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

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Jonah @ PGT: Abby Fried

“Jonah’s Years at PGT” is The Jonah Maccabee Foundation’s autumn fundraiser for 2013. Throughout November and December 2013, we’ll be remembering, mainly through the writing of his friends, some of the great fun and growing Jonah experienced at PGT. We’re hoping you’ll be inspired to help us provide other kids with similarly loving direction along the road to wholeness during their own childhood years. Please consider making your tax-deductible gift at jonahmac.org by Sunday, January 5, 2014. Okay, or any other time. Thank you. You’re the best!


Abby Fried remembers …

WritersPix.AbbyFried.photo by KDreskin

Abby Fried is graduating from NYU Tisch in December of 2013. She is currently involved in the start-up of a producing company focused around rock climbing. She also works in projects specializing in special effects makeup and other gory, fun scary things.

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I first met Jonah when I was in the eighth grade while I was in The Prince and the Pauper. Jonah was a production assistant through our week of tech and for our four performances. As far as I know, Jonah had one job: hitting a wooden spoon to a pot as a nap [sound effect] for someone getting hit on stage.

What I remember best … he was always late.

I remember him excitedly bouncing side to side in the wings in anticipation of his cue. Then the wind-up would happen. Then the hit would happen. THEN Jonah would hit the pot. Every time without fail, and yet, he had the best attitude about it. He would smile really wide, wink at me and say “Next time.” I think he hit it once. During a rehearsal. In typical Jonah fashion, it never bothered him and he would always smile about it. “Next time.” Jonah was ever the optimist. He was also extremely funny, and never failed to make me laugh. Most importantly, though, is how dedicated Jonah was.

The following story doesn’t actually take place at PGT, but it was right in the middle of The Secret Garden rehearsals (which Jonah and I were in during my freshman year of high school, his junior year). My temple Confirmation class was going on a trip to Washington, DC, and we were lucky enough to share a bus with the Woodlands temple group (Jonah’s). I didn’t have a lot of friends going with me, but Jonah took me under his wing to hang out with him and his friends. He played guitar (this was the first time I would hear him play and sing “Over the Rainbow” – there was much more of that to come). He would also sit with me at dinner, and check up on me to make sure I was having a good time. Jonah was also my automatic “buddy” if we needed one, even though he was three years older and I thought he would be embarrassed hanging out with a freshman (he wasn’t).

Jonah'sYears@PGT.2013.11.BlogAd.Final.largeMy favorite memory from this trip started after we were all sent to our rooms for the night. Jonah was going to sneak out of his room and come hang out with me and my roommates after our “guards” had left their posts. I told him I’d call when they left, and I did, but to no answer. As a teenage girl, I worried he realized I was just a lame freshman and I went to bed. The next morning I woke up and went down to breakfast. Shortly after sitting down, Jonah joined me. Before I could even register the apology coming out of his mouth, I noticed a huge red mark on his cheek. Apparently, Jonah had fallen asleep with his face on his phone, waiting for me to call. Jonah was so dedicated to his promise, he literally fell asleep on top of his phone … and he had the red mark to prove it.

This, Jonah with the huge red mark on his cheek, is what I remember as my “iconic Jonah moment.” Jonah was so sweet, and so dedicated. He was like that with his friends, and with all his work at PGT. It’s what made him an excellent actor, and an even better friend.

Abby or Julia? Posted on Facebook (Jan 2007)

Abby or Julia?
Posted on Facebook (Jan 2007)

Jonah and I became very close during The Secret Garden, and I have a lot of great memories from that time – from watching Jonah learn ballroom dancing, to jokes made backstage, and making faces at each other during notes (Jonah’s were always funnier than my own). My favorite memory, though, was a picture Jonah took and tagged me in on Facebook. There was a very close-up photograph which he had tagged as being me and that I swore was Julia Goldberg. She and I had a good laugh about it being EXTREMELY close to her face. But then Jonah added (very matter-of-factly, I would imagine) that the picture was actually of me. He posted several details of how he knew it was not Julia, and that it was in fact me. And naturally, he was right. At this point, I don’t know why I was ever surprised by his dedication, particularly to proving a point, but more specifically to his friends.

The last time I saw Jonah was December 2008. Aiden was in Urinetown [at PGT, we date everything by shows and seasons] and I had gone with my parents to see it. Jonah was ushering with Jimmy Sorrow, and I decided to hang around with them pre-show.

There was a podium with a basket of nametag pins in it. It was Jonah’s idea to take them out and assume several different identities while taking tickets. We’d all switch around nametags. We played out the characters we were making up. The show started shortly after and we abandoned Beth, Emily and Joe (our new names, of course) to sit with our respective parents. We met up again at the end of the show, just as us. Before leaving, I got a big Jonah bear hug and we promised to see each other again when he was home next.

Jonah and Abby backstage "The Secret Garden" (Jan 2007)

Jonah and Abby backstage
“The Secret Garden” (Jan 2007)

Jonah made PGT a fun place to be. I was always happy to have a rehearsal with him, and seeing him there always brightened my day. If you were upset, he always knew how to make you feel better, and he was great for making up fun stories. He’d also spin you around, or make funny faces and was just always happy to be there and around you. I can’t ever remember seeing Jonah unhappy at PGT. He loved sharing what made him happy.

Most of all, I remember his classic bear hugs. They were there to greet me, and to say goodbye, at every rehearsal. His arms were so big he would just envelop you and it always felt safe and comfortable.

What I remember most is the feeling of him kissing my cheek for every picture we were in together, the feeling of how his laughs always made me smile, and the feeling of his stories, of his passion, his hugs, and how good it felt to be around him. And, of course, how lucky I am to have been his friend, and for him to have been mine.



P.S. Please give generously to our Autumn 2013 campaign at jonahmac.org. As always, we are ever grateful for your friendship and support.

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