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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“He Would Have Done That, Anyway!”

TixOnSale.JonahConcert2015.WebPhotoLast night, my wife and children joined me once again with our friends and community in celebrating Jonah’s life and the things he loved (music, being Jewish, and helping others) by welcoming two great performance entities – Billy Jonas and The Levins – for the 6th Annual Jonah Maccabee Concert. What a beautiful evening, with music even more wonderful than I had imagined!

Ellen and I greeted our guests with the celebration of Havdalah (the Jewish ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat) and shared the following words and stories to get things going. As always, Jonah’s at the center, bringing a smile and leading us to lovely, sweet places of the heart.

Billy


Shortly after Jonah died, and after one particularly good cry, I sighed, “Oh, Jonah. You are gonna wear me out.” Katie (quoting from one of her favorite childhood books, Clotilda) commented, “He would have done that anyway.”

Clotilda.JackKent.01Clotilda is this wonderful little story about a boy named Tommy, who, along with his sister Betty, meets a fairy godmother named Clotilda. Betty is delighted and quite taken with Clotilda, but Tommy, a cynic at age six, responds to Clotilda’s magic – she transforms a caterpillar into a butterfly, and an acorn into an oak tree – with an unimpressed dismissal, “It would have done that anyway!”

Later in the book, Clotilda turns Tommy into a donkey, saying, “He would have done that anyway!” She then explains, “The world is full of magic and anyone who can’t appreciate it is a donkey!”

Jonah was magical. His humor, his tigger-like bounce, and the love that he brought into our world was pure wizardry. None of it required a wand or an incantation, but it was so very special, and we never, ever grew tired of it.

Jonah'sGifts2DadHere’s a quick example. I always told my kids, “For my birthday or Hanukkah, you don’t have to ever spend a penny on me. Just make me something.” Jonah went to town with that idea, perhaps because he loved saving money, but also because he loved the offbeat nature of a homemade gift. I can’t really tell you what he made because I’m not really sure what they were. Each one involved boxes, duct tape, aluminum foil, string, and even pieces of plastic melted together.

Some involved candles. I remember one where we lit the candle inside which, before the cardboard box that housed it caught on fire, radiated points of light that shone through the tiny holes he’d punched into the top. I loved these gifts and still treasure them today because of their creativity, their zaniness, and the feeling of love that was transmitted from my son to his dad.

Jonah was magic. And you can bet we appreciated it, and him.

Havdalah invokes blessings that express appreciation for this magic, for the gifts we receive throughout our lives – gifts like food, shelter and clothing, and the less tangible ones like laughter, understanding and love. Through wine, spices and fire (Jonah would add, “Definitely fire!”), we give thanks for the nourishing ingredients of our lives. Havdalah affirms that we’re no Tommy, responding with a blase “So what?” to these great, everyday events.

To the contrary, we give our thanks for the magic. It might have happened anyway, but we feel so lucky to be part of life’s extraordinary experiences, to appreciate them for their sheer magnificence, and to do what we can to give a little back. For tonight’s music, our shared friendship, the ability to help kids go to camp, and a beautiful, little synagogue community in which all of this can happen – we thank you … for being with us, and for joining us on the journey.

Billy


Afterword:

In life, we love and we laugh, but we also lose and we cry. In short, we live. We can’t have only the good, and that’s hard. But we get the good, and that’s fantastic! We don’t have to be happy about what hurts us, but we do (I think) need to find joy in all the good that still remains. It’s been a difficult lesson for me to learn these past six years, but Jonah really has led the way. He filled his life with wonder; I endeavor each day to do the same.

Billy


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After-afterword:

If you’re interested, here’s the program from the concert.

What a great evening! See you next year!

Billy

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