The 39th annual Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism were presented virtually on July 2. Given by the American Jewish Press Association – whose membership consists of newspapers, magazines, websites, other electronic Jewish media organizations, individual journalists and affiliated organizations throughout the United States and Canada – the Jewish Independent garnered three prizes and an honourable mention for its work in 2019.
The JI competes in the 14,999-circulation-and-under division and swept that division in the Personal Essay category, winning first and second place. “Reflecting on my Jewish hero” by Becca Wertman about her grandfather (April 12, 2019) won first prize, while “Folk choir celebrates 40th” by Victor Neuman about the Vancouver Jewish Folk Choir’s 40th anniversary (May 10) placed second.
Neuman’s eight-part series on his life in Israel around the time of the 1973 Yom Kippur (Sept. 20 through Nov. 15) won first place in the 14,999-circulation-and-under division. And, in that division, Shelley Civkin’s Accidental Balabusta series received an honourable mention in the Excellence in Writing About Food and Wine category.
In the larger paper division, Canadian Jewish News, which closed its doors this year, won three first-place awards for its work in 2019. “A funeral for a survivor no one knew” by Zale Newman (Feb. 14) won the Award for Excellence in Personal Essay; “Navigating organ donation in Judaism” by Lila Sarick (June 6) won the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre Award for Excellence in Writing about Health Care; and “Rise of the vegan Jew” by Michael Fraiman (Oct. 3) won the Award for Excellence in Writing about Food and Wine.
To find out about all the other winners, visit ajpa.org/2020-competition.
Earlier this month, the American Jewish Press Association announced the winners of this year’s Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism, which honor achievements in Jewish media published in 2014. In its division (newspapers with 14,999 circulation and under), the Jewish Independent garnered two first places.
Publisher and editor Cynthia Ramsay won the first place award for excellence in writing about Jewish heritage and Jewish peoplehood in Europe for her article “World Musician at Rothstein” (Nov. 21, 2014), about the work of Lenka Lichtenberg. The group Art Without Borders was bringing Lichtenberg to Vancouver from her home base of Toronto for a solo performance at the Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre. The article includes reviews of Lichtenberg’s three most recent CDs and how, in all of her music, “the memory and traditions of those who have lived before can be heard – they are celebrated, and merge with the memories, traditions and passions of Lichtenberg and the artists with whom she collaborates.”
The JI editorial board – Pat Johnson, Basya Laye and Ramsay – won the paper’s other award: first place for excellence in editorial writing. The three editorials that comprised the winning entry were “The message is universal” (March 7, 2014), about plans for the Canadian National Holocaust Monument to be constructed in Ottawa; “The spirit of Limmud” (Feb. 14, 2014), about how the vision and passion of one woman, Ruth Hess-Dolgin z”l, significantly enriched our community by initiating the movement to bring Limmud here; and “Uniquely set apart for exclusion” (May 9, 2014), about the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations decision to exclude J Street from the group.
The Rockower awards will be presented at AJPA’s annual conference, which, for the second year in a row, is scheduled around the Jewish Federation General Assembly being held in Washington D.C. Nov. 8-10. AJPA sessions will be held Nov. 9-11. The entire list of Rockower winners can be found at ajpa.org/?page=2015Rockower.