Students from Memphis, Los Angeles, Florida and New York win 3rd annual Jewish journalism contest for students


Students from Cooper Yeshiva High School in Memphis won two awards at the 3rd Annual Conference and Shabbaton of the Jewish Scholastic Press Association.

Judges chose three First Place winners and two Honorable Mentions in the Third Annual Jewish Scholastic Journalism Awards, announced  at the annual conference and Shabbaton of the Jewish Scholastic Press Association Feb. 27 at Bnai David-Judea Congregation in Los Angeles.

Rafi Margolies of Cooper Yeshiva High School  for Boys in Memphis and Deena Abittan of Manhattan High School for Girls in New York City tied for first place in Writing, while Michelle Hirschhorn of Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles won first prize in Design.

Honorable mentions were awarded in writing to Bailey Frohlich, of Yeshiva High School in Boca Raton, Fla.,and Tani Finkelstein of Cooper Yeshiva High in Memphis.

All four writing prizes were awarded for first-person opinion stories, although there were news and feature entries on a variety of Jewish topics. Judges were Jewish Journal reporters, and first prize is an internship at the Jewish Journal or at a Jewish publication closer to where the winner lives.

Rafi’s article, titled “A Jew Is A Jew,” was published in the CYHSB Weekly Feb. 6, and celebrated the creation of a new pluralistic davening space at the Kotel, or Western Wall, in Jerusalem.

“Fifty-three percent of American Jewry aligns with either Reform or Conservative Judaism,” wrote Rafi. “That is nearly a quarter of world Jewry. That number is way too big for Israel, the center of Judaism, to not formally recognize their beliefs regarding prayer.”

Deena Abittan won for a story titled, “An American Jewish Holiday,” published last Nov. 25 in the online magazine Fresh Ink for Teens.  It is an investigation into the holiday’s history both in American Judaism and in her own family.

Deena’s father, she said, found a pamphlet titled “Minchat Todah, Service for Thanksgiving Day,” published by the Sephardic Congregation of Long Beach, N.Y.  Among its contents were Hallel, Rosh Hodesh prayers, Psalm 100, and the prayer said today for the American government.

“Halacha, or Jewish law, prohibits the recitation of unnecessary prayers,” Deena wrote. “Clearly, the rabbis of this congregation viewed Thanksgiving as an important national, and Jewish, celeberation that warranted the extra prayers.”

June 2015 Boiling Point center spread
Essays and photos by seniors traveling through Poland and Israel were arranged on three pages by Michelle Hirschhorn of Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles, who won first prize for Design.

Michelle Hirschhorn created a layout for stories and photos describing Shalhevet seniors’ reactions to experiences Poland and Israel,.


Bailey Frohlich’s article, “Does Security Trump Civil Liberties,” appeared in Fresh Ink for Teens, while Tani Finkelstein’s, titled “Humility: The Key to the Life of a Jew,” appeared in the CYHSB Weekly.

The winners were selected from 32 entries from 10 different schools, including the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in Hewlett, N.Y.; Milken Community High School in Los Angeles; Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Encino, Calif.; Scarsdale High School in New York; Bruriah High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey; the Goldie Margolin School for Girls in Memphis; and Yeshivat Kadima in St. Louis, in addition to the schools of the winners.

Judging was carrried out by Jewish Journal reporters while students were attending the Third Annual Conference and Shabbaton of the Jewish Scholastic Press Association, where workshops were presented on topics ranging from how to find news and feature stories in the Torah to 21st-century sports reporting, layout training and what it was like to cover the controversy over the Iran deal last summer.

The conference is co-sponsored by Shalhevet, B’nai David-Judea, the Jewish Journal and the American Jewish Press Association, umbrella group for professional Jewish newspapers  throughout the U.S.  AJPA officials will inform papers local to the winners to facilitate the internship.