The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has announced the winners of its 2012 Hosanna Preaching Prize.  This year’s prizes are awarded to Rabbi Alissa Wise, co-founder of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voices for Peace and to Mark Braverman, program director of Kairos USA.

Rabbi Wise’s sermon, entitled “God is in This Place,” was delivered at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco.  Centering her thoughts around Jacob’s awakening at Bethel recounted in Genesis 28:16, Rabbi Wise explored her own spiritual awakening to justice issues.  This awakening led her to affirm the centrality of tochecha, the sacred duty of rebuke found in the Holiness Code (Lev 19:17), which so animates the prophetic tradition.

Braverman’s sermon, entitled “Can These Bones Live?” was delivered at Iona Abbey in Scotland.  Working with both the New Testament account of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21) and the account of Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37: 1-14), Braverman reflected on the importance of kairos moments, those episodes in history where “God offers a new set of possibilities [that] we have to accept or decline.” 

The full texts of both sermons can be found at

The awards represent the inauguration of the Hosanna Preaching Prize, an annual prize intended to foster the exploration of and reflection upon Biblical texts that support justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel. 

Recognizing that Biblical texts have too often been used to foster and support injustice, The Hosanna Preaching Prize lifts up those preachers who understand and demand that the Bible must never be used to justify oppression. 

Two awards will be given each year, one focusing on a text from Hebrew Scriptures and one focusing on a text from the New Testament.

The Hosanna Preaching Prize was established by Noushin Framke, a Presbyterian ruling elder from New York City, in honor of her grandmother Osanna Panian, who as a ten year old in 1915, walked over the mountains from Armenia into Iran, escaping the Armenian Genocide.  She lived her life as a refugee, always hoping and expecting to return to her homeland.  Because she was born on Palm Sunday, she was named Osanna, (Hosanna) which means, “We beseech you, save us!”  

The Hosanna Preaching Prize is awarded by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network in the hope that all refugees might find their way home.

Robert Trawick is a Presbyterian elder living in New City, NY.  He is an associate professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY.