Esserman wins Syracuse Press Club Award

By: Reporter staff

Rabbi Rachel Esserman
Rabbi Rachel Esserman, executive editor of The Reporter, received first place in the editorial category of the Syracuse Press Club Awards for her column “Opinion or fact.” The column appeared in the April 29, 2016, issue of The Reporter and can be found online at 
“It’s a wonderful honor to win another Syracuse Press Club award,” said Esserman. “What’s interesting is that this column appeared months before the 2016 election, yet discussed some of the same themes and issues.”
The column focuses on a Facebook post by an Oberlin College assistant professor who claimed that the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014 was caused by Israeli and Rothschild-led bankers. The president of the college refused to condemn the professor’s statement, even though she posted no facts to support her claim.
“There is a difference between opinion and fact,” Esserman said. “Just because we feel or believe something does not mean that it’s a fact. You need evidence and there has been none to support her statement. What’s happening is a blurring of the line between reality and falsehood, and that is profoundly scary.”
Esserman noted that the fact this took place in a college setting is even more disturbing. In her column, she wrote, “When a graduate student defends a Ph.D. thesis, is his evidence accepted because he believes it or does he have to present it with factual evidence, either from scientific experiments or documented research in support of the opinion? The idea is to analyze facts and draw conclusions from them. Yes, people may come to different conclusions, but those conclusions must be derived from factual information.”
She sees this not just as a problem for Jews, but for other groups. “Opinion parading as fact is dangerous,” she added. “You just have to look at the daily paper or watch a newscast to see how far this idea is leading us from the path of truth and justice our country stands for.”