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: Michelle Lesco

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!


Michelle Lesco remembers …

MichelleLesco.01aMichelle Lesco is a freelance photographer who lives in Sydney, Australia. She specializes in natural light photography and describes herself as “part artist, part activist” because the world’s too important a place to only take from it without giving back. See Michelle’s work at Let’s Go Lesco Photos.

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Here are two stories. They’re my strongest, happiest memories with Jonah.

1) There was an afternoon of shrieking in my cabin. Not so unusual at Kutz, or any summer camp, but I thought I should probably take a look. Of all things, I found a frog to be the culprit. A frog Jonah had picked up and put in my cabin to freak out my girls. Mischievous? You know it! Hysterical? I’ll give him that. I guess he forgot though that I love frogs and wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up and play with it, so that’s just what I did. I brought it right back outside to him and we laughed because his plan had so obviously failed. Our summer on staff together was easily my favorite one. Jonah was always full of surprises.

2) There was one summer when I was a camper where I’m proud to proclaim that we got “Lap Tag” banned. It was 2005, the summer Jonah and I had met. The reason it got banned was because of the number of injuries people walked away with … all in good fun though. Who hasn’t tripped walking in a rush down the hill at one time or another? It was this summer, 2005, that laid the foundation for our friendship.

Lap Tag (Kutz 2005)

Lap Tag (Kutz 2005)

When playing lap tag, as we so often did, the group sits in a circle with a partner sitting in his/her lap. One person stands in the middle and points to two or three pairings. Of these pairings, the kid in the front is supposed to get up and run to tag the person in the middle. The tricky part is that the kid sitting behind you is fighting to hold you there so basically the center person gets to watch the group struggle until someone reaches the center. If you manage to tag the person in the middle, you become that middle person and the middle person you tagged sits behind your old partner. The game continues.

Jonah was awesome at this game. He and I always ended up being partners no matter how many summers went by. It took years for him to be able to beat me at it and I loved teasing him about that.

The last time we played was in 2008, a few years after it had been banned. Ironically, it was during staff week and after curfew when a bunch of us went down to the Beit Am to play – some Avodahnikim, some RAs, and even some faculty. Clearly Jonah and I were going to end up competing against each other anyway, so we paired off for old times’ sake. During one of the rounds, he sat in front of me and we struggled for a while, wrestling with rug burn and tickling before he just stood up and walked to the center, tagging whoever was there … with me still attached to his back. It was hysterical. And it matches our friendship in every way – Jonah was very much a mischievous little brother to me. I’d never had a younger sibling and he was a pro at pushing buttons and making you laugh while simultaneously annoying you just enough.



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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