Who the Folk?! Dana Prottas

Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of the community as our “Person of the Week.” Last week week we got to know Jeremy Frank. This week meet Dana Prottas! Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected]

TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities? 

Dana: I grew up right here in the Twin Cities – in St. Paul. I lived in New York on the Upper West Side for almost ten years, and I also lived in Israel.

TCJ: You’re the new director of a super cool youth education initiative called Yachad. For those that haven’t heard about it yet, can you explain what Yachad is all about?

Dana: Yachad is a new, innovative educational program for teens in Minneapolis that is a collaborative effort with synagogues, schools, and communal organizations. I like to think about Yachad as a university-style program – there will be numerous courses and experiences offered, and teens will sign up based on their interests and learning styles. Our goal is to deliver a high-quality Jewish education that is created by teens for teens. We want to engage them through hands-on learning opportunities, while at the same time, preparing them for the future, providing opportunities for college credit, and building their resume. We want to bring Judaism alive for the teens through relevant classes to their lives. For instance, we’re thinking of calling a fully certified Drivers Ed program, “Driving like a Mentsch!” We don’t just want teens learning about Judaism. We want them to be living Judaism!

TCJ: Sounds cool. Are you looking for volunteers?

Dana: We are looking for volunteers to make our first year of programming unbelievably amazing. We are looking for mentors to work with our teens and volunteers to help manage our nights of programming. If you are someone who would love to get involved – check out our webpage at www.yachadmn.org to sign up.

TCJ: Are you involved in any other TC organizations?

Dana: I am involved with the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. I serve of their arts activities support grant review panels. I also volunteer at the Heilicher Minneapolis Day School, and we belong to Beth El.

TCJ: We’re taking an informal survey. Which of the many Jewish summer camps gets you all ferklempt?

Dana: Camp Herzl will always have a special place in my heart.

TCJ: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Dana: I enjoy spending Shabbat with my two sweet girls and my husband Jeff. We have two highlights in our house – Blessing our girls during Shabbat dinner and pouring the sugar cereal on Shabbat morning. These are the only two times during our week that these traditions occur. Our Shabbat would not be complete without either one!

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Dana: My mom makes the most delicious tsimmes. Call me crazy, but it is not a Jewish holiday in our family without Baubie Jean’s tsimmes. Mom, are you cooking the tsimmes for Rosh Hashanah, yet?!

TCJ: Who is the coolest Jew?

Dana: I think it’s a tie between my fifth grade teacher Mr. Chemino and personality extraordinaire Andrew Zimmern. Mr. Chemino was a positive Jewish role model for me, and he definitely impacted my future vocation. I watch and enjoy Andrew every chance I get. I love his excitement for life, travel, and food. One important reason why Andrew also makes my list is because I really want him to be a guest panelist during our Yachad program this year.  (Hope you are reading this, Andrew!)

TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do in the cities?

Dana: I love to visit farmer’s markets in the Twin Cities. You never exactly know what you will find that’s new and fresh to cook. I also enjoy eating out in restaurants. I am especially addicted to the “farm to table” restaurants right now.

TCJ: Give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome! 

Dana: In my past life I enjoyed spending time on the small and big screen on TV and in films. I appeared in films with Barbara Streisand, Pierce Brosnan, Kirsten Dunst, and Denise Richards. I was interviewed by David Letterman and Paul Shaffer wrote a special song just for me.

Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!