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 @ Kutz: Dan Reichenbach

2015.06.SummerCamp“Summer Camp” is The Jonah Maccabee Foundation’s summer fundraiser for 2015. Throughout June and July 2015, we’ll be remembering — through the writing of his friends as well as some who watched from the sidelines — experiences, both great and small, that were part of Jonah’s seventeen years (from age 1 to 18) at the URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY. We’re hoping you’ll be inspired to help us help Kutz continue its wildly successful work of helping teens blaze a summer’s path to a whole, healthy life. Please consider making your tax-deductible gift at jonahmac.org. Thank you. You’re the best!


 

Dan Reichenbach remembers …

Dan and his papa

Dan and his papa

Dan Reichenbach made aliyah to Israel in 2012, completing his army service six months ago.  These days, life is filled with work at a bar on the beach, reserve duty, and plans for returning to school next year. 

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My memories of Jonah are fleeting and rose-colored, yet substantial. At 25, my summers with Jonah seem far off and distant. However, I am reminded of him often, in so many ways. When I see tall evergreens, or when I play the ukulele, or when someone quotes Monty Python. My mind’s eye pictures Jonah lying underneath the tree on Olim Hill at Eisner Camp, the sun on his face and a clump of soft grass in his hand — because those were the happiest times in my life, and I was fortunate to share them with him.

I never got to know Maccabee, as Jonah was fond of being called; rather, I knew the little Jonah Dreskin. He was a good friend in my teenage years, but he was my fellow “fac brat” (Faculty kid) and my closest friend during the summers we shared at Kutz. As young boys we would spend all day together. From chasing each other underneath the tables in the Chadar Ochel, to flopping around in the pool, smiles on our faces, Jonah and I made names for ourselves as rowdy, sometimes mischievous children at camp.

I vividly remember spending long, lazy days with Jonah, wandering all over Kutz Camp which, at the time, seemed as massive as a continent because we were so small and the world was so big. We would roll down the hill to the Teatron (the theatre), then hop up the concrete wall and push open the big stage doors. We liked to hang out in the Teatron because it was cool and a breeze rolled in off the lake. There were interesting things to see and play with. Here, a bat would swoop down. There, a snapping turtle just raised its head! Over there, the benches made for a perfect obstacle course. We would fish and catch frogs and swim and we loved life. We had wonderful parents and families and a whole camp of people who took care of us, more or less letting us run amok. Camp was paradise for us boys in those days and I think fondly of them when current days are filled with clouds.

This is one of those memories:

One day, Jonah and I had finished eating our lunch, which was of course famous Kutz camp pizza and chocolate pudding. Filled with sugar and imagination, Jonah and I took off before anyone could get a handle on what we were up to. We ran downstairs and past the canteen to the pool and tennis courts. After chasing a lizard or two around for a few minutes, our attentions were brought skyward, and here is my most vivid memory of Jonah: the two of us climbing into the high branches of the evergreens that grew on the far side of the tennis courts. It is a beautiful moment from my childhood. I remember seeing Jonah through the branches and smelling the trees sticky sap. I will never forget the wonder of that moment, just how lost we were in the climb. We were living life over the brim, and I can never go back and tell him how much it meant to me. I remember being scared to come down and not being alone in my fear. We were stuck up there for what to a five- or six-year old seemed like hours but in reality was probably only a few minutes.

Memories of those long, lazy, magical days with Jonah at Kutz and Eisner fill me with happiness. We could not possibly have been luckier. Sitting on the front porch of the Dreskin family cabin eating ice pops and looking at ants, I remember sharing with Jonah and being teased by our older siblings. I remember Jonah putting his long arm around my shoulder, as he always did, and ushering me into our next secret mission, our next game of tag, and our next cannonball.

Little Dan on patrol in his early-Kutz days

Little Dan on patrol in his early-Kutz days

Ours was a childhood of bliss. And I will cherish those memories forever, because we had loving parents and siblings and a community saturated with love and kindness. I am a better man because of the time I spent with Jonah, and I miss him terribly even now. One more jam session on the guitars, and one more late night playing Magic cards on our bunk beds, one more serious talk about Rachel or Sarah or Hannah, whichever girl was breaking our hearts that summer — these are all things I wish I still had. But I do have my memories and they are sweet. His memory is truly a blessing to me.

“Won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom? Cuz’ all I’ve ever had, Redemption songs.”

Dan

 

Do you have a memory of Jonah at Kutz? Share it as a comment below. And please donate to our “Summer Camp ‘15″ campaign at jonahmac.org/donate. Thanks!

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