While some knew him as Jonah and others as Mac, we all loved and respected him. And we miss him dearly.

Want to receive posts via email?
Subscribe here.

If you see the “bell icon” in the lower-right hand corner of your screen, you can sign up for screen notifications that will appear when we post something new.Image result for onesignal

To purchase our magnificent recording, "So Is Life," visit jonahmac.org/so-is-life.

The Jonah Maccabee Foundation, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations. Our Federal tax ID # is 45-1736178.

Tweets

Father’s Day

I’ve just returned home from 24 hours in Buffalo, NY. I was there for a wedding (a really nice guy named Dave married Katie’s “twin sister” Brooke) but I knew I was going to be looking for Jonah. It was precisely where I needed to be on this first Fathers Day without him.

Even at age 1, Jonah was thinking outside the box! September 1991

Even at age 1, Jonah was thinking outside the box!
September 1991

After the ceremony, I drove to the North Campus of the University at Buffalo where Jonah was loving being a student.  I know … since when did Jonah ever love being a student?  Well, the scoop there is that Jonah always loved being a student.  Just ask anyone at Summit High School or at Woodlands Community Temple.  Jonah was always listening, always thinking, and always had something worthwhile to contribute to the class.  Some people thought he was just joking around.  They missed it.  Jonah may have been making jokes, but he was always tuned into the matter at hand.  He was as natural a learner as there could be.  And if you’ve ever been lucky enough to talk with him about something that mattered, you quickly understood that this was one smart kid.  He wasn’t always that way, mind you (even if he said he was).  He had to learn what he knew.  And too often, he did so in spite of the schools that thought they could teach him.

Jonah loved school. What Jonah detested was school systems that catered to mass production, school systems that rarely stepped outside their pre-fabricated walls of one-size-fits-all learning, schools that took care of those who excelled within their system and those who trailed behind everyone else. What Jonah resented most about school systems was when they refused to acknowledge the individual learning styles and spirits of the many students who showed up each day … stuck between the two extremes.Well, the scoop there is that Jonah always loved being a student. always tuned into the matter at hand. He was as natural a learner as there could be. And if you’ve ever been lucky enough to talk with him about something that mattered, you quickly understood that this was one smart kid. He wasn’t always that way, mind you (even if he said he was). He had to learn what he knew. And too often, he did so in spite of the schools that thought they could teach him. Once Jonah got to a school that recognized the value of ensuring each and every member of the community was appreciated for wanting to learn, he thrived. He thrived at Summit High School. He thrived at Woodlands Community Temple. He thrived at Kutz Camp. And he thrived at UB.

Study @ L'taken in DC to prepare to lobby? Oh sir. December 2006

Study @ L’taken in DC to prepare to lobby? Oh sir.
December 2006

I used to love taking Jonah on in my tenth grade Confirmation class. Whether it was to debate the existence of God, the value of Torah or the destiny of the Jewish people, he loved taking me on right back! What I especially loved about Jonah was that he was never mean-spirited in his attempts to beat me down. Nor did he grandstand for the sake of attention. Did I mention that Jonah loved learning? Given the opportunity to work through an idea, to be respected for trying out an idea aloud, Jonah jumped right in. And in doing so, he inspired others to jump in as well. Throughout that tenth grade year, it was like he was my teaching assistant, helping open up dialogue so that everyone felt comfortable with the learning.

At UB, Jonah had been taking a course called “Science and Religion.” During his December break, he was so animated presenting to me his thoughts on the compatible intersection of science and religion – the notion that both could live side-by-side without either compromising its essence – I asked him if he would share his ideas with my Confirmation class before returning to Buffalo. He agreed, and for several days he’d check in with me to show me how he would introduce the discussion, what questions he’d be asking, and what backup materials he’d have on hand in case things slowed down. I was so delighted! First, to have something about which he and I could speak in depth. And second, to see him so interested in teaching this class. For ninety minutes, Jonah talked science and religion with my thirty students. You could say it was a religious experience for me: I was in heaven!

A few weeks ago, I sat with my Confirmands for our very last class together. I thanked them for being with me, and by me, during the nightmare of losing my son. But then they thanked me. They had been so honored to be present at that session last January when “this really cool college kid came and taught us.” They thought he was amazing, and felt especially lucky to have experienced Jonah’s growing love for teaching, a love from which they would be among the very few to benefit.

I don’t know what Jonah would have chosen as his career. But if you force me to pick something, I’ll tell you it would have been education. Lucky dad who had the good sense to become a rabbi just so one day he’d be able to witness this extraordinary moment between my tenth-graders-trying-to-figure-out-who-they-were-going-to-be and my beloved-son-taking-his-first-steps-acknowledging-that-he-had-indeed-figured-out-who-he-was-becoming.

On March 5, 2009, the world may have lost one of its future favorite college professors. But me, I had just found Jonah Maccabee Dreskin beginning to make his professorship come to pass. Is that what he would have done? Can’t be sure. But on this Father’s Day, a brief trip to Buffalo sent me home with the precious gift of knowing that whatever path he would eventually have chosen, this dad had always been proud and always would have been proud.

Thanks for all my Father’s Days, JoJo.

Billy

3 Responses to “Father’s Day”

  • That is one of the things I love best about being a member of Woodlands – you can just BE. You don't have to conform or put on airs or pretend to be something you're not.
    Whoever you are, as a member of WCT, you'll get something out of your experience there. And everyone has something to contribute as well.
    We were lucky to be able to share Jonah's presence and how he just WAS.

  • Anonymous:

    “This really cool college kid” made an amazing impression on my daughter who had the honor of being in Billy's confirmation class this year. When I signed my teenagers out of school for the funeral, many of the other parents (and there were many – the attendance lady's desk was piled high with excuse notes) crowding the hall outside the nurse's office were confirmand parents. Although most of the students were too young to have known Jonah well, we all had the same story of how much Jonah had touched the lives of our kids by being their teacher for 90 minutes that day in January. The confirmands know that Billy lost someone extraordinarily special this year and are grateful to Billy for sharing so many wonderful stories of Jonah's life with them.

  • “Once Jonah got to a school that recognized the value of ensuring each and every member of the community was appreciated for wanting to learn, he thrived. He thrived at Summit High School”

    Jonah was Summit. From roaming the halls saying hi to everyone, to convincing me that english would be worth it when I could come back and rub my degree in Jeannes face (I stated I would rather shove it down her throat until Jonah made a very good point that if I did that, I wouldn't get it back.)
    Jonah was an amazing person and made my time at Summit some of the best times I've had. We are the kids who did things differently, the untraditional way. But Summit helped us thrive and Jonah was a big part of that. I wasn't surprised when the principal, his wife, the guidance counselor, and a teacher or two showed to pay their respects. We all loved Jonah, he made school and life fun.

Leave a Reply

Archives
Recent Comments