NYHS Mane Idea wins grand prize at JSPA conference


The Mane Idea

At the Jewish Scholastic Press Association conference in New York in March, the NYHS Mane Idea won three awards, including JSPA’s grand prize.

Five members of The Mane Idea newspaper staff and adviser Emily Alhadeff spent three days at Columbia University for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) conference, where they participated in journalism skills workshops with teens from around the country.

“I feel like [the workshops] were meaningful to the staff because it taught us a lot about improving our writing and editing skills,” said Mane Idea staff writer Leah Gonzalez.

The staff spent a lot of time exploring the city. They visited Tablet Magazine, where they met Stephanie Butnick, the deputy editor and cohost of Tablet’s podcast, “Unorthodox.” “Going to Tablet was an incredible experience because we got to see a professional newspaper in action,” said Jenna Kaufthal, Mane Idea editor in chief.

Over Shabbat, they attended a JSPA Shabbaton along with Shalhevet from Los Angeles and Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy from Overland Park, Kansas. The group visited several synagogues on the Upper West Side, including the Sheareath Israel Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, the Lincoln Square Synagogue as well as the Jewish Center.

At the JSPA awards ceremony at Shabbat lunch at the Lincoln Square Synagogue, NYHS staff learned that they had won two first place awards and the contest’s grand prize.

Mane Idea staff writer Eliana Menashe (class of 2022) won first place for News or Feature Reporting on Interreligious or Intercultural Events for her article, NYHS seniors forge bonds with Ukrainian Jewish orphans, about the senior class trip to Romania last spring, where they volunteered at a Jewish orphanage that had to relocate from Ukraine because of the Russian invasion. “I was really happy to see that this specific article that I wrote won, because I think that the Romania trip is something that our class is very passionate about, and it’s a message and something we want to share,” Menashe said. “So I feel grateful … that it can reach more people.”

Harrison Feld, class of 2022 and the former editor in chief of The Mane Idea, which he revived in 2020 with fellow student Shoshana Behar, received the first place award for feature reporting on Jewish Communities for his article Why does NYHS have no formal Holocaust education? His article also received the overall JSPA grand prize.

According to the judges’ notes, the article “perfectly exemplifies a number of notes that we were looking for from all works submitted: it’s well written, a bit unexpected in it’s [sic] content, and it looks deeply at the pluses and minuses of its topic.” The story was also noteworthy because it critiqued the school’s own educational policy.

“I’m really grateful to have won, and I hope that many, many more awards are earned by The Mane Idea in the future,” said Feld.

Both Feld and Menashe said they were not expecting this. The contest included submissions from the calendar year 2022, so students who graduated last year could win. “I’m just really happy to see that the newspaper’s continuing even stronger, now that it’s not really so inaugural anymore,” said Feld.

Joelle Keene, Director of JSPA, is excited that The Mane Idea won an award after just three years of being a newspaper. “I hope your success is an inspiration to Jewish schools,” she said.

Feld and Menashe also shared how exciting it is to still feel a connection to The Mane Idea even after graduating. “It functions as a real history piece of the school,” said Feld. “And now, when it continues for years to come, it’s really cool that you’re always going to be a part of that.”



This story was originally published in The Mane Idea on April 19, 2023.