J. The Jewish News of Northern California has won 11 awards in the annual Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism, including seven first-place awards. It is the most awards J. has received in any one year.
The American Jewish Press Association presented the awards June 25 at its annual conference, which this year was held in St. Louis. The awards were all for work published in 2018. The AJPA is a professional association for Jewish media in North America, and the Rockower awards have been presented for 38 years. J. competes in the category of mid-size publications.
“There has never been a more important time to report the news of our incredibly diverse Jewish community in the Bay Area,” said J. publisher Steve Gellman. “We are so proud of this recognition — it’s humbling to know that our work is also appreciated by our peers in journalism throughout the country.”
Alix Wall, J. contributing editor and Organic Epicure columnist, won three first-place awards. In the personality profiles category, she won for her moving portrait of James A. White, a prisoner serving a life sentence for murder who created a program that helped 1,500 inmates earn college degrees. In the category of food and wine, Wall took first place for her profile of Chef David Nayfeld of the Italian-Jewish San Francisco restaurant Che Fico; and in the category of writing about women she was recognized for her piece on musician Neshama Carlebach speaking about her famous father’s mixed legacy.
Culture Editor Laura Paull took home two first-place awards. In the category of arts reporting, she was recognized for her story on the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s 10th anniversary. And in the sports writing category, she won for her story on local Uruguayan Jews watching a key 2018 World Cup game — her first ever foray into sports writing.
Former J. copyeditor Shoshana Hebshi took first place in news reporting for one of her many pieces on Jewish community responses to North Bay wildfires. Freelancer and former J. staff writer Joe Eskenazi won a first place in the writing about U.S. Jewish history for his piece on the campaign to rename San Francisco’s Julius Kahn Playground because of the namesake’s support of anti-Chinese legislation in the early 20th century.
J. also won four second-place awards. J. Editor Sue Fishkoff was recognized for feature writing for her cover story on Bay Area Jews who voted for Trump. Staff writer Maya Mirsky was honored in the category of writing about seniors for her story about San Francisco’s dwindling population of “Shanghailanders,” European Jews who came to the Bay Area after spending World War II in Shanghai.
Two non-staff members also got second-place awards: East Bay filmmaker Yoav Potash in the personal essay category for “How I learned all Israelis are not my father” and David Waksberg, CEO of S.F.-based Jewish LearningWorks, in the single commentary category for his piece, “You know who else separated families trying to cross borders? The Soviets.”