Press Release: May 4, 2009

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Contact: Diane Tobin
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Media Awards Presented at Gathering of Racially and Ethnically Diverse Jews

San Francisco, May 4, 2009 - The 2009 Be'chol Lashon Media Awards were presented on Sunday, May 3, honoring excellence in coverage of Jewish ethnic diversity in print, broadcast/film and new media. In its second year and its first of open competition, the contest drew entries from around the world, including explorations of African, African-American, Latino, Asian and Arab Jewry. The winners, who each received $1,000, were:

  • Print: Anthony Weiss, The Obamas Have a Rabbi in the Family, The Forward – Discusses Rabbi Capers Funnye, an African American rabbi who is the cousin of First Lady Michelle Obama.

  • Broadcast/Film: Jocelyn Frank, Passover in Uganda, NPR – Explores the celebration of this Jewish holiday led by Rabbi Gershom Sizomu and the infusion of African tradition into Jewish ritual.

  • New Media: Cole Krawitz, Jen Chau Reflects on Her Work as a Change-Maker for Mixed Race Communities, J-Voices – Draws insights into the identities of the growing number of people with mixed race heritage.

  • Best of Show: Yasmeen Malik, My Path to Judaism: Converting While Keeping My Muslim Roots, Vox Teen Newspaper (Atlanta, Georgia) – A touching personal story of the spiritual journey that led to the author's conversion from Islam to Judaism.

  • "Narrowing down the entries was a challenge, but a wonderful one," said Robin Washington of Minnesota’s Duluth News Tribune and the contest chairman, who last year was the first recipient of the award for his 30 years of coverage of Jews of color in major U.S. newspapers and broadcast outlets.

    2009 Be'chol Lashon Media Award WinnersJudges included four journalists of color — Alexis Chiu of People Magazine, Courtenay Edehart of the Bakersfield Californian, Kevin Olivas of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Simone Weischelbaum of the New York Daily News — along with author Rebecca Walker and Temple University professors Jane and Lewis Gordon.

    The awards were presented at the largest annual gathering of diverse Jews from around the world. Jewish leaders from Uganda South Africa, Zimbabwe, Portugal, India and the United States and elsewhere met in San Francisco at a conference organized by Be'chol Lashon.

    "The entries showed the wide range of Jewish diversity and clearly elevate any discussion of Jewish ethnicity to an enlightened one encompassing every conceivable human color and condition," Diane Tobin said. Tobin is the director of Be’chol Lashon. She created the awards to help draw attention to diverse Jews and the important place they have among the Jewish people.

    Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue), a global initiative of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, grows and strengthens the Jewish people through ethnic, cultural, and racial inclusiveness.

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