Beth Dotan Receives the 2023 Sower Award in the Humanities

The 2023 Sower Award in the Humanities was presented to Beth S. Dotan, Ph.D., on October 10, 2023 immediately preceding the 28th Annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha.

Beth S. Dotan, Ph.D.  received the 2023 Sower Award in the Humanities in recognition of her efforts to increase understanding about the Holocaust. 

A research assistant professor in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Harris Center for Judaic Studies, Dotan created the Nebraska Stories of Humanity website as part of her Ph.D. work at UNL. Funded by HN, this digital web portal highlights stories of Holocaust survivors and servicemen who liberated Nazi camps and settled in Nebraska after World War II.

“Her programs and projects have advanced scholarship in the humanities and her advocacy of this work to the greater community has been uniquely effective,” said nominator Robert Nefsky. Nefsky is former chairman of the Nebraska Humanities Council board (1995-96) and received the Sower Award in 1998.

Dotan is a native Nebraskan who has lived and worked both here and in Israel. From 2000-2013, she served as the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Holocaust Education in Omaha. She has also served as the Director, International Department of the Ghetto Fighters House Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum in Lohamei HaGeta’ot, Israel, from 2012-2015. From 2015-2018, she served as compliance officer and project administrator of Tsofen, an Arab-Jewish organization promoting the integration of Israel’s Arab citizens into its high tech industries.

Prior to receiving her Ph.D. from UNL, Dotan graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BA in History and Hebrew. She earned a MA in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles.

Dotan will be honored on Oct. 10, 2023, during the 28th Annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha. Titled, “From Moscow to the Lincoln Highway: An Evening with Amor Towles,” the free public event will begin at 7:30 p.m. following a benefit dinner to help raise funds to support HN’s statewide programming. A live-stream viewing option will also be available. 

About the Sower Award in the Humanities

Humanities Nebraska presents the Sower Award in the Humanities annually to honor an individual who has made a significant contribution to the public understanding of the humanities in Nebraska. This contribution can be made through any combination of time, expertise, or resources. The selection committee will consider how nominees have helped enrich the lives of Nebraskans through the humanities: history, literature, culture, philosophy, and all the ways we explore what it means to be human.

Each year, the Sower Award in the Humanities is presented prior to the annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities. The award recipient must be present. In some past years the Sower Award was presented to organizations or communities; as of 2016 only individuals are eligible for nomination. Current board and staff members of Humanities Nebraska are not eligible.

Previous honorees have included: 

  • Talented humanities faculty who have taken the humanities to the public beyond their classroom;
  • Committed volunteers dedicating their time and energy to enhancing the cultural life of Nebraska;
  • Thoughtful journalists and filmmakers bringing the humanities to bear on important public issues;
  • Generous philanthropists who have directed significant financial support to humanities-related programs and projects accessible by Nebraskans

Past Sower Award Recipients:

Individuals: Marian Andersen, Robert Audi, Keith Blackledge, Marion Marsh Brown, Gene Bunge, Jack Campbell, State Sen. LaVon Crosby, Nancy Duncan, Walter Friedlander, Judi gaiashkibos, John Gottschalk, Natalie Hahn, Richard Holland, Jane Renner Hood, Ron Hull, Ted Kooser, Frederick Luebke, Robert Manley, Jack McBride, Gary Moulton, Ron Naugle, Robert Nefsky, Paul Olson, Don Pederson, Rhonda Seacrest, Todd Simon, Joe Seger, Bernice Slote, Annette and Paul Smith, Pamela Hilton Snow, Joe Starita, E.N. “Jack” Thompson, Charles “Chuck” Trimble, Morrie Tuttle, Katherine L. Walter, Don Welch, Larry Wewel, and John R. Wunder.

Institutions: Beatrice Public Library, Commercial Federal Savings and Loan, Cooper Foundation, El Museo Latino, Holdrege Public Library, InterNorth Foundation, Peter Kiewit Foundation, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, Nebraska Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Omaha World Herald, Septemberfest Committee of Omaha, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Education Foundation, and the Woods Charitable Fund.

Communities: Aurora, Central City, Chadron, Cozad, David City, Gering, Henderson, Oakland, Scottsbluff, Seward, and Verdigre.