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Forward essay on growing up with a biracial Yiddish identity wins 1st place Rockower Award

In her essay, Kyla Kupferstein Torres describes the warm relationship she had with her Holocaust survivor grandparents

Forverts contributor Kyla Kupferstein Torres won first prize for excellence in writing about Black-Jewish relationships at the American Jewish Press Association’s 42nd annual Simon Rockower Awards. The Rockowers are generally regarded as the premier award ceremony in American Jewish journalism.

Her essay, “Growing up as a biracial child with survivor grandparents,” described the warm relationship she had with her Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivor grandparents, Fela and Hershl Kupferstein.

Kupferstein shared what it was like visiting Bube Fela and Zayde Hershl in the Amalgamated Houses in the Bronx — a cooperative apartment complex “that functioned like a reassembled shtetl, a Yiddish-speaking community of Jews from Eastern Europe who had somehow escaped or survived the Nazi genocide and lived to tell the tale.”

Describing the visits that she and her younger brother David had with their grandparents each weekend, she wrote: “As my brother and I (known at our grandparents’ home as Kylashi and Davittle) sat at our grandparents’ kitchen table, we were fed a steady diet of Holocaust talk. ‘The war,’ they called it, when they spoke English, which they did only for us. Hitler, Stalin, the camps – all these were a part of their normal vocabulary. And their neighbors, some who had been my grandparents’ friends back in Warsaw, most of them Bundists ranging from agnostic to atheist, were the closest thing to an extended family that we had.”

The Forward also won nine other first prizes and 24 second prizes and honorable mentions at the Rockower award ceremony. Other winning news organizations with top prizes include J Weekly in San Francisco, TC Jewfolk in Minneapolis, the St. Louis Jewish Light and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


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