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 Eli Swaden. This week meet Shana Gee-Cohen! Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected].
Shana: Yes, my family was the only Jewish family that lived on Christmas Lake in Excelsior, MN. Every year in elementary school I was always cast as the Jamaican or African character because my music teacher would say, “Being a Jew is the same as being black.” (It was the 80’s and they still had 8-foot Christmas trees in public schools.)
TCJ: You’re the new Membership Sales Director at the St. Paul JCC. What are you most excited about with this new position?
Shana: The chance to hang out with Penny Schumacher, Michael Waldman, and my favorite board member, Becca Kvasnik on a regular basis! Also I love being around the adorable Bubbies and Tzaydies when they come in the morning for Silver Sneaker Yoga!
But really, I work at the most diverse and inclusive place in the Twin Cities. On any given day, I interact with people ages 1 to 95 years old of various race and economic backgrounds. One day, I heard fifteen different dialects of Yiddish being spoken in the hallway.
I feel honored to be apart of a bustling urban center that gives back to the community that they serve. I love that a J membership gives me access to a superior health and wellness facility but then also pays for Kosher Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors. Why would anyone want to join a corporate gym?
TCJ: You used to be at JFCS where you ran J-Pride. Are you still involved with J-Pride?
Shana: While I am no longer running J-Pride, I am still working towards the status of becoming the most famous Jewish lesbian in the world. I know this goal seems a bit lofty when you think of my competitors: Suze Orman, Sandra Bernhard, and others. I suppose I’ll settle for an invitation to Obama’s Chanukah party next year instead. In the meantime, I am emceeing the Queer Women Comedy Show at the Sabes JCC on January 24th @ 7:30. Buy your tickets, this event always sells out.
TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?
Shana: Brisket. You know, the super tender-melt in your mouth kind.
TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Shana: Hanukkah, the holiday that embraces eight nights of eating chocolate, doughnuts, fried potatoes and gambling.
TCJ: Who is the coolest Jew?
Shana: Joan Rivers. Nothing was ever off-limits in her comedy. She was raw, beautiful, and had the quickest wit. Zichrona Livracha.
TCJ: Have you been to Israel? What is your favorite memory?
Shana: I have been to Israel a few times. I think my favorite memory was stopping at a gas station that offered a Friday special of a free newspaper and a Shabbat Challah when you spend 180 shekels of gas.
TCJ: What’s your top strategy for surviving winter?
Shana: Buy an unlimited carwash pass. The best $35 I have ever spent!
TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do in the Cities?
Shana: Complain about the weather.
TCJ: Give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome!
Shana: I am throwing an amazing New Year’s Eve Dance Party called FANTASIA at Mill City Nights. You should come.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!