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The 39th Annual Simon Rockower Award JUDGES

Michael E. Bennett

Michael E. Bennett, former publisher and editor of the Cleveland Jewish News, is vice president of external affairs for the Cleveland Leadership Center. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he worked in newspapers for 25 years before forging a career in nonprofits. He still enjoys his print subscriptions to several newspapers much more than their digital offerings.

David Brauer

David Brauer is a retired journalist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He's a former media reporter for, editor of the Southwest Minneapolis & Downtown Minneapolis Journals, reporter for two Twin Cities alt-weeklies, and a freelancer for Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune & Washington Post.

Lisa Brennan 

Lisa Brennan is a writer in Glen Ridge, NJ and San Gabriel, CA. She worked more than 25 years as a reporter in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York at various newspapers, magazines and online news outlets, including The Legal Intelligencer, American Lawyer, Bloomberg News News and others. Most recently, she does publicity for non-profits and is active in Bnai Keshet, a Reconstructionist community in Montclair, NJ.

Sharon Broussard

Sharon Broussard is the project manager for the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative based in Cleveland.  The collaborative is a partnership of 16 local news outlets that have banded together to write about solutions to long-standing regional problems. Last year, we focused on COVID-19. This year, we are focusing on economic recovery from COVID. 

Broussard is a former editorial writer for and The Plain Dealer.  She lives in Shaker Heights with her family. 

David Y. Chack

David Y. Chack is the Producing Artistic Director of ShPIeL-Chicago and Artistic Director of ShPIeL Identity Theatre Project/Louisville, KY. His most recent productions are “Teatron: Chicago’s Jewish Theatre Festival” and “Mother Courage and Her Children” in Louisville. His upcoming production that he is directing in Louisville is “Imagining Heschel” by Colin Greer, about the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. He is adjunct professor of “Holocaust Theatre”; “Jewish-American Performance”; “Identity Theatre” at The Theatre School at DePaul University, Chicago. He has also written numerous articles on theatre and advised/curated exhibitions including the first exhibition on "The Yiddish Theatre and New York Theatre" at the Museum of the City of New York.

Gary Cohn

Gary Cohn is a Pulitzer Prize winner and longtime investigative reporter. A reporter for more than three decades, Cohn has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at USC Annenberg for more than ten years. This past summer, he was one of the editors who helped lead Annenberg’s groundbreaking Beacon Project, which was aimed at teaching, training and inspiring the next general of investigative journalists.

Cohn has worked for the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Baltimore Sun, the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and for columnist Jack Anderson in Washington. He also served for two years as Atwood Professor of Journalism at the University of Alaska at Anchorage.

Cohn won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1998 and was a Pulitzer finalist in 1996 and 2001. His work has received numerous other prestigious journalism awards, including two Selden Ring Awards for investigative journalism, an Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) Medal, a George Polk Award for environmental reporting and two Overseas Press Club awards.

Cynthia Dettelbach

Cynthia Dettelbach was the first woman editor of the Cleveland Jewish News, and she served in that role for over 29 years. In her retirement she has been doing playwriting. Prior to the pandemic, several of her plays were produced at a small local theater company in Cleveland. During the pandemic several of her ten-minute plays have had dramatic readings over Zoom.

Jeff Diamant

Jeff Diamant is a senior writer and editor with the Pew Research Center, and a board member of the Religion News Association. Prior to that, he was an award-winning reporter for the Charlotte Observer and Newark Star-Ledger. He has a doctorate in U.S. religious history.

Dawn Fallik

Dawn Fallik is an associate professor at the University of Delaware who teaches STEM students how to communicate to the public. She was a full-time reporter for 15 years, most recently for the medical and science desk at The Philadelphia Inquirer. She continues to publish in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Neurology Today.  She has lived in 14 states including Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, California, and New York.

Thom Fladung

Thom Fladung is managing partner of Hennes Communications, one of the few firms in the United States focused exclusively on crisis communications and crisis management. Thom spent 33 years in newspaper newsrooms, and held lead editing positions at the Detroit Free Press, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Akron Beacon Journal and, most recently, served as managing editor of The Plain Dealer. Thom, a native of Canton, Ohio, is on the board of the Cleveland Press Club.

Jonathan Friendly

Jonathan Friendly was a reporter and editor for 27 years, including 17 years at The New York Times. He ran the master’s journalism program at the University of Michigan and was the news and national editor for Detroit Jewish News and Jewish Renaissance Media. Jonathan retired to Florida in 2000 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2022. He has been married for 61 years and has four children and six grandchildren.

Martin Golan

Martin Golan works as a journalist, a reporter and feature writer at several daily newspapers, and lastly as an editor at Reuters. His newest novel, One Night With Lilith – about a man convinced his wife is the alluring but dangerous Lilith of biblical legend – has just been published.

Roy Gutterman

Roy Gutterman is an associate professor of communications law and journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

David Hammer

David Hammer is an award-winning investigative reporter at WWL-TV, the CBS station in New Orleans.

He has won four Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards in the last six years, including three Emmys environmental reporting and one for investigative reporting.

Hammer also won a national Scripps Howard Award and an international beat reporting award from the Society of Environmental Journalists for uncovering the key engineering decisions that led to the BP oil disaster in 2010.

As a seventh-generation New Orleanian, Hammer’s mission is to help improve his community by holding area leaders accountable. His investigations have helped land several local politicians and businessmen in prison, including New Orleans’ mayor during Hurricane Katrina, Ray Nagin, and exposed millions of dollars wasted by government agencies in hurricane recovery programs, coastal restoration projects and the city’s outdated drainage system, to name a few.

His 15-year-old son is the first eighth-generation member of Touro Synagogue, one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the U.S.

Marcy R. Harris

Marcy R. Harris worked as a news and features reporter at a daily newspaper, as a reporter and writer at several magazines, and as a litigator, before retiring to serve as president of her synagogue.  She currently serves on the boards of several Jewish organizations and is an avid reader of the Jewish press.

Dr. Edward Horowitz

Dr. Edward Horowitz is an associate professor in the School of Communication at Cleveland State University, where he has taught since 2004. Dr. Horowitz teaches classes in journalism, political communication, communication technology, international communication, mass media effects, and mass media history. For 10 years he was the faculty advisor to Cleveland State’s weekly student newspaper, The Cauldron. He also is head of the university’s Polish Studies Initiative where he organizes lectures and presentation about Polish culture and current events, as well as bringing in professors from Poland to teach at CSU.

Deborah Kalb

Deborah Kalb is a writer, editor, and book blogger. She spent about two decades working as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for a variety of news organizations. Her book blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, which she started in 2012, features hundreds of interviews she has conducted with a wide variety of authors. She is the author of several books for children and adults.

Craig S. Karpel

Craig S. Karpel is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in such publications as Esquire, Harper’s Magazine, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Village Voice, New York, National Review, and The Wall Street Journal. He has interviewed such figures as Moshe Arens, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir, Natan Sharansky, Ariel Sharon, and Moshe Ya’alon. He has interviewed such personalities as Henry Kissinger, John Lennon, and Andrei Sakharov.

Karpel's articles have been published in periodicals including Baltimore Jewish Times, Hadassah Magazine, AMIT Magazine, B’nai B’rith Magazine, The American Zionist, Sh’ma Journal: A Journal of Jewish Ideas, The Jewish Digest, and Ma’ariv. He received the Boris Smolar Award for Excellence in North American Jewish Journalism for his article in B’nai B’rith Magazine entitled, “The Unseen Side of Arab-Jewish Relations.” His radio series Jerusalem Diary was broadcast on the BBC. He substituted for Ed Koch when the late former New York City mayor hosted a weekly program on 77 WABC Radio.

Karpel was privileged to count among his friends Louis H. Rapoport (1942-1991), the distinguished journalist, author, and senior editor of The Jerusalem Post in whose memory the Louis Rapoport Awards for Excellence in Commentary are awarded annually in the Simon Rockower Competition for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. He is a graduate of Columbia University, New York.

David Liam Kyle

Kyle is a nationally recognized photographer who has captured awe-inspiring images of landscapes, people, nature, news events, professional sports, and more in a career spanning over three decades. Kyle has seventeen years of photojournalism experience, winning numerous awards as a staff photographer with the Sun Newspapers. In addition, he has photographed more than 800 assignments for Sports Illustrated, covering MLB, NBA, NFL, PGA, and NCAA action, along with feature stories and portraits.

David has photographed over 1800 NBA games as the official photographer of the Cleveland Cavaliers since 1991 and a contract photographer for NBA Entertainment.  

His work is regularly displayed on ESPN, TNT,, NBA-TV, and shows such as "Pardon the Interruption," "Sports Nation," and "Sportscenter." In addition, his images have appeared in the "Year-in-Pictures" editions of Sports Illustrated, SLAM Magazine, several Sports Illustrated, and SPORT magazine covers, and the player coveted NBA 2K15 EA sports video game cover (featuring Kevin Durant). Sports Illustrated also selected his famous Penn State-Ohio State football action picture as one of "College Football's Top 150 Greatest Photos of All Time."

Jan Leach

Jan Leach is a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University.  She teaches media ethics, news-writing, public affairs reporting, copy editing and other courses and is director of KSU’s Media Law Center for Ethics and Access. She is an Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute for Journalism Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

In 2016, Leach was awarded the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. She also received the Distinguished Teaching Award for the College of Communication and Information in 2014. In 2018, Leach was a speaker and instructor at Zayed University in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In summer 2014, Jan taught media ethics in India as part of the U.S. State Department’s Speaker and Specialist Program.

Before joining the faculty at Kent State, Leach was editor and vice president of the Akron Beacon Journal for five years. During her tenure, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists named the Beacon Journal “Best Newspaper in Ohio” three times. Leach came to Akron from the Cincinnati Enquirer where she had been managing editor. She also was managing editor at the (now-defunct) Phoenix Gazette, city editor at the Arizona Republic, and held reporting and editing positions at other newspapers in Ohio.

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in media ethics from Kent State University. She is active in professional associations and community groups and has work published in newspapers, research journals and textbook chapters. She is a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Akron Press Club, the Cleveland chapter of SPJ and more.

Jonathan Make

Jonathan Make serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists D.C. chapter and plans chapter events, moderates and organizes panels. He also volunteers through various other journalism organizations including judging awards and is involved in Jewish congregations. In his day job, he is executive editor of newsletter publisher Warren Communications News, where he also occasionally writes about the media industry.

David L. Marcus 

David L. Marcus has worked as a foreign correspondent, education reporter and columnist at the Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Newsday and U.S. News. As the South America bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, he shared the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for a series about violence against women. Marcus wrote two books about education and parenting, What It Takes to Pull Me Through (Houghton Mifflin) and Acceptance (Penguin Press). His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, GQ magazine and other publications. David L. Marcus was an honors graduate of Brown University, he was also a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

Tom Mashberg

Tom Mashberg is a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, former investigative editor and Sunday editor at the Boston Herald, and frequent contributor to The New York Times and the Boston Globe.

Hugo Ottolenghi 

Hugo Ottolenghi is currently an instructor of communications and journalism at Florida International University. He teaches public relations, mass communications and journalism classes at the undergraduate and graduate level, and has worked with the university for 12 years. Hugo is a graduate from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has a master’s degree from the School of Media and Journalism.

Richard M. Perloff

Richard M. Perloff, Professor of Communication, Political Science and Psychology at Cleveland State University, is well-known for his scholarship on persuasion, including a 7th edition of The Dynamics of Persuasion. Perloff also is the author of The Dynamics of News, as well as articles in academic journals. He has written in the past for The Cleveland Jewish News on such topics as Jewish courtship, reflections of kosher butchers, what it is like to be a rabbi, and the challenges and joys of serving as a Jewish cantor. He has authored many opinion pieces for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, and has received state-wide journalism awards for his work. He enjoys working with students in his role as a teacher.

Neil Reisner

Neil Reisner is a journalism professor at Florida International University in Miami. In four decades as a newspaper reporter and editor, he has covered corrupt officials, complicated policies and hardball politics for the Miami Herald and other newspapers, and currently strings for The New York Times. He began his career in Jewish journalism and was a pioneer in database journalism, which he taught to hundreds of journalists around the country, Canada, the UK and Mexico.  He taught at Rutgers and Columbia universities before going to Florida International University.

Arnie Rosenberg

Arnie Rosenberg is an award-winning journalist and a returning judge for the Simon Rockower Awards.

Arnie has been an editor of newspapers and magazines in three states and has been recognized with numerous national, state and local journalism awards.

In Ohio, he was deputy metro editor of the Akron Beacon Journal and served as editor of two national business magazines. He was an editor at the Denver Post before joining the South Florida Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, where he became metro editor. He is now an editor with the USA Today Network-Florida, based on the Treasure Coast.

Ellen Roteman

Ellen Roteman began her professional career as a journalist at the Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh. She later served in a wide range of writing and marketing capacities, most recently as director of Marketing for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Her work has encompassed writing and managing projects ranging from annual reports and brochures, to speeches and scripts, to newspaper and magazine features. She received numerous awards for her writing and for marketing campaigns she developed, including a Simon Rockower first place in Feature Writing, as well as recognition by the International Association of Business Communicators, Women in Communications and the Jewish Community Centers Association.

Since "retiring," she has authored five books for children, published by Menucha Publishers. Her "Five Star Detectives" series, for middle grader readers, includes The Case of the Disappearing Chanukah Candles (published in 2018) and The Case of the Unfair Science Fair (2020). Her debut novel for teen girls, Production!, was also released in 2020, and her second YA novel, The Summer Everything Changed, is set to be released in June 2022, followed this coming fall by another installment in her "Detectives" series.
Michael Roteman

Michael Roteman has done extensive research on Jewish athletes and frequently writes and speaks on this subject. His series of twenty one articles about the Greatest Jewish Athletes of the Twentieth Century was published in four different Jewish newspapers.

Mr. Roteman has also been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, and is the author of three baseball novels, Phenom, Warning Track Power, and Hometown Hero.

A Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Duquesne University (BSBA & MBA), Mr. Roteman spent many years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where he was a senior executive for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and where he also edited the agency's in-house newspaper, From the Vine.  In addition to his work for the government, Mr. Roteman also worked as a freelance television and radio announcer, and as a freelance sports writer.  His play-by-play experience includes the Pittsburgh Pirates Class AA affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators, the Harrisburg Horizon minor league basketball team, the Harrisburg Patriots minor league football team, and hundreds of high school football and basketball games.

Mr. Roteman resides in both Lakewood Ranch, FL and Pittsburgh, PA with his wife Ellen.

He currently writes a weekly blog for his synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Lauren R. Rublin

Lauren R. Rublin is senior managing editor of Barron's, the business and financial weekly and website published by Dow Jones. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Joel, and is active in her local Jewish community.

Iris Samson

Iris Samson is a graduate of the University of Maryland College of Journalism, with a minor in Jewish Studies. Samson worked for almost two years for the B’nai B’rith International Jewish Monthly Magazine before moving to Pittsburgh. From 1983 to 2001, Iris was the assistant editor of The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, a weekly newspaper. Iris began freelancing for WQED-TV (the Pittsburgh PBS affiliate) in 2005, after serving as an associate producer on “From Pittsburgh To Poland: Lessons of the Holocaust.”  Since then, Iris has produced dozens of short pieces, and over a dozen half hour programs, including “Stories of the Holocaust.”

Some other productions include “The Valley that Changed the World,” two programs on the achievements of African American men and young men in the Pittsburgh region; three programs focusing on the emergent and changing educational landscape in the region; and “Vietnam, Another View.” Iris has five Mid-Atlantic Emmys, and has been nominated over a dozen times; She has won nine Golden Quill Awards. Iris also won three PAB (Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters) awards; Iris has a Gabriel Award and was part of an Edward R. Murrow Award winning team.

Iris was co-producer of a national PBS special, “Harbor From the Holocaust,” and is currently an associate producer on another national PBS special dealing with Reparations.

Dubi Silverstein

Dubi Silverstein  worked as a computer programmer in the 1980s, business executive in the 1990s, professional hockey writer in the 2000s, and musician and video producer in the 2010s. He splits his time between Manhattan and NE PA. His wife Ellen Weiman, a journalist and memoirist, is past president of the City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism.

Dale Singer

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969, while still a student at Washington University, by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the online startup St. Louis Beacon, where he reported primarily on education; when the Beacon merged with St. Louis Public Radio in 2013, he joined the combined staff and covered education until his retirement in 2017.  In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct instructor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren.  

Jeffrey Spitz Cohan

Jeffrey Spitz Cohan worked for 18 years in print and broadcast journalism, most recently as a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

He is currently the executive director of Jewish Veg, a national nonprofit organization. In that capacity, he writes occasional articles for the Times of Israel Blogs and Medium.

Jeffrey lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife Kathryn, dog Maizie and cat Nala.

Charles Strouse

Chuck Strouse has worked at the Miami Herald, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Los Angeles Times and – for two decades – at Miami New Times as editor-in-chief. Fluent in Spanish and Russian, he is a professor at Florida International University and digital director of FIU’s South Florida media Network.

Shira Vickar-Fox

Shira Vickar-Fox worked for decades in Jewish media. She was managing editor of New Jersey Jewish News, editor of Fresh Ink for Teens, and contributor to the New York Jewish Week (some at the same time!). She is now a freelance writer for Jersey’s Best magazine and NJ Advance Media in addition to a content developer and editorial consultant at MAC4 Communications. Hamantashen are her favorite Jewish dessert and she loves shutting down her phone every Shabbat eve. 

Ellen C. Weiman

Ellen C. Weiman is a retired Public Relations professional, having started out as a newspaper reporter in both NYC and CT, then representing NYC and NYS agencies to all forms of the media under three different NYC mayors.  She then represented various non-profits for the next decade.  Ellen lives with her husband in Manhattan, has two daughters and a dog named Charlie.

Natalie Weinstein

Natalie Weinstein has worked as a journalist for nearly three decades. She was a reporter and editor at the then-Jewish Bulletin of Northern California in the 1990s before joining the staff of CNET Networks, which covers all aspects of the tech industry. She is currently a senior editor at CNET News.

Cheryl Winokur Munk

Cheryl Winokur Munk is a well-established business journalist covering a wide range of financial topics, including college financial planning, insurance, fintech, retirement, personal finance and wealth management. She writes frequently for international publications including the Wall Street Journal and Barron's.

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