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: Melissa Frey, Director

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!


 

Melissa Frey remembers …

MelissaFrey.01Melissa Frey has served as director of the URJ Kutz Camp since 2008.

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Remembering Jonah
My View from Kutz

There are hundreds of stories I have heard about Jonah’s formative years at Kutz. Spending summers here as a faculty “brat,” Jonah-stories are still among some of the very best about the precious and precocious children who grew up in this place. And while I love the stories and share in the joy of retelling some of the greats, I didn’t know Jonah as a child. I knew Jonah as a charismatic, outgoing, determined and creative Avodahnik during the summer of 2008, my first summer as the director of Kutz. As a first-year member of our staff, and an entering freshman in college, the Jonah I knew was a remarkable young adult.

Jonah worked that summer as a member of the kitchen staff, and brought his personality with him to work every single day. I remember with great fondness some of the highlights. Dish pit races where competitions to see who could finish cleaning after the meal the fastest (and cleanest) were held to Olympic standards. Being part of the team that stepped up – so all of camp could enjoy the closing-night banquet under the stars in the Willows – by moving every table and chair from the dining hall outside to the Willows, and then sanitizing them before they came back into the main building. I also remember the great 5-gallon milk bag spill that drenched Jonah from head to toe on a very hot summer day and subsequently covered a 20-foot area of the dining hall with a thin coat of rapidly warming milk. Jonah was the first to get a mop, and his fellow staff members followed him to help. Regardless of the circumstance, Jonah was always surrounded by people he cared for, and who cared deeply for him.

It was so impressive the day Jonah and a group of his friends came to my office to share their vision for Avodah Fun Day (known to 90% of camp as Trip Day), the one day everyone leaves camp and the Avodah cohort stays behind to partake in a variety of site-related work and create something special for camp, a surprise for the rest of the community that is their legacy to leave behind. At a camp known for its deep Jewish learning, incredible art and music programs, meaningful work around inclusion and advocacy, all steeped in leadership through a lens of Reform Jewish values, their idea seemed nothing short of surprising: Mercaz HaSport. They wanted Kutz to have its own sports center. So we put the plans in motion to build a Gaga pit, sand a volleyball court, install new backboards for portable basketball hoops, and spruce up the tennis courts. In one day. And they did it. It was amazing!

On the final Shabbat morning of the session, following tefilah, the entire community sang and walked together to the highest point in camp where we gathered together to bless this sacred space. With the collective amen and the blow of a whistle, what felt nothing less than the Kutz sports dynasty of 2008 had come to life. There was such pride that day. And that space remains an important part of our community. So much so, that this summer, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary at Kutz on July 4, 2015, we will rededicate the newly refurbished Mercaz HaSport. As our summer 2015 participants, staff, and faculty gather together with hundreds of alumni, I am confident that Jonah will be there with us as well, smiling at one of so many indelible legacies he left with so many of us.

How blessed is this place, how blessed am I, to have had the opportunity to be a part of Jonah’s journey.

Melissa

 

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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