NJJN staff writer Johanna Ginsberg is the winner of the 2014 David Twersky Journalism Award, established in memory of the newspaper’s late former editor.
The award — now in its third year — recognizes the work of journalists at The Forward and New Jersey Jewish News, the two publications where Twersky worked for nearly two decades.
Ginsberg’s winning entry was her two-part series, appearing last June, about the special bond and ongoing relationship between members of Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn and the poverty- stricken community of McRoberts, Ky.
“The judges’ mission was to find the one piece that David would have considered most remarkable,” said Amir Cohen, a colleague of Twersky’s during his tenure at both publications. Cohen founded the award in his friend’s memory and headed the judges’ committee. “Johanna’s piece is not only that but it also reminds me of the time David found out about the Paper Clips project in Tennessee months before anyone knew about it and back when they were struggling to get more than a few thousand paperclips. David dispatched a writer to Tennessee to cover it for the Jewish News. Reading Johanna’s piece, I had the exact same feeling I had when we first learned about Paper Clips.”
Starting in 1998, students at the Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee who were learning about the Holocaust set out to collect six million paper clips in order to conceptualize and memorialize the number of Jews killed in the Shoa.
In other award news, NJJN staff artist Dayna Nadel won first and second prize for Graphics & Illustration in the New Jersey Press Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Contest, for illustrations created for the front cover of the paper. A judge said of her first-prize entry, a photomontage illustrating a story about year-round activities by summer camps: “This was an excellent example of graphics telling a story. The headline gives context and the graphic work does the rest. Great job on concept, execution, and drawing the reader into the paper.” Nadel’s second-place win was for her “Thanksgivukka” cover depicting a turkey/shin on a dreidel.
In the category for best blogs, NJJN editor-in-chief Andrew Silow-Carroll earned a third-place citation for his blog, “JustASC.”
The David Twersky Prize, for journalism that appeared in The Forward and New Jersey Jewish News, specifies articles with a focus on Israel and/or concerning the local and global political issues Twersky cared most about. Twersky died in 2010 at age 60.
Judge Elana Kahn-Oren, former president of the American Jewish Press Association, praised Ginsberg’s series not only for its journalistic skill but also its significance in the Jewish world. “Johanna Ginsberg draws attention to a remarkable story of a congregation taking action and making real its commitment to heal the world. The depth, nuance, and compassion in her reporting should serve as a model to all those who seek to use journalism to shine a light on the human condition.”
Aside from Kahn-Oren, the judges’ committee included Twersky’s children, Anna and Michael, and Connecticut Jewish Ledger publisher Ricky Greenfield. “This two-week series is exactly the kind of journalism my father was most excited about, and it is no surprise the other judges — not just me — found it worthy of this year’s award,” said Anna Twersky.
“It was a privilege to read so many extraordinary pieces, and an honor to award Johanna Ginsberg this year’s prize in our father’s name,” said Michael Twersky. “Johanna worked at the Jewish News with him, and it is a special feeling to know that the award was won by someone he brought to the Jewish News.”