NJP (Nice Jewish Person) Josh Finn
Each month, The Well highlights an amazing (and eligible!) individual.
This month, we have a conversation with NJP Josh Finn.
TW: How did you decide to make your adult life in Metro Detroit?
JF: After going to Central Michigan University, teaching English for a year in Ashdod, Israel, and coming back to school here, Metro Detroit feels like home to me. My family, friends, and so many people are here. I think it’s important to keep this community thriving and to make it your own!
TW: You spend your days working for Bloomfield Public Schools -- tell us more!
JF: I am a DeafBlind Intervener. I work with students that are DeafBlind, and make learning accessible to them. A typical day involves me collaborating with teachers on what needs to be taught, and then modifying the assignments for the students in braille, or whatever communication mode they need. I’m also an American Sign Language Interpreter in the community and freelance as well!
TW: Have you always been passionate about American Sign Language? How did that passion come about?
JF: Yes! In 4th grade there was a disability awareness day. It totally changed my life. We learned the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet and I went home and practiced. A few years later, I signed up for classes and learned even more. Eventually, I minored in ASL at Central Michigan, and went to interpreting school at Oakland Community College later on. I became certified in April 2017 through the state of Michigan!
TW: You're a graduate of Central Michigan University and Oakland Community College - what was Jewish life like there?
JF: At Central, I was involved with Hillel right away. It was a close knit group, and we loved planning fun events. Central has a smaller Jewish community. You could find me typing away notes at our meetings, and planning programs like, “Happy Meal Hannukkah,” or “Make Your Bubbie Proud Shabbat.” At OCC, I became more involved with The Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit's NextGen.
TW: What's your favorite book and what about it moves you?
JF: My favorite book is Broadway Musicals, Show by Show. I’m a theatre geek. The book outlines musicals from the early 1900s until the early 2000s. It’s interesting to see how musicals and theatre have transformed over the years. I like that the book explains how the show came about, who the cast was, and songs that have changed or stayed the same in the revivals.
TW: Where would you most like to travel to that you haven't visited?
JF: I would die to go to Antarctica. Yes, living in Michigan, we basically live in Antarctica already. When I was in 7th grade, my dad’s coworker was researcher there, and it always looked so beautiful. I would love to see penguins and explore. That…or somewhere warmer like the Maldives.
TW: How do you like to give back to the community / others?
JF: I love educating people on American Sign Language, as well as participating in pride events. I am a part of the LGBTQ community, and am on the committee for NextGen Pride, which plans events for LGBTQ individuals and allies. It’s a super fun way to get out there showing people what Jewish LGBTQ life is all about!
TW: What's your favorite Jewish holiday and why?
JF: Chanukah by far. I love the family traditions surrounding it, and I love being with family. I love to gift give, and I love latkes and everything about the holiday. My mom bakes unreal cookies, and we just have a fun time together. It also reminds me of my late grandparents and their traditions, which means a lot to me.
TW: Fav Jewish food?
JF: Kugel. Latkes. Matzo Ball soup….oh and for sure, a bagel and shmear.
TW: If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
JF: I’d probably ask Baela, my two-year-old black cat: if she really likes being held, why she’s so obsessed with her blue string, and why is she so stinkin’ cute?!
TW: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
JF: Becoming a certified ASL Interpreter. I have chased that dream since 1998, and it’s so nice to finally be certified!
TW: How about a fun fact?
JF: As a kid, I was on the cover of the Life cereal box for a week. I got 3rd place in a contest in Kindergarten, and I still have one of the boxes!
TW: What are your three favorite movies?
JF: It’s tough, but…Déjà Vu, Stranger Than Fiction, and Miss Congeniality!
TW: When you've had a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?
JF: I bake up a storm. I can make cake, cookies, breads, cupcakes…you name it. I “stress bake,” and watch The Great British Bake Off. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine.
TW: Would you rather win an Olympic Medal, an Academy Award, or a Nobel Prize?
JF: An Academy award, so I could thank all of the amazing people in my life, and meet Ellen DeGeneres of course!