RIP: Jewish Newspaper Dynamo Shani McManus

Bronx native, most recently reporting for the Florida Jewish Journal, was 74.

FloridaJewishJournalLogoThe career of Shani McManus, a Florida Jewish Journal reporter who died last week at age 74 from lung cancer, was launched in 1960s-era New York.

Before she became a journalist, McManus studied dance and performed professionally at various spots, include Greenwich Village’s Café au Go Go. Then, at the end of that same decade, she began her reporting career:

McManus was born and raised in the Bronx and began her journalism career in 1969 as a reporter for the [New York] East Side News, a venerable Jewish newspaper on the Lower East Side of New York.

Set in a then largely Hassidic community, the paper’s freshest reporter – young, blond and blue-eyed Shani, an Irish Catholic sporting mini-skirt and white go-go boots – caused more than a little stir in the close-knit, ethnic community.

But her Bronx, “Jewish-by-osmosis” background and preference for knishes and chopped liver earned her neighborhood approval in no time, she once wrote in her bio. It wasn’t long before, “Hello, Shain-a-la,” was a routine greeting.

McManus was a regular contributor to the Journal until last fall. One of the earliest pieces she wrote for the Journal covered the 2013 memorial held for Steven Sotloff, a Miami freelance journalist executed by ISIS.

“Shain-a-la” is warmly remembered in the obituary put together by Deborah Work. Here for example is how Robin Isaacson, Southeast regional director for AMIT, framed her personality:

Isaacson was driving when she heard the news of McManus’ passing and had to pull over. “Shani was a force of nature. Smart, witty and she had good instincts. She was just wonderful.”

Long-time friends who spent many Jewish holidays together, Isaacson said. “She and my mother loved to sit over a holiday dinner and get into politics like you can’t believe. I could have sold tickets to that.”