Andy Cohen Credits his Mom for Making Him a 'Proud American Jew' – Kveller
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Andy Cohen Credits his Mom for Making Him a ‘Proud American Jew’

At a recent event to counter antisemitism, the talk show host said he believes Jewish women should run the world.

Andy Cohen on a blue textured background.

via Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

Bravo host and producer Andy Cohen is a self-proclaimed “proud Jew,” and he’s made sure most viewers of his show “Watch What Happens Live!” don’t miss it. On air, he popularized the word “mazel” so much the network even sells mazel merch, and last year he lit a Hanukkah candle live. And on multiple occasions, he’s had his rabbi, Sharon Kleinbaum, who recently retired from her Congregation Beit Simchat Torah pulpit, join the fun.

But in case anyone possibly missed the fact that Cohen is Jewish, the executive producer of “The Real Housewives” franchise recently told an excited crowd at “Voices for Truth: Influencers United Against Antisemitism,” which was held earlier this month in New York City’s Hell Kitchen, they just have to look at his mom, Evelyn, to see where he gets his Jewish pride. “She is a strong Jewish woman,” Cohen said in his remarks, which were both an ode to strong Jewish women and to the incredible power of small Jewish acts of pride and resilience.

In his speech, Cohen said he was grateful to have grown up and spend his life in spaces where Jews were abundant and didn’t have to live in the specter of antisemitism — referencing both St Louis, Missouri, the city where he grew up and had a bar mitzvah, and New York City, the place where he became a groundbreaking TV icon. The same can’t be said for Evelyn, 87, who grew up in “the only Jewish family in a small town in Southern Illinois,” where “antisemitism was par for the course.”

“Her neighbors and everyone in this town thought that Jews had horns, quite literally,” he shared with the crowd.

It was why his mom immersed herself in the Jewish community when she made it to St. Louis, becoming the head of the local chapter of NCJW (National Council of Jewish Women), and it was why Andy grew up surrounded by strong Jewish women.

“Jewish women have always been a dominant force in my life,” he said, claiming that his outspoken and driven nature came from his mom. “There is nothing Jewish women cannot achieve… and by the way, if it were up for me, they’d be running the world, because they’ve certainly run mine for my whole life and I’m the better for it.” (Amen to that!)

And because you can’t make a speech at a Jewish event without a Jewish joke, he also shared an anecdote about how his mom said she “probably would have hated your wife anyway” when he came out as gay. “Nothing keeps you more grounded than a Jewish mother,” he very rightly surmised.

Cohen also paid tribute to another Jewish woman, Rabbi Kleinbaum, who he says was his anchor when he first came to New York. Cohen, who had a fairly traditional Jewish upbringing, shared his appreciation for the religious leader, who officiated both his son Ben’s bris and his daughter Lucy’s baby naming (she even gave the name her blessing). He talked about how grateful he was to her for her spiritual counsel, especially after world-changing events like 9/11, and explained why he felt it was important for Jewish and non-Jewish viewers alike to see her on his show. “I love for them to see the wisdom and light that my rabbi has,” he explained, adding, “I love for people to see her in the way I see her.”

It’s those acts — sharing the wisdom of a compassionate and wonderful rabbi, lighting a menorah on his show for the first time this year, when it felt more needed than ever, imparting little Yiddishisms regularly — that he feels can be the most resonant in countering the rising negativity towards his fellow Jews. Sometimes the most powerful acts are the small ones, a simple way to make a statement of who we are, and our pride in who we are, without hitting people over the head. “The simplest displays or gestures,” he mused, “are the most effective.”

While Cohen told the crowd that he prays for the return of the hostages in Gaza, he said that he wasn’t there to share any political insights about the situation in Israel and Gaza, adding that currently he feels the most important thing he can do is proudly “flying the flag of who I am culturally” as a “proud American Jew.”

“Be proud of being Jewish,” Cohen urged all those watching, words instilled in him by his incredible Jewish mom.

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