JNS made history this week at the American Jewish Press Association’s 38th annual Simon Rockower Awards by taking its first journalism honors.

JNS editor in chief Jonathan S. Tobin won two first-place awards, including the Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary and the Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Single Commentary.

The Rapaport Award is named for the late Jerusalem Post editor and author, and honors the top regular opinion columnist in Jewish journalism.

Tobin earned it for three of his columns published in 2018.

These included “Who Owns ‘Never Again’?” about the appropriation of the Holocaust remembrance slogan by advocates of gun control; “Religious freedom for me but not for thee?” about the refusal of Jewish organizations to support the rights of Christians; and “Swimming against the tide: The battle for Camp Ramah,” about efforts by anti-Zionist groups to infiltrate the Conservative movement’s summer-camp program.

Tobin won the Single Commentary award for his column, “What makes an intermarriage controversial?” about the debate over the marriage of an Israeli Jewish actor and an Israeli Arab journalist.

Actor Tzachi Halevy and news anchor Lucy Aharish. Credit: Instagram.

These were the first Rockowers won by JNS since its founding in 2011. They were Tobin’s 15th and 16th career Rockowers, and the 8th time that he has been recognized with the Rapoport award.

The honors were handed out during a banquet held during the AJPA’s annual conference, which took place from June 23-26 in St. Louis.

JNS was also recognized in two other journalism competitions.

Tobin finished third in the 2018 David Twersky Journalism Award named in honor of the late American Jewish editor and activist. The contest noted his column “The universalist impulse and Anne Frank” about the foundation named in honor of the Holocaust heroine and its current support for the New Israel Fund.

JNS managing editor Carin M. Smilk won first place in the online feature news category in the Pennsylvania Press Club annual journalism competition for “Grief into Action: Fundraisers, volunteering, Shabbat programs, even pet therapy, on Pittsburgh college campuses.” She won second place for the same story by the affiliated National Federation of Press Women, presented at the organization’s annual conference this week in Baton Rouge, La.

She also garnered an honorable mention in the religion category of the Pennsylvania Press Club contest for “Tapping into the ‘Golden Age’ of cantorial music for the 21st century,” an interview with Chabad rabbi and cantor Aryeh Leib Hurwitz.

Smilk has won more than a dozen writing and editing awards from media outlets, including the Pennsylvania Press Association, the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association, the Society for Professional Journalists and the American Jewish Press Association.

Cantor Aryeh Leib Hurwitz (left) at the Berliner Philharmonie in Germany, home of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, with a 70-piece orchestra. To his right is Michael Zukernik, conductor of the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra in Berlin.