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: Brenne Rimberg

“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!


Brenne Rimberg remembers …

Brenne Rimberg (shouldering a very hairy Jonah)

Brenne Rimberg
(shouldering a very hairy Jonah)
“Hair,” June 2008

Brenne Rimberg is a New York-based actress and a recent graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her recent credits include: The National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof and a reading of Unknowing Grace at Primary Stages, starring Connie Shulman (Orange Is The New Black). Brenne first discovered her artistic passion as a third grader at Play Group Theatre, where she performed with Jonah Dreskin in a production of Hair in the Spring of 2008. Brenne is ever grateful for her childhood at PGT, and the lifelong friends she made there.

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Most of my memories of Jonah are in rehearsal for Hair, or onstage with him in the show. He was always, hands down, the silliest person in the room. He was either throwing himself through the choreography with all of his might, knowing that his energy was contagious, and hilarious, all at the same time. Or he was lending a huge, quiet hug to whatever tearful, overworked high school senior needed it most.

He was surprising that way. Jonah had this ability to be silly and rambunctious one minute, and then still, and incredibly thoughtful, the next. Turns out he was really both at the same time, but to watch him be one way and then the other was always surprising, yet sincere. It might sound cliche, but I’m realizing as I get older and move further away from my childhood at PGT, that there are not many people in this world who are as fun as they are kind, or who are as passionate as they are thoughtful. Jonah was a gem this way.

Jonah'sYears@PGT.2013.11.BlogAd.Final.largeI think my favorite memory of working on Hair with Jonah was when Jill had me climb on his shoulders for the first time. We had been blocking [“Hippie Life”] that belty diva song I sang with Anya. I was standing on a block behind him, spotted by tiny Jill and maybe Kyle. Jonah bent down to lift me up, and in one swift motion lifted me up onto his shoulders, let go of my legs, and started doing a wave-like snake dance with his arms. Jill had a near heart attack, but Jonah was confident that between his sheer strength and impeccable balance, I was not going anywhere. After a few minutes of what turned into Jonah gliding around the room with me on his shoulders doing the wave-like snake dance with his arms, Jill figured out a way for the boys to get me down for the next part of the song without Jonah flinging me into the audience yelling, “Catch her!” trusting that the audience would be as strong and as balanced and as spontaneous as he was.

The truth is, after that first rehearsal, I never worried about that stunt we did together. Although being high up was not a vantage point I was, or am, used to, Jonah had this way of making me trust him. He had my back. If we were to teeter or come close to crashing, I knew he would have made sure I came down softly before he crashed into something, calling it “nothing,” and getting right back on his feet again. Jonah was not afraid, and his fearlessness made those around him less afraid.

I feel lucky to have known Jonah, to have grown up a little with him, and to have been carried on his shoulders, if only a few times, without a worry in the world.


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