Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The Jewish Press, the country’s longest running and largest Jewish weekly publication, was recently recognized for its excellence in journalism by AJPA (The American Jewish Press Association), winning first place in one category, two second place finishes, and another two honorable mentions, in multiple categories for work done in 2022. The prestigious awards, which are popularly known as the “Jewish Pulitzers,” pay tribute to the achievements in Jewish media, and were presented at the 42nd Annual Simon Rockower Awards banquet held in conjunction with the American Jewish Press Association’s 2023 Annual Conference in New Orleans, La. on July 11.
The Jewish Press ranked first place in the award for excellence in news obituaries category for the article “Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Political Powerhouse in New York, Dies at 77,” by Marc Gronich. (Publications compete against like publications – in terms of frequency of publishing, whether they are a magazine or newspaper, and whether they are for print or web-only.)
The author peeled back the layers of the last days of Silver’s career to reveal the true mensch behind the political powerhouse that was Sheldon Speaker. The takeaway of this moving obituary is that Silver was always a defender of Jews and Jewish values. The judges commented, “The writer’s ability to enable readers to focus on Mr. Silver’s accomplishments – not how his career ended – shows great skill, thorough reporting and compassion. A challenge faced head on with aplomb.”
In the David Frank Award for Excellence in Personality Profiles category, The Jewish Press earned second place for “Christian Assemblywoman Ponders Jewish Conversion” by Marc Gronich. The fascinating article, profiled Assemblywoman Taylor Darling, who is Black with British and Caribbean ancestry, and her contemplating converting to Judaism after a moving trip to Israel. The judges noted, “Political figures can be real people too, as this nicely constructed account of a New York State Assemblywoman reveals that.”
It was Marc Gronich yet again, winning second place in the food and wine category for his article “Grapes Galore: Kosher Wineries Move Into High Gear,” which provides readers with a detailed and behind-the-scenes story of where kosher wine comes from. The tour was given during Covid and needed special permission from corporate headquarters in California. Gronich went above and beyond to secure the award-winning interview to communicate to the readers a seldom-told story.
Gronich said that winning three Jewish journalism awards from a prestigious group such as the American Jewish Press Association means more to him than winning an award from either the Associated Press or from his political colleagues at the Legislative Correspondents’ Association in Albany. ”There is so much bad journalism online, in social media, on television and in print, I am gratified to be selected above those who leave this profession much to be desired,” he said.
The Jewish Press received an honorable mention for the article “The Torah is not a political football” by Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Sinensky in the category of single commentary. In this compelling piece, which generated much discussion online, the author warns readers not to turn Torah into a political cudgel and use it to “score points for your team.”
The Jewish Press again won an honorable mention for “A New Chinese Tehillim – As Oppression in China Continues” by Baruch Lytle in the category of social justice and humanitarian work. The article highlights the struggles of Jewish descendants of Keifeng who have to straddle being Jewish in a very rigid and sometimes oppressive country.
“In China, Chinese Jews are forbidden to congregate and practice their faith,” Lytle told The Jewish Press. He added that the discrimination should not be viewed as antisemitism and that the “Chinese have historically been very kind to the Jews and still are today. But religion is simply not allowed.”
He also noted, “It’s hard to read and write about these things without it affecting you in some way.”
The AJPA was founded in 1944 as a voluntary non-for-profit professional association for the English-language Jewish press in North America. It boasts 141 members representing the gamut of Jewish publishing. Its objective is to elevate the status of American Jewish journalism by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas, as well as providing a platform for cooperative activities among American Jewish press.
“I am thrilled to add the awards bestowed upon me this year to my collection of other journalism awards I have received over the years,” said Gronich. “It is gratifying to realize all the hard work and many hours of piecing together a news story that is meaningful to the readers, gets recognized. I write stories with the readers in mind and that seems to be a successful and winning formula.”