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: Yoni Bronstein

“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!


Yoni Bronstein remembers …


Yoni Bronstein grew up in White Plains, New York, and is the proud son of Rabbi Les Bronstein and Cantor Benjie Schiller. He studied theater and philosophy at Brandeis University and now lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Jonah and I went back a long way. We knew each other through our parents’ singing group, and went to each other’s Bar Mitzvahs. When Jonah came to the Play Group Theatre, I was excited. Now we could really get to know each other at PGT, which, in my opinion, is the best place in the world to get to know someone.

Jonah and I were only in two productions together, but both felt like very special shows at PGT. The first was The Laramie Project, about the kidnap and murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. It was a big cast, and everyone had many parts to play. These parts included all kinds of people; the countless, diverse residents of Laramie, the interviewers, and people directly involved in the case: witnesses, detectives, and perpetrators. Among his many roles, Jonah played the young man who found Matthew, and one of the two kidnappers. It was clear that these roles were a huge challenge for Jonah, but his performances are clear in my memory. He told those two stories in a way that only someone with his sensitivity and depth of feeling could do.

Jonah'sYears@PGT.2013.11.BlogAd.Final.largeOur second show together was Marvin’s Room, the story of a woman with cancer reconnecting with her family. This production was very different from what most of us were used to at PGT. Unlike the musicals with casts of twenty or thirty, this was a straight play with a cast of seven people. We all felt very close to one another, and we knew that being in this particular PGT cast was a great privilege. In this intimate setting, Jonah and I became closer than we’d ever been. I think I speak for the other members of the cast when I say that of the many things that I remember about Jonah, I’ll always especially remember him as part of the Marvin’s Room family.

It was easy to let your hair down with Jonah, and sometimes it felt as though that was the reason we were at rehearsal in the first place. Speaking as a kid who relished goofing off during rehearsal, some off the most fun I had was with him. I can remember many times where he’d smile at me, we’d trade weird stories, and do something goofy, like run in slow motion to the tune of a piano ballad. And then we’d put a serious face on and get to work.

The men of "Marvin's Room" (May 2007) Yoni, Ben and Jonah

The men of “Marvin’s Room” (May 2007)
Yoni, Ben and Jonah

The last time I saw Jonah was at a PGT rehearsal for Urinetown the year after he graduated. It was just a few months before his death. I can remember how happy he was to be back in PGT’s old studios at the White Plains Mall, beaming from ear to ear. Jonah had come back and it was like he had never left, even if it was only for one night. He still belonged there as much as anybody. And he still does.



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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