Award-winning columns


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.

2014

♦ Second place for the Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary, for this website marlaecohen.com (category: circulation 15,000 and up)

east ramapo protest

How we define community

Early in the summer, Rev. Weldon McWilliams IV along with 25 others, walked into Rockland Kosher Supermarket, tucked behind the intersection of Routes 59 and 306, and bought groceries.
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menurkey

Turkey and latkes meet for a once-in-a lifetime mashup

I had already had enough of Thanksgivukkah and its menurkeys (that’s a menorah shaped like a turkey for you blissfully uninitiated) when I saw the bourbon pecan pie adorned with Chanukah gelt. This was supposed to be yet another recipe merging the Chanukah and Thanksgiving traditions, but really it was just a pecan pie with
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steven van zandt

Tel Aviv is not Sun City

When I was working my first post-college job in the library of the Dallas Morning News, I had more papers at my disposal than anyone in the pre-internet era would have known what to do with. As I did my work, filing and cross-filing clips and attending to back-end content of one of the first
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♦ Second place for Excellence in Single Commentary (category: circulation 15,000 and up)

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What shuls can learn from shoes

I purchased a pair of boots from Zappos.com, the online retailer, but they just weren’t right. I wanted to return them, but I also wanted to check out another pair of boots. Complicating what could have been a straightforward exchange was that I had initially paid through Paypal, which charged my American Express card, and
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2013

Just one minute

Just one minute

More than 48,000 people can’t be wrong. Can they? Apparently the International Olympic Committee (IOC) thinks so. Its president, Jacques Rogge, delivered that message in the form of a resounding “no” to Israel’s request for a minute of silence in memory of the Munich 11 at the London Olympics this summer. Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister
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Not so different, yet worlds apart

Not so different, yet worlds apart

When I was growing up, I remember going to SMU homecoming football game against the University of Texas. We were asked to” bow our heads in the name of Jesus Christ” and offer a prayer. I didn’t like it, and I didn’t bow my head; but I also did not bat an eye. This was,
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The canary in the coal mine

The canary in the coal mine

I had gone to Reuben Gittelman Hebrew Day School to give a talk to Fallon Coffield’s 8th grade social studies class. I spoke about my career in newspapers and magazines, gave a short overview of how you structure a news story and then let the students interview one another, write a lead for a profile
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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.

2011

drivers license2

When every breath counts

Corey Gradin needs new lungs. It’s not the usual thing to find on a 14-year-old’s wish list, but through the genetic luck of the draw, this is Corey’s lot. I only became acquainted with Corey recently, through Facebook, then email. She is funny and opinionated and writes like someone wise beyond her years. She shares
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These five days

These five days

This September, on the second day of Sukkot, JCC Rockland did something it had never done before. It opened for business. The way in which it did business was qualitatively different than a normal weekday. No money changed hands. The Fit Café was closed. The vending machines didn’t operate. There were no art programs, classes
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Neverpresent

Neverpresent

I walked into the conference late, during a lunch session. A rabbi was speaking to an audience about his human rights work and how he disseminates it via blogging. The crowd, Jewish newspaper and magazine types, were someplace else, however. Yes, they were in the room. But all of them were engaged in some other
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2009

Rain at the proper season

Rain at the proper season

My son Facebooked his cousin, Annie, a day before Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas coast to find out how it was affecting her and her family. He was excited in that way the weather announcer gets when a big storm is brewing. He sensed something big was about to happen. Annie, the child of
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The price of return

The price of return

In the middle of the summer, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser came home. They did not return to Israel in triumph. They came home in two black boxes. For two years, Jews everywhere had prayed for their return. They prayed and wished and hoped. Some added the names of other Israeli soldiers taken over time.
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Memories of my father

Memories of my father

Last Father’s Day I had a dad. This Father’s Day, I have memories. And I’ve been sorting through them ever since he died in January. My husband warned me that in morning minyan they might ask me to share some thoughts about my dad. Fortunately, this only happens on the yahrtzeit, which is seven months
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2007

Truth, justice and the Hasmonean way

Truth, justice and the Hasmonean way

“And what do you think was going on in the world that needed superheroes?” The docent’s question lingered in the exhibition room. Her charges, a group of high school kids visiting the Jewish Museum in Manhattan did what kids do when put on the spot. They looked at the ceiling, at their shoes, but not
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Remembering may have to be enough

Remembering may have to be enough

This past month, Karnit Goldwasser spent her first wedding anniversary without her bashert. Her beloved wasn’t there to celebrate with his bride. No champagne, no flowers, no romantic dinner. His whereabouts are unknown; his health and safety, a mystery. Thirty-four days of war couldn’t return Udi, as her husband, Ehud, is known, to Karnit. In
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Balancing on one foot

Balancing on one foot

When I got the email reminding me that there would be a second rally in New York on Sept. 17 to protest the genocide in Darfur, Katyusha rockets were raining down on northern Israel. I have to admit, I thought, who can think of Darfur now? And yet only a few months ago, it had
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