Jewish Scholastic Press Association

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  • February 29Winners of the 2024 Jewish Scholastic Journalism Awards to be announced March 10

Jewish Scholastic Press Association

Jewish Scholastic Press Association

Announcing the Winners of the 2024 Jewish Scholastic Journalism Awards



An op-ed reflecting on being Jewish in the world after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack has won the top prize at the 2024 Jewish Scholastic Journalism Awards, in a record-setting year for the competition.

Announced via live webcast on March 10, 2024, the Grand Prize in Jewish Scholastic Journalism was awarded to “We are Alone”  by Maya Tratt, of Yeshivat Frisch in Paramus, N.J. in the school’s newspaper, The Paw Print.

Maya will receive a Grand Prize plaque along with a recommendation from the American Jewish Press Association for a summer internship at a professional Jewish news source.

“Discussions of politics, rage, and even tears are all viable responses but they can’t be the objective right now,” Maya wrote. “The objective needs to be to fortify and build, or rebuild, a sense of peoplehood that is prideful without being overconfident, faithful but not meek, and strong but not oppressive.”

The same story also won First Place for First-person opinion or experience regarding Judaism, Jewish culture or identity, or Israel, or any Jewish or Israel-related story. There were 10 categories in the competition, with the Grand Prize chosen from among the first-place winners.

Judges for the Grand Prize called the piece “a powerful and sobering precis on what it means to be a Jew and part of a Jewish community, post-Oct. 7.”

It was one of nearly 275 submissions to this year’s contest, which drew entries from dozens of Jewish day schools, secular and Christian private schools, and public schools across the United States. Work published by high school students during 2023 was eligible.

Tratt’s piece marked the first time in several years that the Grand Prize went to an opinion story rather than news or features. Other topics covered by students who entered the contest were rising antisemitism, responses to the Israel-Hamas War and Israeli political developments.

Judging was led by Susan Freudenheim, former managing editor of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and JSPA’s vice president. Ms. Freudenheim worked for 13 years at the Los Angeles Times as arts editor and staff writer, and most recently served as Executive Director of Jewish World Watch.

“This year’s 274 entries reflect the diversity of journalism more than any previous JSPA awards contest,”  Ms. Freudenheim said.

“The work our six jurors read was thoughtful, often provocative, and at its best extremely well written or produced, much of it covering the events this past year of Oct. 7 and the conflict that has followed. The jurors, all accomplished journalists, were challenged to decide on the best from these entries because so much of it was so well done.”

There were six judges in all. Ms. Freudenheim was joined by Gary Rosenblatt, JSPA board member and editor and publisher of The Jewish Week of New York from 1993 until June 2020; Emma Goss, staff writer at J the Jewish News of Northern California, and a freelance reporter for NBC Bay Area; Ryan Smith, a writer in the Office of Communications at Kenyon College, who was a reporter and editor for 25 years at newspapers including The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles; Jackson Krule, Senior Visual Producer of the Players’ Tribune and photojournalist known especially for his photos in the book American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York; and Orli Lowe, former assistant book editor of the Los Angeles Times.

Students from more than 30 schools submitted 274 entries in all. The Boiling Point at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles led all winners with 13 awards.

Other winners were students at Milken Community High School (Los Angeles), Atlanta Jewish Academy, the NYC Museum School, The Ramaz Upper School (New York City), Northwest Yeshiva High School (Seattle), Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (Rockville, Md.), De Toledo High School (Los Angeles), The Masters School (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.), and Richland Northeast High School (Columbia, S.C.).

In addition, teen fellows writing for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) received newly created  Judges’ Award for Work in Professional Publications.

Here are all the winners, with judges’ comments.


2024 Grand Prize in Jewish Scholastic Journalism

Chosen from among the first-place winners in the other categories.

We are Alone,” by Maya Tratt

The Paw Print, Yeshivat Frisch, Paramus, N.J.

Judges’ Remarks: A profound and beautiful essay that explores deep feelings of loss amidst a changing world.



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



Rising antisemitism altering seniors’ college plans,” by Irene Cohen.

The Phoenix, Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School

Jurors’ comment: This well-written article explores an important question for students currently applying to college, and it does so with clarity through multiple interviews and great analysis.


SECOND PLACE: Cast Off: What Happened to the Coed Musical” by Asher Lytton,

Palette,   Atlanta Jewish Academy,

Jurors’ comment: Strong reporting on an issue that explores the intersection of promises to students regarding art performance and halachic restraints.


THIRD PLACE:NYC Museum School Administration Fails to Distribute Jewish Student Union Statement on Hamas Attack in Weekly Newsletter, Cites DOE Regulations,” by Zachary Semple and Julia Hendler

The Gallery, NYC Museum School,

Jurors’ comment: A thoroughly reported and thoughtful piece.



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



FIRST PLACE: “Vogue Magazine finds something trendy in ‘Torah-Teacher aesthetic,” by  Tali Liebenthal

The Boiling Point – Shalhevet High School:

Jurors’ comment: A highly original and well-sourced article that that rips an unlikely topic from the headlines and runs with it, balancing a variety of well-considered viewpoints in the process.


SECOND PLACE:Am Yisrael Chai! How the Milken Community Is Affected by the War in Israel,” by

Tevelle Bitton, with additional writing and reporting by Noa Berrin, Isabella Green, Micah Green, Noa Karidi, Andrew Pakravan, and Tomer Zur

The Milken Roar,  Milken Community School

Jurors’ comment:  This comprehensive story uses a strong assortment of anecdotes and multiple angles to effectively convey the emotional state of a community during a tragic time. 


THIRD PLACE: A home for study, in carved wood and stained glass, by Mira Schulman

The Boiling Point,  Shalhevet High School

Jurors’ comment:  Beautifully written, this well-reported article paints a picture in the reader’s mind while providing all the nitty gritty details needed to understand the issues at hand.


Honorable Mention: 

Ramaz Students Take Action Against Food Insecurity, by Sara Kleinhaus
The Rampage –
The Ramaz Upper School:

Jurors’ comment:  An inspirational local story that raises student voices and illustrates the impact they can have. 



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



Joining The Fight,” by Tali Liebenthal, Sophie Katz, Caroline Khboudi and Benjy Kolieb.The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

Jurors’ comment: A vivid, riveting description of how carefree high school alums have taken on the responsibilities of literally defending the Jewish State.



Seattle Jewish Community Answering The Call To Defend Israel,” Jenna Kaufthal, The Mane Idea, Northwest Yeshiva High School, Mercer Island, Wash.

Jurors’ comment: Probing interviews reveal deep emotions of those called to war and those left behind.


SECOND PLACE: Political Divisions in Israel Trouble Students and Faculty,” by Sophie Katz, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

Jurors’ comment: This impressive piece of reporting explains the pros and cons of the proposed judicial reforms that split Israeli society and highlights how faculty as well as students are reluctant to speak out.


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



FIRST PLACE: Non-Jewish teachers say working at Shalhevet strengthens ties to their own religions,” by Mira Schulman, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

Jurors’ comment: This article showcased a diversity of religion among teachers at Shalhevet and showed a level of curiosity, depth of understanding, and breadth of coverage.


SECOND PLACE: Mercer Island Muslim and Jewish leaders work together against hate”  By Elianna Rothstein
The Mane Idea, Northwest Yeshiva High School, Mercer Island, Wash.

Jurors’ comment: This article showed excellence in writing, provided clear context of prior antisemitic acts, and reported on actions being taken by local leaders across faiths.


THIRD PLACE: Death of Masa Amini in Iran not a surprise to Iranian-Americans at Shalhevet” By Tali Liebenthal, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

Jurors’ comment: This article explained the impact of Masa Amini’s death on the local Iranian American Jewish community through thoughtful interviews with students and teachers, and context around events that occurred in Iran.




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: The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School

     Nazi flag appears on Fairfax fence between LACMA and Academy Museum, half-mile north of school, 

     LACMA fence swastika was an Iranian flag when viewed from opposite direction

     LAPD will investigate guerilla art installation until artist comes forward, offical says

Jurors’ comment: This series showcased a high level of journalistic skill, dogged reporting, and open-mindedness. It was also very impressive that the journalist was able to include quotes from law enforcement.


SECOND PLACE: The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

     With somber song, Shalhevet stops to absorb tragedy in Israel, Shalhevet buses students to attend energetic StandWithUs rally in Westwood

     JOINING THE FIGHT: From trainees to reservists, Shalhevet alumni suddenly called to war against Hamas, ‘Let us not forget’

     25 from Shalhevet join historic pro-Israel march in Washington, D.C.

     From Israel to Pico, Hamas terror flipped the switch on happiest holiday of the year

Jurors’ comment: This series provided a thorough timeline of Shalhevet’s reactions and emotions following Oct 7, and showed tremendous depth of coverage, and sensitivity to those interviewed. 


THIRD PLACE: The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

‘Extreme’ anti-Arab views of new Minister of Security strain support for Israel among some of its friends

Political divisions in Israel trouble students and faculty

Consul General says massive protests over possible judicial changes do not mean Israel needs a Constitution

Jurors’ comment: This series showcases excellent reporting on complicated political events in Israel, providing useful explanations and context to students, along with detailed reporting on the protests and local impact of Israel’s changing political landscape. 



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

FIRST PLACE: Hamas V. Humanity” by Tali Liebenthal

The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

Jurors’ comment: A clear-eyed distillation of the aftermath of Oct. 7, from an unapologetically Jewish and humanitarian perspective.


SECOND PLACE:When Journalism Goes Wrong,” by Tali Liebenthal

The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

Jurors’ comment: A high school newspaper takes a professional community newspaper to task over an article about a contested antisemitic incident at a high school basketball game, arguing the article only made matters worse.


THIRD PLACE: Lion’s Tale, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, “War on Words

Jurors’ comment: Accuracy, not speed, and a careful attention to language are the keys to telling the story of the Israel-Hamas war. 


Honorable Mention:  How Does a Pluralistic Jewish School Interact with Israel?” By Noa Karidi

The Milken Roar, Milken Community High School

Jurors’ comment: A thoughtful, well-researched and nuanced piece on how Zionism is taught and conveyed at a pluralistic Los Angeles high school.


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



FIRST PLACE: “We are Alone,” by Maya Tratt, The Paw Print, Yeshivat Frisch, Paramus, N.J.

Jurors’ comment: A powerful and sobering precis on what it means to be a Jew and part of a Jewish community, post-Oct. 7.


SECOND PLACE: “Uniting in the Face of Hate: D. C. Rally Brings Comfort to Thousands,” by Lila Kessler The Prowler, de Toledo High School,

Jurors’ comment: A trip to the Washington D. C. rally brings into sharp focus both rising antisemitism and the tactics to confront it.


THIRD PLACE: Understanding Terror: How We Must Condemn Extremism and Its Rhetoric,” by Dylan Glaser and Avi Zalkin

Tower, The Masters School

Jurors’ comment: A call for Western society to condemn Hamas and its actions as well as a call to combat the antisemitism that the authors argue is at the root of those who condemn Israel’s response to Oct. 7. 


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

No Award 

Juror’s comment: We saw few entries in this category and the category was not competitive. We strongly encourage more applicants next year.

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



FIRST PLACE: Eight-page special section,  The day the world changed,  Ezra Helfand and Eliana Wainberg, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

Jurors’ comment: The layout was extremely thoughtful in its minimalism, including photos within text and pull quotes, which supplemented the written elements and was effective in adding to the pieces without detracting from the words. The hand drawn map of Israel and QR code linking to IDF video was a nice touch as well.


SECOND PLACE: Solidarity beyond borders: How the Israel-Hamas war impacts the CESJDS community,” The Lion’s Tale, Charles E Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, Md.

Jurors’ comment: The layout is considered and easy to read. The graph is helpful in making visual the rise in anti-semitism. The overall layout helps give a focus to each article in a way that feels intentional.


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


FIRST PLACE: Rise of Antisemitism,” VideoRNE-TV Live, Richland Northeast High School

Jurors’ comment: Among the most impressive pieces of student journalism in this contest, including every element of the video, from how it was shot to the variety of people included; the host has the charisma of a seasoned journalist.


SECOND PLACE: The Talking Point: Season 3, “Episode 3: Devastating, hopeful and everything in between,” Podcast by Jonah Delson, Martzi Hirsch, Benjy Kolieb, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles

Jurors’ comment: The directness of the questions was excellent, as well as the podcast format overall – terse and to the point, yet thoughtful and informative, in a way that can be hard to achieve. 


Judges’ Award for Work in Professional Publications


Category 1

Denver Jewish Day School makes history on the basketball court

By Ami Gelman


For many Jewish teens, COVID broke the synagogue habit

By Arianna Hellman


The Conservative movement youth group was already struggling. Then came COVID.

By Ella Bilu


“‘I wanted to be more me’: Teens propel a trend  toward gender-neutral mitzvah ceremonies

By Shira Nathan



How students and teachers feel about AI in the Jewish classroom

By Abigail Rubinstein


What it’s like to be a Jewish teenager in a small town right now

Leia Ianovici


“‘Where do I stand?’ Queer Modern Orthodox teens navigate a changing world

By Nathaniel Hain


Fighting food allergies becomes another ritual at synagogues, schools and camps

By Maren Hettler


Teen people of color are finding, and building, their own spaces in Jewish life

By Isabelle Mondschein


How a youth hockey league is accommodating Shabbat-observant players

By Aviva Schilowitz



For American teens in Israel, the war brings lessons in resilience and caring

By Oliver Mason


“‘My worst nightmares’: Israeli teens’ mental health is tested in the first days of war

By Ella Bilu


With young adults off to war, Israeli teens are stepping up in their communities

By Daniela Gribetz


What 9 Jewish teens from across the US said they took away from marching for Israel in DC

By Ami Gelman and Daniela Gribetz



Converting to Judaism has defined my high school experience

By Maren Hettler


How a move to South Africa turned an American teen’s Jewish life upside down

By Hannah Boxall


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