Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Rockower Awards

The Rockower Awards were last night. I am not making this up, there really are awards with my name on it. The American Jewish Press Association has its annual Simon Rockower Awards ceremony for excellence in Jewish Journalism. Simon Rockower was my great-grandfather. I was the surprise keynote speaker/MC at the Rockower Awards in Boston in 2005, and gave opening remarks in 2006 in Baltimore.

Here are the remarks I gave in 2005:

Shalom y’all, as we say down in Texas. My name is Paul Rockower. I am the Press Officer for the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest. Simon Rockower was my great-grandfather.

I would like to thank the American Jewish Press Association for having me here tonight. It’s not every day that you get to introduce an award with your name on it.

Winston Churchill once said, “The farther back you look, the farther forward you can see.”

Tonight we look back on the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Simon Rockower Awards. I am here to impart to you a little history of the award whose name I am proud to share.

The award was created a quarter-century ago, by my Grandfather Harry and his brothers, as a centennial tribute to the life of a dignified man. My grandfather died shortly after this award was created. Tonight I am here to honor both their legacies.

Like the story of so many, Simon Rockower left his native Austria in search of the dreams and promises of a new land. In this country, he found it.

His progeny have become physicists and physicians, lawyers and businessmen, and yes, even journalists.

He was a man who taught his children to always ask good questions, something they taught, L’dor v’dor, to their children.

Simon Rockower was a man who deeply cherished his people, and always supported their betterment.

One of his deepest pursuits was bringing not only relatives to America, but also bringing the friends of relatives and the relatives of friends to this land.

Simon Rockower believed that self-respect was gained by being proud of your religion and your people.

As a century tribute to Simon Rockower, the Rockower family created this award to honor him and his deep love for the craft of Jewish Journalism.

Simon Rockower believed in the importance of leaving the legacy of a good name.

The excellence of your newspapers brings honor to his name. The excellence of your newspapers brings honor to our people.

Now, this sounds like the beginning of a joke but… I was on the road from Providence, sitting on a bus next to a Catholic priest. He reminded me that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few things.

In an age of compromised journalistic integrity, the field of Jewish Journalism remains committed to the truth. There are no “Jayson Blairs” in the world of Jewish Journalism. You faithfully tell the story of our people and of our homeland Israel. You tell Israel’s story in a clear voice, even when it is being maligned by the mainstream media. Your commitment to the truth remains paramount and unwavering.

With that said, it is my honor to begin the 25th annual Simon Rockower Award ceremony….

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