Courageous in CLE: Judith Cohen

Judith wears a red, white and black fringe dress by Samuel Dong (can also be worn as a skirt) paired with a plain black tank dress and a long black thin shawl by Alquema, all from Toni in Style in Chagrin Falls. Shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo are her own. Red clutch bag by Saks Fifth Avenue is her own. | Casey Rearick Photo

Age: 84

Hometown: Shaker Heights

Synagogue: Suburban Temple-Kol Ami

Work: Realtor with Howard Hanna in the Pepper Pike office; Shaker Heights Community Emergency Response Team

How have you served the community during the COVID-19 pandemic?

As a member of the Shaker Heights Community Emergency Response Team, in early 2020 I helped repair N95 masks that were in the CERT inventory from the SARS epidemic. The elastic, which held the masks on to the head, had rotted, had to be removed and replaced. Over 12,000 masks were corrected and then distributed to fire and police department first responders in many communities. 

I assisted the Cuyahoga County Board of Health vaccinators at the main Shaker Heights Fire Station when the vaccines first became available to be given in December 2020, by directing vehicle traffic and walk-ins, later doing the same at the Beachwood Fire Department, The Word Church and Mayfield High School. 

I also assisted during the weekly COVID-19 testing drive-thru site at the Shaker Heights Fire Department. Shaker Heights Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney applied for, received and administered a federal grant for Personal Protective Equipment for first responders, and as part of the CERT team, I help with the distribution of the PPE to fire departments in Cuyahoga County.

What has been the most challenging part?

Difficulty in hearing or being heard because of a mask, and not recognizing people or being recognized because of wearing a mask. I learned to speak louder, and wrote my name on my masks with magic marker.

What has been the most rewarding part?

It may sound corny, but it is rewarding to know that I was doing a small part in helping to make a difference to eliminate the COVID-19 epidemic to make me, my family, my community, my country and the world safer. I know that the vaccines make a difference.

How can Clevelanders continue to support frontline workers?

Encourage everyone you know to get vaccinated.

What are you most looking forward to doing this summer in Northeast Ohio now that you are vaccinated and everything is opening up?

I look forward to being outdoors and breathing fresh air without a mask. That said, I still have a mask around my neck and wear it if I am near any groups of people, indoors or outdoors, and maintain a 6-foot distance.

What local restaurant are you most excited to visit?

Any restaurant where I can eat outside.

What Cleveland activities are you looking forward to this summer?

I play in two ladies golf leagues, at Highland and Manakiki, and am the scheduler for both. We started in May and will go through September. It is a pleasure to see and speak to people without a mask. I will still avoid crowds.

Meet more of Cleveland’s frontline workers at

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