Andy and Julia, a love story that spans “the ages”


Andy Cohen and Julia Katzman. (Courtesy)

Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief

It’s not all that unusual to reconnect with an acquaintance from college, high school or even grade school years after graduation and then, almost like magic, fall in love with them. But reconnecting and falling in love with someone from preschool? Who of us even remembers most of the kids we went to preschool with in the first place? 

But this is St. Louis and the Jewish community, where someone knows someone who knows another someone who is married to the first someone’s second cousin-in-law. You catch my drift. 

So when Andy Cohen – no, not that Andy Cohen, the one from Olivette – told his childhood friend Sam Feldman that he was moving back to St. Louis in the fall of 2021, Sam said, “I have a great place for you to live and I have a great date to set you up with.”

The great place was Sam’s apartment in Dogtown. He was moving in with his girlfriend, Brooke Hyman, which meant his then-roommate, Ben Kraus, needed someone to share the rent. That worked out well because Ben and Andy were already good friends, the two even went to preschool together at Congregation Temple Israel’s Deutsch Early Childhood Center.

The set-up date, as it turned out, also attended preschool at Temple Israel with Andy (and Ben). Her name was Julia Katzman, and she had moved back to St. Louis in 2018 to attend the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. 

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A few years later, Julia and Brooke, Sam’s girlfriend, spotted each other at the same gym, and thought the other looked familiar. Their circles in the community had overlapped some as kids, but they didn’t attend the same schools or hang out together. But over the course of the summer of 2021, Brooke, Sam and Julia became good friends, which resulted in Sam telling Andy about the amazing woman he needed to set him up with as soon as he moved back to St. Louis. 

The plan was for Julia, 29, and Andy, 28, to meet for dinner on Oct. 18, 2021, at Sasha’s in the DeMun neighborhood of Clayton, near where Julia lived. There, the two spent three hours talking nonstop, reminiscing about their shared childhood experiences – both had also attended the same elementary school though Julia was a grade ahead – and getting to know the person each other had become.

Andy left the night sure she was the one. Julia felt similarly, though it took her a few more dates to be 100% certain.

“What is so amazing and unique is that we have this history,” said Julia, who is a psychotherapist in private practice. “Most people meet in their 20s on a dating app. They have a lot of time to make up for. For Andy and me, it was like a puzzle piece fitting together from the beginning. We have a shared history and for us, that made a very positive difference.”

Effortless is probably the best word to describe the interplay between them. The two truly seem to delight in each other’s company. When the three of us spoke recently, Julia and Andy traveled back in time to when they were children, recalling seeing each other at the St. Louis airport on the way to their respective summer camps, his in Wisconsin, hers in Minnesota. 

“I remember making eye contact in the airport with Andy and not saying anything,” said Julia.

“I remember the same thing,” Andy countered, also recalling that he had “a distinct memory as a little kid of being at Julia’s house and watching her and her sisters put on shows. There was always a lot of energy in the household,” added Andy, who works as a sales manager at the Ritz-Carlton St. Louis. 

It wasn’t all that long after getting to know each other that Andy and Julia moved in together. And while much of their relationship seems to resemble a storybook romance, their resolve was significantly tested when Andy endured a serious health scare last fall. Thankfully, he is fine now, but as Julia’s parents noted when he asked for their blessing to marry their daughter, “You guys have been through it and passed the stress test. You are perfect for each other.”

And so, on Jan. 6, after 15 months of dating, Andy decided the best place to propose was where it all began – at the preschool playground at Temple Israel. He worked with TI’s Rabbi Amy Feder to cement the plan.

“Julia and I went to the playground under the guise of helping a friend with a flat tire nearby,” said Andy, who proposed with a redesigned ring using the diamond from the engagement ring his late Grandma Beebee had given him after he graduated from college. 

“Right at sunset, the photographer was set up and captured the moment when I asked her to marry me,” Andy continued. “I had our parents and siblings and their partners all picked up by a limo bus, and they were able to come to the playground to help us celebrate, surprise Julia and share the moment on the playground where it all began.”

The two are planning to marry in late August. Julia says testament to the bashert of their relationship is that most of the wedding details have come together seamlessly. 

When I asked each of them what they loved the most about the other, Julia said, “Andy is so positive and just loves life.”

Andy said, “Julia is remarkably intelligent and caring and beautiful . . . She is perfect.”

Andy Cohen and Julia Katzman. (Courtesy)

Their love for each other also extends to a renewed enthusiasm for St. Louis.

“In the same way that meeting Andy is like reconnecting with an old friend, being in St. Louis is similar metaphorically,” said Julia. “It’s so nice to be close to home. It’s so nice to be able to go out to dinner with both sets of parents whenever we want. 

“St. Louis is so much a part of our roots and I think that that makes being here together so joyous and effortless.”