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Andy Cohen Tells Influencers to Represent Jewish Culture With Pride

Andy Cohen Tells Influencers to Represent Jewish Culture With Pride

Andy Cohen Tells Influencers to Represent Jewish Culture With Pride

“I am a proud American Jew,” Andy Cohen declared to cheers at the Voices For Truth: Influencers United Against Antisemitism summit in New York, where the TV host appeared first at the opening gala on Sunday and then moderated an “Influencers Town Hall” conversation on Monday.

The two-day event, organized by the Combat Antisemitism Movement, saw more than 200 social media influencers congregate for conversations about fighting antisemitism, with Cohen among the speakers at the opening night event.

At the podium, Cohen noted how he’s “been extremely fortunate in my life to not face much antisemitism on a personal level,” but the same can’t be said for his 87-year-old mother Evelyn, who grew up in the only Jewish family in a small town in Illinois. He noted that “Jewish women have always been a dominant force in my life” and credited his mother for teaching him to be outspoken about his Jewish identity.

“I’m not here tonight to opine on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or offer solutions for lasting peace across the Middle East,” the Bravo host said. “It’s not my lane — I don’t think anyone’s looking to me for any original insights on what’s happening over there, frankly, but of course I’ve been deeply alarmed by the global rise in antisemitism that we’ve seen since Oct. 7 and I want to take this moment to reiterate and amplify the calls for the immediate release of all hostages still being held in Gaza. The hostages and their families have been on all of our minds for the past nine months.”

He continued, “For me, flying the flag of who I am culturally is the greatest thing that I think I can do right now and as a proud American Jew, all of us, I think continuing to celebrate what we love about being Jewish is actually more of a political statement than people realize. Many of you have large social media platforms and I think that just by representing Jewish culture with pride to your followers, you will have a far-reaching impact, more than you may even realize.”

Cohen then spoke about the ways he’s worked Judaism into Watch What Happens Live, whether through the use of Yiddish words or popularization of “Mazel,” as he reflected on how Bravo has sold “Mazel” T-shirts for the past 15 years and he’s “always so heartened” to see Jews and non-Jews wearing them on the street. He also commented on the decision to light a menorah on air in December, alongside Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Dorit Kemsley.

“I had never lit Hanukkah candles on television before but this year it really felt like the year to do it and it felt like it was important for people to see. It wasn’t meant as a political statement, it was more to show how proud we are of our culture in the face of a lot of negativity going around about Jews, and I think the simplicity of that act really resonated, from people that I heard from,” Cohen explained. “It was a way to make a statement about who we are and what we believe in without hitting people over the head or being overt. That’s the main point I want to drive across here tonight: be proud of being Jewish and don’t shy away from showing it publicly. And sometimes the simplest displays or gestures are the strongest and most effective.”

Joseph Yomtoubian, Lynn Shabinsky, Melinda Strauss and Cohen during the “Influencer Town Hall” conversation.

Ohad Kad

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On Monday, Cohen returned to moderate the “Influencers Town Hall” forum with creators Joseph Yomtoubian, Lynn Shabinsky and Melinda Strauss.

Yomtoubian has 143,000 followers on Instagram and launched his account with a focus on dating; Shabinsky is a yoga teacher with 1 million followers on Instagram, and Strauss began with recipes and now has 1.2 million followers on TikTok. All three have pivoted their pages to incorporating Jewish content and supporting Israel amid the ongoing conflict with Palestine.

“For all of you, the easy way out is to not talk about this at all, and just keep talking about yoga and recipes and dating. So shout to all of your for speaking your truth, it’s really brave,” Cohen told the trio as they discussed their decisions to post and coping with negative reactions. Cohen also asked which social media platform was having the most success in conveying their messages, as Strauss shouted out the power of TikTok.

“Jewish people, especially Jewish creators, are not protected on TikTok — although I want to say that I think everyone here should be on TikTok, because even though they don’t necessarily protect us, Jewish people who are on TikTok consuming are still there,” Strauss said. “They need us. They need our voices, they need to know they’re not alone, and even when we’re not protected we still need to use our voices no matter what.”

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