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InterfaithFamily.com is a member of the American Jewish Press Association, which sponsors an annual conference and a journalistic competition, the Simon Rockower awards, every year. The staff at the AJPA let us know we would be receiving a Rockower Award months before I went to the AJPA conference in Chicago last week, but we didn’t know which item we’d submitted for consideration had won. Was it one of the two personal essays, Letting Go: A Lesbian Mom Brings Her Son to the Mikveh by Johanna Hammer or Back Talk by Alina Adams, or was it the website as a whole? No one on our team at IFF could decide. At first the Hammer piece was a heavy favorite, but when I asked the staff to bet on the day I left for the conference, we were evenly divided.
Everyone at IFF was very pleased to win the first place award for the best website. Here’s what they said about us:
We competed with other website-only publications; it was the second year the prize was awarded. It’s a big honor, since many of the journalists and publications that compete do innovative and creative work. It’s great that we won even before we finished the major revamping of our site. Wait until you see the social networking features we’re planning.
It was exciting to be at the AJPA conference in Chicago. (It was actually in the nearby suburb of Evanston, where the Northwestern University campus is.) We heard Rabbi Brant Rosen, the rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill., who spoke about widening the audience for the Jewish press. We also heard a panel discussion on Israel with Jonathan Schanzer of the Jewish Policy Center and Andrew Solow, the Chairperson of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (yes, that’s a real organization! It’s even been around for fifty years!) and the chair of the Jewish Community Centers Association.
One highlight of the event for me was the banquet at the Spertus Museum, but not for the reason you think. Spertus has an exhibit of African-American art that was created with the underwriting of the Julius Rosenwald Fund. It was great to see the exhibit and then to have a conversation about relationships between African-Americans and Jews with the publisher and editor of the Cleveland Jewish News, Michael Bennett. (I’m from Cleveland originally.)
I connected with a lot of really interesting people at the conference. The editor of Zeek gave me a copy of Siddur Sha’ar Zahav, the beautiful prayerbook of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco. I engaged in enjoyable kibitzing with the editors of CJ Voices of Conservative Judaism and I held forth a little at Sarah Evans‘ workshop on using social media. I’m one of a few active Twitterers among the journalists and editors who attended AJPA this year, and it was fun to share a little of why I think it’s been good for IFF for me to tweet and for all of us to be active on Facebook and other social media sites.
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