Yesterday was your yahrzeit. I spent the day sitting quietly at home reflecting on the eight years that have passed without you in them. Well, you’re in them, kid. You’re always in them.
Last night, we held the 8th annual concert in celebration of your life. I’m still amazed how powerful these evenings are for me. Part of it is that so many people in attendance want to surround our family with love and support. So while I was ready to just jump in and enjoy the concert, their strong emotions nudged me into a more reflective state than I might otherwise have found myself.
That was okay. More than okay. With your smiling, black-and-white-checked-fedora-topped face on the screens above the performers, you were powerfully present anyway. Again, my visceral response to your photo took me by surprise but that was a fine, comforting way to move through the evening.
Faith is a commodity I’ve spent most of my life peddling. It’s kind of what rabbis do. On this your 8th yahrzeit, I’m thinking about faith. Not mine (although losing you has certainly put that to the test).
I mean yours.
Because the Buffalo medical examiner was unable to prove the cause of your death, the police wanted to label it a suicide. But in canvassing your friends on campus, they found what I’d felt all along. You were not a candidate for suicide. You had far too much faith – in you, in others, and in life.
“I will never forget the sight of Jonah leading a group of tenth graders into the Manhattan subway system to find where the homeless were and to offer them food and a kind word” (Billy Dreskin, Jonah Maccabee Foundation).
That’s why we feel especially good about making this grant. For nearly 30 years, the common room of Hebrew Union College (Reform Judaism’s rabbinical/cantorial seminary in New York City’s Greenwich Village) has been transformed each Monday evening into a dining room where students prepare and serve dinner to 100 people who might not otherwise get a meal that evening. NYU law students offer free legal aid, and there are clothes and supplies available to help these folks get by. There’s live music by professional jazz musicians and free flu shots at the Duane Reade down the street. Read the rest of this entry »
Special Investigator Jethro Gibbs brings a full complement of law enforcement skills to his job heading up a crew of officers at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. NCIS. Yep, one of my favorite TV shows. One of America’s favorite TV shows. I enjoy it because of the storylines that are frequently accompanied by a humor (okay, often corny humor) that makes me smile. I’m not sure if you’re responsible for this, Jonah, but between losing you and the ugliness in the world today, I have absolutely no desire to see unabating corruption and violence on television. Unless it’s about the good guys winning. Read the rest of this entry »
We recently learned about a beautiful Israeli project called “The Road to Recovery” in which more than 750 volunteers drive critically ill Palestinians (mostly children) to receive medical treatment in Israel. 10,000 recovery trips now happen each year!
There are so many ways that we see Israelis and Palestinians coming together. We’re touched by them all. This one, saving lives one at a time by making sure patients can get from the West Bank and Gaza to hospitals throughout Israel for treatment, is simply fantastic.
We are touched and honored to support this worthy program.
Thank you … to those who, in 2017, have provided funds so we can make a difference in young people’s lives
Rabbi Micah Greenstein … yehi zichro baruch … thank you for continuing to spread Jonah’s light to the world
Sarah Sagner … this follows up on my tzedakah statement … please use it for other kids like me
Cantor Linda Ecker
Jim Dowdle … in honor of William
Solly Zisser … in honor of my and Jonah’s shared birthday
Carol, David, Jade and Sofia Sank … you continue to be in our hearts and thoughts
Linda and David Altshuler
Joel and Adriane Belmont … in memory of Ida Dreskin
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl
Rabbi Peter Rubinstein
Sandy and Rich Spilka … in memory of Ida Dreskin
Cantor Julie Yugend-Green
Liz Okin Gabay … in honor of Rabbi Billy
George and Chris Markley
Mark Kaufman and Rachel Wineberg … in honor of Noah Aronson (whose music moves me, and whose concert is preempted by my wife’s theatrical endeavors)
The Dreskin family … in honor of Lisa Linn and her incredible Jonah Maccabee Concert Committee
… and growing!
Happy new year! Our winter campaign has ended and we thought you might like to know how we spent your money in 2016. Here’s the rundown of the grants we made:
1) IsraAID is an Israeli-based humanitarian aid agency that responds to emergency crises and engages in international development around the world. Our grant supported their work with Syrian refugees.
2) Treehouse Shakers provides teacher trainings and residencies for students that focus on the art of dance and storytelling.
3) The American Indian College Fund supports Native student access to higher education. The Jonah Maccabee Foundation believes that every American has a profound responsibility to assist our nation’s indigenous peoples in building whole, healthy lives for themselves and their children. Read the rest of this entry »
I was in the backyard today with Charlie where, while usually it’s only a quick pass-through as he makes his way from the back door to the front door and outside again, he found lots to interest him. So I got to linger a bit too.
My attention was drawn to the grass we tried to grow this summer in the well-worn spot that was at the bottom of the slide which was part of your recently-removed childhood swing set. It was time for the swings to go. It had been many years since you and your siblings had played there, and the play set itself was no longer trustworthy for a new generation.
Knowing all that, I still feel a tug from its absence. As kids, you and Katie and Aiden had spent some nice times out there, whether as a threesome or during backyard birthday parties. Even as you entered your teens, the swing set became an outdoor retreat for time alone or with friends.
So removing the play set erases one more source of my memories of you. Sure, I have pictures. And I love the pictures. But there’s emotional power to still having the real thing around. More likely, however, it’s part of my ongoing battle to prevent the universe from erasing you. Read the rest of this entry »
Once again, The Jonah Maccabee Foundation is thrilled to provide a grant to Mainestage Shakespeare of Kennebunk, Maine. MaineStage Shakespeare is a nonprofit theater company made up of young, passionate theater artists from around the country who believe in the benefits of the resident repertory theater company, actors who can develop their craft together to produce a creative nucleus that enriches their community-at-large. Also, through the MaineStage ShakeSTARS, MSS offers summertime training that combines actor training, theatre fun, and personal growth development that’s so important to for children growing healthy and whole.
The JMF believes passionately in the arts and their potential to help minds and spirits grow. We’re delighted to partner with Mainestage Shakespeare in bringing repertory theatre and arts education to the 23rd state.