It is always gratifying to learn that you’ve been recognized for the quality of your work. So when I was notified that I’d won two Simon Rockower Awards from the American Jewish Press Association, I was pleased. Although I had won before, I had never received two in a given year. More significantly the odds in favor of my winning had seemed, at least to me, more daunting than before.
Ever since the Jewish Federation of Rockland County decided to scrap the Rockland Jewish Reporter, my place in the Jewish news biz has been tenuous. I helped start the Rockland Jewish Standard for Jewish Media Group, but their commitment to local news in Rockland wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be.
My journey since then eventually landed me at the JCC Association, which has worked out just fine. But I wanted to keep writing my column and in March 2013 launched a blog – which has got to be one of the ugliest-sounding words in the English language – so that I could continue to do so.
It was for a body of work on my blog, which has a few hundred readers at most at any given time, for which I won the Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary.
The columns for which I won second place are varied. One discusses the intersection of communities, Jewish and not, in East Rampo; another both makes fun of and buys into (just a bit) the whole mishegas around Thanksgivvukah — when Thanksgiving and Chaunukah collided —last November: and the other discusses apartheid in South Africa and the thorny issues raised by the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) movement regarding Israel today.
My other award, also second place, was for excellence for a single work of commentary in the Rockland Jewish Standard. “What Shuls can Learn from Shoes,” which I wrote after Ron Wolfson, who speaks passionately about Jewish engagement and institutional reinvention, visited Rockland County.
The most stunning thing to me about all of this is that my tiny blog – which has only 39 subscribers, but gets better readership on Facebook and Twitter — won in the larger circulation category, for newspapers with subscriptions of 15,000 and up. I This category includes all websites and magazines, which usually have a national profile, and such newspapers like the Jewish Week, J, the Jewish Weekly of San Francisco, the New Jersey Jewish News (editor Andrew Silow-Carroll has dominated this category for the past several years, again taking first this year), the Forward and the Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia, among others.
Being recognized for your work in a competition of your peers by knowledgeable judges is nice. Knowing that even though I’m no longer in news that I’m still in the game is even better.
♦ Second place for the Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary, for this website marlaecohen.com (category: circulation 15,000 and up)
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♦ Second place for Excellence in Single Commentary (category: circulation 15,000 and up)
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♦ In 2007, 2009 and 2011, I won Simon Rockower Awards from the American Jewish Press Association, the professional organization that promotes a robust and independent Jewish media.
In each of those years, I was awarded the Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary for a body of opinion pieces that had run in the previous publication year in a newspaper with circulation of 15,000 or less.
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