Southern Jewish Life received three national Rockower Awards for journalistic excellence

AJPA President Alan Smason of Crescent City Jewish News announces the Rockower Awards results, July 11 at the National World War II Museum.

Southern Jewish Life magazine once again picked up multiple awards in the 42nd annual Simon J. Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism.

The regional publication with offices in Birmingham and New Orleans received three awards in what is regarded as the “Jewish Pulitzers.” The Rockowers were presented on July 11 at the American Jewish Press Association annual convention in New Orleans, and this year the Rockowers set a new record for most entries.

Southern Jewish Life received first place in Excellence for Writing About Sports for “From the Plains to the Promised Land: Auburn Basketball in Israel,” coverage of the Auburn university basketball team’s groundbreaking trip to Israel in August 2022. The coverage was written by editor Larry Brook.

Richard Friedman won second place in Excellence for Writing About Health Care for “Fighting for their Lives,” his profile of Morissa Ladinsky, co-leader of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Youth Multidisciplinary Gender Health Team, where she is challenging new Alabama laws restricting treatment of youth who have gender dysphoria. The piece also had a sidebar with the experiences of a transgender male who grew up in a very small Southern Jewish community.

SJL also received second place among all publications for Excellence in Editorial Writing, for “You are the enemy,” about the lack of outrage when an official with a Muslim self-described civil rights organization referred to most American Jews and mainstream Jewish organizations as “the enemy”; “Say goodbye to the Presbyterian Church (USA),” about how the Jewish community should cut off contact with the church because its obsessive anti-Israel activism has crossed the line into overt antisemitism, and “Now what, ADL?” for its admission that its longtime No Place for Hate curriculum for schools had veered off a mainstream path and became “mis-aligned” with ADL’s values, seemingly confirming accusations of critics in Mountain Brook schools the previous year.

For most categories, Southern Jewish Life competes in a division with monthly newspapers and magazines, many of which are national in scope, such as Moment, Hadassah, Lilith and the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action. The editorial award was combined into one division with all publications, including weeklies, wire services and online sites.

This brings Southern Jewish Life’s cumulative total to 25 Rockowers, having received four last year.

The Forward led the night with 32 Rockowers, while the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles tallied 21. Among magazines, Moment and Jewish Currents each received 15.

In the region, the St. Louis Jewish Light received four awards. The Jewish Herald-Voice of Houston received three, while the Jewish Observer of Nashville and the Atlanta Jewish Times each received two. Additionally, Dave Schechter received second place for Best Freelancer, with pieces for the Atlanta Jewish Times as part of his submission.

The conference was co-hosted by Crescent City Jewish News, headed by AJPA President Alan Smason, and Southern Jewish Life. Smason presented Brook with a Volunteer of the Year award for his work on the convention.

Next year’s convention is tentatively set for Nashville.