By Reporter staff
Rabbi Rachel Esserman, executive editor of The Reporter Group, won three Syracuse Press Club Awards this year. “This is the first year, I’ve won in more than one category,” Esserman said, “so this is very exciting.”
The articles that won awards are:
- Best Column: First place, “Being a chaplain, not a theologian” (found here).
- Best Critique: Second place, “Black and a slave, white and a Jew” (available here).
- Best Editorial: Honorable mention, “We lost a year” (read article here).
“The column and the editorial were very personal pieces,” Esserman said. “I was nervous about writing ‘Being a chaplain, not a theologian’ and am grateful for Shelley Hubal’s [executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton] encouragement. I spoke to her about the article and whether it was something appropriate for a Jewish newspaper. She said it was something she would like to read so I decided it was worth writing.”
“We lost a year” refers to people’s reactions to the pandemic. “I had some difficulty when, at the start of the pandemic, people were complaining about all they were missing,” she said. “There was nothing wrong with their doing that, but it raised emotions and issues from my past. The best way for me to deal with those was to write about them. The editorial helped me put what was occurring into perspective.”
Esserman noted that the book, Laura Arnold Leibman’s “Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family,” she reviewed in “Black and a slave, white and a Jew” was one of the most interesting books she read last year. “It offered information about a little known chapter of Jewish history,” she said. “It also featured a fascinating look at the way our identities are socially constructed. The book should be of interest to anyone who loves reading about Jewish history in the Americas.”
When discussing her writing, Esserman said that it’s her favorite part of the the job. “Writing helps me think about ideas and issues,” she added. “It’s made me a far better reader since I want to be fair to the authors whose books I review. But I also love playing with words. Rewriting is my favorite part: I love shaping the words and making the piece better. It’s extremely gratifying to receive an award for that work.”