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Accolades for Best in Diaspora Reporting

The B'nai B'rith World Center presented its 21st annual Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage in memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf on July 2. Winners of the 2013 awards were documentary film director and producer Moshe Alafi (broadcast media category) and Maariv/Makor Rishon journalist Zvika Klein (print media category). A Lifetime Achievement Award was also presented to veteran journalist David Landau, former editor-in-chief of Haaretz and managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, for his contribution to extended Diaspora reportage during his tenure at those newspapers. The event was held as part of the Jerusalem Press Club - JCP - inaugural events at JCP's new venue in Jerusalem's historic Yemin Moshe neighborhood, opposite the Old City. 

Professor Sergio DellaPergola from the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University, delivered the keynote address on: "A New Look at the Jewish People: Why Demography Counts".

The award jury presented the award in the print media category to Zvika Klein, editor of the Judaism section of NRG, Maariv's online newspaper, and Diaspora correspondent for NRG and Makor Rishon, for a series of nine articles that appeared in Makor Rishon during 2012 on aspects of Jewish life in the Diaspora, including the singles scene in Manhattan, virtual religious communities and the effect of the Toulouse murders on the Jewish community there. 

Moshe Alafi received the award in the electronic media category for his series "Communities in a New Light 2012" that was broadcast on Israel Television/Channel 1 during the Chanukah holiday last year. The series presented vignettes about the Jewish communities in Toronto, Buenos Aires, Odessa, Oslo, Torino, Toulouse and Boston.

In his acceptance speech, Zvika Klein said that the Diaspora beat is considered old fashioned at most Israeli newspapers and not prestigious, but for him it is the realization of a dream. As a result of his articles, a number of Israelis decided to serve as emissaries to far-flung Jewish communities. Moshe Alafi noted that his project was born out of the realization that the State of Israel, as the largest concentration of Jews in the world today, has a responsibility to maintain the unity of the entire Jewish family. Jerusalem is back as the central Jewish focus, but "Babylonia" still has a relevant message. 

David Landau criticized the Israeli media for directing so little attention to the other half of the Jewish world. He said that the World Center Award for Journalism contributed in part to repairing this situation and called for an in-depth investigation into the reasons behind the "syndrome" and the current attitude of Israelis towards the Diaspora.

In his lecture, Professor Sergio DellaPergola presented historic and current Jewish demographic patterns around the world along with statistics on the Jewish-Arab demographic balance in Israel. Demographic processes indicate that Israel can opt for only two out of its three most coveted options: to be a Jewish state, a democratic state, or a state with sovereignty over all its historical territory. He concluded that in a global Jewish perspective, demographic processes lead to a growing share and visibility of Israel among World Jewry. Israel's challenge now is how to be an inspiring focus of reference to as many Jews as possible worldwide; to be a developed and democratic state capable of attracting immigrants, and to ensure them economic and cultural gratification; and to be less of a recipient of help from the outside and more of a provider of material and intellectual help to Jewish communities globally.

Since its establishment in 1992, the B'nai B'rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reportage on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and on the state of Israel-Diaspora relations today in the Israeli print and electronic media. The World Center Award is widely acknowledged in the media industry as the most prestigious prize in its field in Israel. Its goal is to help shore up the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora by recognizing excellence in Diaspora-related reportage appearing in the Israeli print, broadcast and web-based media. It was established in recognition of the important contribution the media can make towards strengthening the relationship between Israel and world Jewry, by encouraging quality reportage on Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations.

Members of the distinguished award jury were: Prof. Yehudith Auerbach, Schools of Communication, Bar Ilan University; Eytan Bentsur, former Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Sara Frenkel, former Diaspora Correspondent for Israel Radio and Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2002; Shalom Kital, former Director General, News Company, Channel 2; Prof. Tamar Liebes, former Head, Department of Communication and Journalism, Hebrew University; Prof. Gabriela Shalev, Chair, Higher Academic Council, Ono Academic College and former Israel ambassador to the United Nations; Bambi Sheleg, founder and editor-in-chief of Eretz Acheret and award winner for 2011; and Asher Weill, Chair, publisher and editor of Ariel, The Israel Review of Arts and Letters (1981-2003).

The B'nai B'rith World Center Award for Journalism is named for the late Wolf Matsdorf, former editor of the B'nai B'rith World Center publication Leadership Briefing and a journalist in Israel and Australia, and his wife, the late Hilda Matsdorf, a pioneer in social work in both Australia and Israel. The Lifetime Achievement Award is made in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky. The Award is made possible through donations from Professor Daniel Schydlowsky, a member of the B'nai B'rith World Center International Board of Governors (Lima, Peru and Washington D.C.), and the Matsdorf family. 



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