The Atlanta Jewish Times’ work in 2015 has earned three first-place awards in the American Jewish Press Association’s annual Rockower Awards, the AJPA has announced.

All three of the awards were earned by AJT contributor Dave Schechter:

  • The Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary for a selection of three of Schechter’s biweekly columns — “Which Israel Are You Talking About?”; “Not in My Lifetime”; and “Have You Lost Your Way?” — dealing with issues in Israel.
  • The Boris Smolar Award for Excellence in Enterprise or Investigative Reporting for “Bet Big or Fold,” an exploration of the potential effects of bringing casino gambling to Georgia. “Rather than simply waiting for the news, this deeply reported story gets way ahead of the news — exploring the Georgia casino issue from every possible angle, culturally, fiscally and morally,” the judges said. “And it issues a provocative challenge to a Jewish community that has traditionally opposed gambling on religious grounds.”
  • The Award for Excellence in Feature Writing for “After the Survivors,” an extensive report on how the memory of the Holocaust will be preserved and taught when no eyewitnesses remain. The judges wrote: “Dave Schechter dives deeply into a too-little-discussed issue: Who will bear witness when the witnesses are gone, when we’re left with stories told by those who heard them, not those who lived them? The article’s setup, Mr. Friedman’s recording session, slides smoothly into Professor Lipstadt’s cogent observation and, from there, into an insightful discussion of an issue to which the Jewish community outside of Georgia may not be paying enough attention.”

The Rapoport and Smolar awards were for newspapers with circulation of less than 15,000; the feature writing award covered newspapers with circulation of 7,500 to 14,999.

“I appreciate the recognition by the American Jewish Press Association and thank the management and editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times for the opportunity to write the articles that have been honored,” Schechter said.

He won a fourth first-place Rockower, the Jacob Rader Marcus Award for Journalistic Excellence in American Jewish History, for a piece the Forward published about his great-aunt, “How Solomon Schechter’s Daughter Became a Card-Carrying Communist.”

The Rockower Awards in 24 categories, recognizing the best work by Jewish print and digital media in 2015, will be presented at a banquet Nov. 15 in Washington during the annual conference of the press association.

“I’m thrilled that the American Jewish Press Association recognized Dave’s great work, especially his story on the coming world without Holocaust survivors, which I think was the most important thing we published all year,” AJT Editor Michael Jacobs said. “My only disappointment is that the judges in the history category didn’t recognize our work on the Leo Frank centennial.” The biggest part of the Frank coverage was another long-form article by Schechter.