflects on her journey from her formative years as a student at the GTU, which led to her work as a clinical ethicist, and explores themes of memory, judgment, loss, healing, and justice. She emphasizes the critical intersection of theological reflection and practical considerations in bioethics, urging a deeper understanding of healthcare challenges through a theological lens. “I hope that scholars of religion will be introduced to some of the realities of the clinical world,” Dr. Zoloth elaborated in a recent conversation, “and that health care professionals might be introduced to a theological discourse.”
About the Borsch-Rast Book Prize
Established in 2016, the Borsch-Rast Book Prize aims to encourage innovative theological scholarship by GTU graduates and current faculty. Awarded annually, this prestigious prize, accompanied by a $10,000 award, honors the collaborative legacy of Frederick Houk Borsch (1935-2017) and Harold W. Rast (1933-2004).
The Borsch-Rast selection committee awarded an Honorable Mention to GTU Alum Jonathan Homrighausen (MA ‘18) for his book Planting Letters and Weaving Lines: Calligraphy, The Song of Songs, and The Saint John’s Bible (Liturgical Press, 2022), which shows how calligraphic art effectively weaves together visual form, textual content, and the creative process in this The Saint John’s Bible.
The GTU will begin accepting nominations for 2023 publications written by GTU faculty and alums for the next Borsch-Rast Book Prize and Lectureship on May 19, 2024.
Visit https://www.gtu.edu/academics/borsch-rast-prize-lectureship for more information on the Borsch-Rast Book Prize and Lectureship, including contest guidelines, the nominations form, and past recipients.