It was a little surreal spending time in the United States last week amid the controversy over using the term “concentration camps” to describe the migrant detainment facilities along America’s southern border. The issue started when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the rookie Democratic congresswoman, wrote on social media, “The U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are… If that doesn’t bother you … I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something.”
The backlash was swift, with both Yad Vashem and the U.S. Holocaust Museum rejecting her comparisons outright. Meanwhile, cable news stations were having a field day with the story, as ideologues from across the political spectrum pontificated. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, we might at least agree that the politicization of the Holocaust is completely inappropriate.
Thankfully, I was in the U.S. for happier reasons, attending the annual conference of the American Jewish Press Association in St. Louis, Mo., and the Simon Rockower Awards ceremony, where The CJN took home three prizes. Barbara Silverstein won first place for excellence in writing about food and wine for her December 2018 cover story on the revival of traditional Jewish foods. (“I knew this story had potential when I read (the phrase) ‘glorified stoner food’ in the second paragraph,” one judge remarked.) Michael Fraiman was awarded second place in the feature writing category, and we picked up another first place prize for excellence in editorial writing as well.
Closer to home, The CJN has been winning awards, too. Last month, the Ontario Community Newspaper Association, representing nearly 250 publications across the province, revealed the winners of its annual Better Newspapers Competition. The CJN won eight prizes in total: Paul Lungen, Ron Csillag and Michael Fraiman garnered first place awards for best feature, best news story and best heritage writing, respectively. In addition, Lila Sarick won third place in education writing, and our team took second place in the best front page and special sections categories, along with a third place in editorial writing.
Quite the haul – and that’s without even mentioning the three awards we also recently won at the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards: third place in feature series, and first place in national editorial and holiday
These awards are a testament to the monumental efforts of the writers, editors, designers and salespeople who put this paper together week in and week out (except for next week, when we take our annual summer break). It’s also a tribute to our readers, who demand a high level of quality from this publication.
Now it’s time to hand out awards of our own. The third CJN Prize competition is underway, open to Canadian Jewish writers ages 18 to 29. Essays should be 500 to 1,000 words on a Jewish theme, submitted by email to [email protected] no later than Friday, Sept. 6. First prize takes home $1,800; second through fifth places also win cash rewards ranging from $900 to $180. So get cracking – or if you’re over 30, let the young‘uns know about it. Happy summer writing.