Katie Cohen

GEN Z: Katie Cohen, 22



GEN Z: Katie Cohen, 22

Katie Cohen

Pronouns: She/her
Hometown: Peabody
Currently living in: Peabody
Alma mater(s): Temple Beth Shalom preschool, the Brown Elementary School in Peabody, Higgins Middle School, Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. I am currently attending Southern New Hampshire University, but I’ll be able to call that my alma mater in about five weeks.
Job: Student, server at a craft cocktail bar in Marblehead, and cofacilitator for the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Leaders for Tomorrow program.
Hobbies: Cooking, writing, I love teaching, and, weirdly enough, learning about all things in the social sciences – I would call that a hobby at this point in my life.
Favorite music: Hozier, Taylor Swift, Zach Bryan
Favorite movie: “Interstellar”
Favorite TV shows: “Glee” and “Ted Lasso”
Favorite book: “Normal People”
Favorite travel destination: Israel – Tel Aviv beaches
Favorite Jewish practice: The values and ideas surrounding Shabbat. I don’t keep Shabbat every week, but I try to keep a mindfulness of the day. Other than that, Passover.
Favorite North Shore spot: I don’t have a favorite, favorite spot, but I love being so close to the water and the ocean. So I would say any of the beaches.

Tell me about your Jewish background.

I grew up incredibly involved at my Reform temple in Peabody, which was Temple Beth Shalom at the time. I went to preschool there, I went to Hebrew school there, I was bat mitzvahed and confirmed there. My mom served as temple president for a time and was always involved in our sisterhood. It truly was and is like a second home and second family to me. I really met some of my closest friends to this day there, and I credit that experience to why Judaism feels like home to me and why I feel like it’s important to carry with me through my life.
Having gone through that upbringing gave me a really special relationship with the Jewish values of community, and it’s really been one of my favorite aspects of Judaism. I went to Israel once at 16 and again at 22, and those experiences really solidified that sense of community for me.

How is your Jewish experience now different from what you grew up with?

Growing up it was much more brought to me. Being a kid, you don’t really have much of a choice: Your parents just send you where they want to send you. Now, I’m finding that I have to actively seek it out and be the one to create those spaces. But all the people that I carry from my early upbringing until now share that same idea. We really try to make the time to have those connections and meaningful relationships.

What is it like to be a part of AJC’s Leaders for Tomorrow program? How has it impacted you?

I went to college thinking that I wanted to be a high school history teacher, and then with the pandemic, I kind of fell out of that path. So, the opportunity with Leaders for Tomorrow has given me that sense of being able to teach the high school age. I really, really love sharing Jewish education with them and education in general. It’s really great to teach a younger generation that cares so much about the world they live in and seeing it be a better place.

What are you most excited for about graduating?

I’m really excited to be getting into the field of Jewish education. Once I decided that I didn’t want to work in public schools, I wanted to work in the education realm somewhere else. So, I’m really excited to see the Holocaust Museum be built in Boston and hopefully get to have that be a part of my professional career one day.

If you could have dinner with any Jewish person alive or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?

Deborah Lipstadt, who is a historian. She is currently the special envoy to combat antisemitism for the U.S. government. She’s become somewhat of my Jewish historian hero. I wrote my undergrad thesis on Holocaust denial and she was so pivotal in that field – all of my sources in one way or another led back to her. She really inspired me to learn more about it and educate more on it.

Do you know someone aged 18-40 who we should feature in this column? Email klein@jewishjournal.org with their name and contact information.

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