Announcing the Winners of the 2022 Jewish Scholastic Journalism Awards

Announcing+the+Winners+of+the+2022+Jewish+Scholastic+Journalism+Awards

A story about diversity and combating racism in The Lion’s Tale at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School has won the top prize at the 2022 Jewish Scholastic Journalism Awards, JSPA announced Tuesday.

The Grand Prize in Jewish Scholastic Journalism was awarded to “A Clear Conscience? Examining the racial biases of CESJDS and the greater Jewish Community” by Mischa Trainor, Rochelle Berman and Ellie Fischman of The Lion’s Tale, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, of Rockville, Md. Along with their prize, the winners will receive a recommendation from the American Jewish Press Association for a summer internship at a professional Jewish news source.

The story also won First Place in the competition’s News Reporting on Jewish Communities category.  There were 10 categories in the competition, with the Grand Prize was chosen from among the first-place winners.

“A characteristic of going to a predominantly white school is that students do not have the same kind of exposure to racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity that other American students do,” the story states. “Though it does not stem from a place of blatant hatred, this lack of exposure can contribute to general ignorance towards those whose demographics differ from those of the typical JDS student.”

Judges called it “a searing look at racial inequities in the Jewish community and at the CESJDS school, including the school’s attempts to remedy the curriculum.”

The awards were announced at the conclusion of the 2022 Jewish Scholastic Journalism Conference, held virtually on March 15.  Winners were announced by JSPA board officer Susan Freudenheim on behalf of a judging team that included Ms. Freudenheim, former Executive Editor of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles; fellow JSPA board officer Kathleen Neumeyer, retired longtime adviser to the Harvard-Westlake Chronicle; Jen Bladen, adviser to the award-winning Harvard-Westlake yearbook Vox Populi; and Leila Miller, Mexico City correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

Students from a record 14 schools and 17 publications submitted 145 entries in all.  The Boiling Point at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles led all winners with seven awards; The Lion’s Tale won five; Palette at Atlanta Jewish Academy won three. Other winners were Frisch News Network at Yeshivat Frisch (Paramus, N.J.), Helios at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School (New York City), RampageWired at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (Overland Park, Kans.), The Milken Roar at Milken Community High School (Los Angeles), The Rampage at Ramaz Upper School (New York City) and the Roar Post at Scheck Hillel Community School (Miami, Fla.).

“Most important to me, as a journalist and judge, is that the quality of the JSPA contest entries continues to rise year after year,” Freudenheim said at the awards presentation. “This year’s entries were exemplary, making the judging especially challenging – and gratifying for the four of us.”

This year’s contest had 10 categories, ranging from news and feature writing to opinion, photojournalism, video and page design.  All of the categories and winners are below.

Here are all the winners, with judges’ comments:

 

2022 Grand Prize in Jewish Scholastic Journalism:

“A Clear Conscience? Examining the racial biases of CESJDS and the greater Jewish Community” by Mischa Trainor, Rochelle Berman and Ellie Fischman, The Lion’s Tale,  Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.

Judges’ Remarks: This piece rises above all others for its depth, insightfulness and general good reporting. Excellent work. 

 

Category 1: News reporting on Jewish communities, religion, education, institutions, activism, culture, leaders or personalities. 

FIRST PLACE

“A Clear Conscience? Examining the racial biases of CESJDS and the greater Jewish Community” by Mischa Trainor, Rochelle Berman and Ellie Fischman, The Lion’s Tale,  Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.

Judges’ remarks:  A searing look at racial inequities in the Jewish community and at the CESJDS school, including the school’s attempts to remedy the curriculum; great reporting and lots of good interviews on a topic that’s often difficult to write about in a critical and sensitive way. Very important work. As one juror said aloud while reading it, “Wow. Wow. Wow.”


SECOND PLACE

“Roen Salem, who found beauty in stray objects and sparked students’ creativity, has died at 76.” by Benjamin Gamson, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School

Judges’ remarks: This is a model obituary, fully exploring the beauty of a life. It includes the details of the person’s life and death, cause of death, survivors and plans for a memorial, and it uses many quotes from students and faculty and alumni who remember her. A touching portrait that drives home Roen’s impact on her community.


THIRD PLACE

“Vaccine mandate takes effect for most students 16 and up”, by Juliet Wiener, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School

Judges’ remarks: Very thorough reporting that takes us through the ins and outs of a controversial decision, told through a Jewish lens.

 

Category 2: Feature reporting on Jewish communities, religion, education, institutions, activism, culture, leaders or personalities

FIRST PLACE

“A Peek inside the Closet: Four LGBTQ+ Students Describe Their Experiences” by Sivan Livnat, Palette, Atlanta Jewish Academy

Judges’ remarks: Very sensitive treatment of a delicate subject in the Modern Orthodox context, including multiple unnamed voices talking frankly about their experiences at school and in the community. A thorough and important piece.

 

SECOND PLACE

LGBTQ+ In Ramaz and Its Policies.” by Charlotte Kleeger, The Rampage, Ramaz Upper School

Judges’ remarks: A well reported feature on an important and evolving part of school life, with multiple points of view, and context from other schools

 

Category 3: News and feature reporting on current events involving Israel

 

FIRST PLACE

“Coming to America: Morah Tali and Moreh Eilon on their Motivation for Becoming Schlichim” by Matthew Minsk, Palette, Atlanta Jewish Academy

Judges’ remarks: A good look at the slichim exchange programs from both the Israeli and American points of view. Nice reporting that conveys clearly why the subjects wanted to be schlichim.

 

SECOND PLACE

“Former VP of Ramaz Finally Elected President of Something (Israel)” by Aviva Schilowitz,  The Rampage,  The Ramaz Upper School

Judges’ remarks: Excellent work finding the connection between international news and one’s own school. The headline and the story have a touch of wit, while still taking the subject seriously.

 

Category 4: News or feature reporting on interreligious or intercultural events

FIRST PLACE

 “Town Hall offers a view of what it’s like to be Orthodox Jews who are Black” by Molly Litvak, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School

Judges’ remarks: In light of Black history month, and in the wake of BLM protests, very thoughtful report on two zooms at Shalhevet, with black Jews and black staff at the schools. Clean coverage of a news event.

No other awards in this category

 

Category 5: Ongoing reporting on any subject in Category 1, 2, 3 or 4. Ongoing reporting means at least two stories on two different days, covering a story that is evolving with additional facts or occurrences.

 

FIRST PLACE

“Hotel or housing? City Planning Commission deciding future of key intersection tomorrow.”  and

“Housing wins out as Planning Commission votes down ‘Soro Hotel.’” by Joshua Gamson, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School

Judges’ remarks: Excellent two-part coverage of a topic of great interest to the immediate community of Shalhevet. Thorough package that includes voices of all the actors involved.

 

SECOND PLACE

“Knee-Deep in Dress Code Enforcement Policy.” and “Altered Skirt Enforcement: Explaining the Shift in Skirt Implementation”,  by Daliya Wallenstein  and Sivan Livnat, Palette, Atlanta Jewish Academy

Judges’ remarks: Exhaustive reporting from students and faculty on the dress code for girls’ skirts, covering the challenges in consistency, the emotional impact on the girls, and the ultimate resolution on enforcement. This is a story that clearly would resonate with many students and teachers at the school. Nice work covering all the nuances of the debate.

 

Category 6: Non-first-person opinion on any Jewish or Israel-related story. This category would encompass unsigned editorials

FIRST PLACE

“Masks work. We should know.” by Benjamin Gamson, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School

Judges’ remarks: Excellent commentary on mask wearing at school and problems with compliance. Well-reasoned, based on direct experience as a jumping off point. 

 

SECOND PLACE

“‘Unorthodox’: Is It the Single Story of Orthodox Judaism?” by Maya Ziv, The Milken Roar, Milken Community High School

Judges’ remarks: A smart commentary on the dearth of in-depth portrayals of Jews in the media and a commentary on how this one good show can nevertheless need more context, and other stories to amplify the whole picture. This review does a good job identifying both the weaknesses of a film and what makes it valuable.

 

THIRD PLACE

Editorial: “Spread Love.” by Lion’s Tale Staff, The Lion’s Tale, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

Judges’ remarks: This clearly written and persuasive editorial includes strong and well-reasoned arguments for respecting LGBTQ+ rights.

 

Category 7: First-person opinion or first-person experience regarding Judaism, Jewish culture or identity, or Israel, or any Jewish or Israel-related story

TIED FOR FIRST PLACE

“What It Means to be Black and Jewish in 2021.” by Tyler Johnson, RampageWired, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

Judges’ remarks: An honest commentary on an important topic, considering current politics from the distinct point of view of a Black, Jewish man, written with passion and with intelligence, making an argument for the collective good.

 

TIED FOR FIRST PLACE

 “Town Hall missed opportunity to address anti-Asian hate” by Tomomi Shaw
The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School

Judges’ remarks: A very brave and thoughtful essay on the current rash of anti-Asian hate, written in first person by an Asian-American Jew, with good context and feeling. The piece makes its case persuasively, sharing personal experience.

 

 

SECOND PLACE

“Deficiencies in Heschel Israel Curriculum Exposed in Encounter Encounter” by Charlie Lebwohl, Helios, Abraham Joshua Heschel High School

Judges’ remarks: A smart, thoughtful critique of a school program that focused on life for Palestinians; the piece convincingly explores how a lack of follow-up programing may explain why the school’s initiative didn’t resonate with students.

 

Category 8: Photojournalism: Photograph attached to any Jewish or Israel-related story

FIRST PLACE

“Set-ting New Standards for HBHA Athletics with Girls Volleyball” by Tyler Johnson, RampageWired, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

Judges’ remarks: A strong, very active picture of students mid-play that captures the energy of the moment and the team’s excitement.

No other awards in this category

 

 

 

Category 9: Layout, design, illustration or infographic attached to any Jewish or Israel-related story, one page or multiple pages

FIRST PLACE

“A Lost Year – Q&A with an ethicist & an epidemiologist” by Maya Preuss and Noah Hoch, The Lion’s Tale, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

Judges’ remarks: Great opening picture and layout with engaging graphics and use of color to draw in the reader.

 

 

SECOND PLACE

“A clear conscience? Examining the Racial Biases of CESJDS and the Greater Jewish Community” by Maya Preuss, The Lion’s Tale, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

Judges’ remarks: Great use of graphics and layout to keep the eye engaged, along with captivating use of drawings and silhouettes.

 

 

Category 10: Video or podcast reporting of any Jewish or Israel-related story

TIED FOR FIRST PLACE

“Chanukah 5782 Newscast.” by Tzofiya Pittinsky, Rebecca Kieffer, Ari Katz, Avi Friedman and Jarrett Lazarus, Frisch News Network, Yeshivat Frisch

Judges’ remarks: Very fun and informative multi-part news report that captures vibrant school life through Frisch’s Chanukah festivities, including a lot of fast-paced energy and good presentation, amid varied settings.

 

 

TIED FOR FIRST PLACE

“Shalhevet faces YULA in baseball, May 16, 2021” by Jacob Hoenig, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School

Judges’ remarks: Excellent coverage of a game with a neighboring school, including good visuals and capturing the excitement of the game. Good storytelling, that left the viewer excited about the game’s outcome, and yet gave a feeling of competition, while also respecting both teams’ efforts. Great use of dramatic music and shots of players that get viewers invested in the game.

 

SECOND PLACE

“Humans of Hillel Podcast – Aton Ben-Horin” by Jacob Goldshtein, The Roar Post, Scheck Hillel Community School

Judges’ remarks: A thorough interview with an alum of the school that helps students understand this professional’s work and could inspire students to follow their dreams. Doing these interviews in this format is a very good use of the podcast, and the interviewer clearly has done his homework in preparation.