In last week’s edition, we published an article about our editor Elizabeth Kratz winning what is known in Jewish journalism as the Simon Rockower Award, for an article she wrote last July.
For those who don’t know or didn’t read the article last week, the Rockower Awards are sponsored by the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA), of which The Jewish Link has been a member since our early years. The AJPA is the main and only nonprofit professional association for the English-language Jewish press in North America and its membership consists of Jewish media outlets, individual Jewish journalists and media-related organizations throughout the United States and Canada. These awards are the closest thing the Jewish media world has to the vaunted Pulitzer Prize and hence, are fondly known as the “Jewish Pulitzers.”
This award represents the first time that our relatively young paper has ever received a Rockower and winning it made me really happy, not only for Elizabeth, who deserves all of the recognition and then some, but also for us and our paper for reaching this milestone.
While thankfully I and The Jewish Link are slightly past the stage of needing regular validation and affirmation about how important our paper is to our fast growing and dynamic community and readership, we have not received that much recognition from our peer publications in the Jewish media world near and far...nor have we really sought it out, to be honest.
When I first started the paper, I wasn’t 100 % sure if we should even join the AJPA. I wasn’t fully convinced of the benefits or if we really needed to be part of it. In addition, I have long noted that a decent number of the Orthodox publications are not AJPA members. However, I made the decision to not only join but to also attend the annual AJPA conference as often as I could, so I could network with other Jewish publishers and editors and get a sense of what other Jewish publications were doing across North America. As a novice publisher, I felt I had nothing to lose and could only gain. I would learn and network and better understand what other Jewish publications were doing well and what was working and what wasn’t working. And that’s exactly what I did.
When I attended my first conferences, I learned a lot, networked pretty aggressively and met and heard from many of the nation’s leading Jewish journalists, editors and public figures of our day. It was also a distinct pleasure to meet so many of the larger national and Israel-based advertisers and agencies that I work with on a weekly, if not daily, basis but would rarely see in person more than once a year or so. It was also a chance to talk up The Jewish Link and make sure that the national and international Jewish media, influencers and advertisers knew who we are and who we are reaching. In short, every year I had a great time and I strongly believe that our AJPA involvement was—and continues to be—all positive. I am looking forward to future in-person AJPA events.
However, one thing that was so striking to me then—and still is today—was how the vast majority of the community Jewish publications across North America are almost uniformly struggling with declining readership and weaking community ties vis-a-vis the younger generation of Jews. Thank God, our fast growing and dynamic community and readership does not have these exact issues. At times, I felt like I was working in an alternate universe as my fellow publishers and editors complained vociferously about shrinking subscriber bases and weakening communities.
And every year, the highlight and centerpiece of every AJPA conference was the Rockower Awards dinner on the last night, when the awards were announced and
presented. Each year I attended, it was downright painful for me to sit through every award category and stare at my long-finished dinner plate while other publications and authors were called up to receive awards. Although this year’s AJPA conference and awards dinner were both virtual, I am happy to tell you that the fact that I knew we were in the running made the whole event much more bearable and pleasant...and it really was a joyful moment for me to hear and see that we won, finally, a Rockower award.
On a certain level, the Rockower award represents that we have now fully entered the ranks of the leading national Jewish publications. Winning this award doesn’t really affect or impact us much on a daily or weekly basis, but I believe it sends a message to all who know about us, and who read our paper, and who work at our paper, that The Jewish Link is strong, thriving, and growing with the rest of our community, and now, finally, an award winning paper as well! Kein Yirbu, I say! We look forward to hopefully winning many more in the years ahead!
By Moshe Kinderlehrer