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Michael D. Cohen is the Eastern Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. 


Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

I would most certainly say that I am better off now than I was four years ago. Over the specified time period I had the great fortune to meet and marry the love of my life, Elana; start a dream job helping fight for our community as the eastern director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and watch so many more important milestones in my children’s lives. I can only hope that the next four years will continue to shower me and my family with such blessings.

Have you ever been the target of discrimination?

Unfortunately, anti-Semitism and the discrimination against our people is all too present in our lives. I clearly remember that day in September 2016 when I and other great leaders of New York’s Jewish community were testifying in favor of a New York City Council resolution condemning BDS. While policy-based opposition should be deemed an acceptable form of free-speech rights in any forum, being called a Jewish pig, Zionist filth and many other personal epithets on that day surely blew far past the line of acceptable protest.    

What was the last television show you binge-watched?

While I personally am a “West Wing” junkie, to keep peace in the home I dare not attempt to change the channel when my wife is watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”  

What was your favorite vacation from your childhood?

While we didn’t go on many vacations while I was growing up, there is one that clearly sticks out in my mind: our first family trip to Florida. It was my first flight on an airplane, which right away provides a level of excitement. We were living in a rented two-family-house apartment, so when my parents rented a townhouse, having two floors was something very new. Then we landed in Orlando the day before the first snow to hit in anyone’s recent memory. That followed our day in Disney World, which virtually came to a standstill as we all mourned the Challenger crew as the space shuttle exploded just a short distance away in Cape Canaveral. As we then traveled for the second leg of our journey to Miami, my three-year-old sister came down with a 106-degree fever, leaving us to spend time in hospital emergency rooms. While sounding like an overall calamity, it brought at that point the family closer together–and that is really what great family vacations are all about.

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