Who The Folk?! Josh Winchell

Josh Winchell may have only lived in Minnesota for 11 years, but, based on hobbies alone, he’s made to live in Minnesota. Now living in White Bear Lake with his wife two kids, Winchell is not only about to start a new job, he also recently joined the board of TC Jewfolk’s parent organization, Jewfolk Media. So, Who The Folk is Josh Winchell?

You and (Jewfolk Media Executive Director) Libby Parker know each other from Las Vegas, right?

From high school.

Any good Libby stories from high school we can share?

No. I was disengaged in high school. I did everything I could do to get out of Vegas. The place is just not me. I like fishing and being outdoors and fresh air. Vegas is fun. It’s got a lot of stuff. But I’m not a desert rat.

It sounds like you were a Minnesotan at heart before you got here.

I would say I’m a Minnesotan at heart for sure. I moved here sight unseen. All it took was a few internet searches: They’ve got lakes, they’ve got trees, they’ve got grass. I was in. I lived in downtown Minneapolis for nine or 10 months before buying a house in the suburbs. Before moving to Minnesota, I had been through the airport a bunch of times but that’s about it. It’s funny because I always say you can tell a lot about a city by its airport. And if you spend enough time in airports it kind of becomes true. Minneapolis has a very nice airport. It’s very much like the city and the town itself. It’s clean, the people are nice, good food, it’s new, and technologically advanced.

What job brought you here?

I worked for International Game Technology. I sold technology solutions to casinos. The region I covered at any time was 12 to 13 states plus parts of Canada and Europe.

Now you’re settling into a new job?

Yes. I’ll be going from casinos to media.

How did you end up getting involved with Jewfolk Media?

Libby reached out to me on Facebook. She said we need some fresh ideas. Something I’ve had on my bucket list is to be a part of a non-profit.

What are hoping to see happen next?

I have no preconceived notions. I’m coming in eyes wide open, but I think I can contribute. With my background in sales and marketing, and traveling and seeing a lot, I can bring fresh ideas and perspectives, new positioning and a focus on how can we make Jewfolk Media more relevant. I think that’s the goal with any business. And how do you get there? That’s the magic question, right? At this time, I have no answers and lots of questions.

Had you been active in the Jewish community growing up?

I was very active growing up. My grandfather grew up ultra-orthodox but broke away from that and I would classify him as conservative. He went to services every Friday and Saturday, and he was very engaged in the community – and a big part of my life. He was always pushing Judaism. My mom is Jewish, my dad was Lutheran, and growing up, we would always lean on the Jewish side. We celebrated all the holidays out of respect for my dad and mom, but if I had to classify myself as in a religious category, it has always been Jewish. We never went to church; we always went to temple. It was conservative and a little more traditional. My dad was never really a part of that. He was never engaged, but he never took away from it either. Safe to say, I’m very confused. But, everything I know from a faith stand point is Judaism.

Are you active here or is Jewfolk Media your way into the community?

I literally came here and it was work, work, work. Then started a family and now it’s balancing life and work. It’s been a big discussion in our household, of how do we raise our children. My wife is Lutheran and not a practicing Lutheran. And I’m not a practicing Jew. But we have these fundamental beliefs that we ultimately want to instill in our children. She’s open to Judaism as well, and I’m open to making sure our kids have a good solid foundation of some kind of belief. I relate to Judaism more than anything. When Libby asked me, I was kind of like ‘Maybe this is what I need. Maybe this will re-engage me with that community. The community that I didn’t to as much as I would have liked to while growing up.’

Favorite Jewish holiday?

Probably Hanukkah because it’s a little more celebratory. I like Passover from the aspect that the family usually gets together on those holidays. It’s a little more family oriented.

Favorite Jewish food?

Matzah brei with onion, and noodle kugel.

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