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: Sasha Pollock

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!


 

Sasha Pollock remembers …

Sasha Pollock Sasha Pollock is from Seattle, Washington. She’s 23 years of age, attended Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Sasha grew up going to Hebrew school all throughout grade school and into high school. She became a Bat Mitzvah, was confirmed, and attended NFTY-NW events all throughout high school. Sasha attended Kutz Camp in the summers of 2007 and 2008. The summer of 2007 is when she met Jonah Maccabee Dreskin. She recently completed AmeriCorps’ City Year in Philadelphia and is now working as a camp counselor at the YMCA in Philly.

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Jonah was this young man with scruffy, reddish-brown facial hair, brown hair, and the biggest smile I’ve seen. When I first arrived to Kutz Camp, I was a little unsure about being so far away from home. That all changed when I met Jonah.

Jonah was one of the first people I got to know at Kutz. I remember meeting him through a friend of mine who knew Jonah from NFTY-NAR. Instead of shaking my hand, which is what I was accustomed to, he wrapped his arms around me and embraced me in a bear hug. That made my decision final about Kutz: I was going to love it there and enjoy every moment of it! Jonah and I quickly became friends and our friendship blossomed over the course of the summer.

I remember we were in Teva together, the outdoor programming track, and one time we went white-water rafting. On the trip to our site, Jonah was Mr. Social. That’s one thing I loved about him; Jonah was willing to meet and talk with anyone and everyone. He was the friendliest person. Once we arrived to our rafting site and everyone was getting ready, our RA’s (resident advisors) told us to put on sunblock because it was such a hot day and we’d be on water. I don’t know if Jonah hadn’t heard the RA’s or if he just didn’t care. Most of the guys, Jonah included, by about a quarter of the way into the trip were rafting shirtless. It was a long trip and I remember that, by the end, Jonah was as red as a tomato. But he didn’t care; he just had the biggest smile on his face.

Jonah and I grew really close throughout camp. He was the one I went to when I needed to talk. I could approach Jonah with anything that was on my mind: life problems, camp problems, achievements, anything. Jonah was so open. We were once in a cabin with another friend, just hanging out and talking. It wasn’t about anything in particular, but it is a memory that I’ll cherish forever.

Sasha & Jonah (Kutz 2007)

Sasha & Jonah (Kutz 2007)

At Kutz, there is a climbing tower that everyone in camp was challenged to try and reach the top. I don’t like heights, but Jonah encouraged me to do it. He was so supportive and cheered me on, even while I was in tears. I was so scared to come back down, but knowing that Jonah was going to be down there waiting for me comforted me. He told me, “You’re going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay. Trust me, you’ll be fine.” That has always stuck with me.

In the summer of 2008, Jonah worked on the kitchen staff. I was sad because, now that he had job responsibilities, I didn’t get to see him as much and, when we did, we couldn’t be our normal selves, goofing off and talking well into the night. But I did get to see Jonah grow up. Having the position of kitchen staff made me see how precious the summer before was and how I will always cherish those memories we made. Jonah really grew up in between the two summers. He was still, of course, his goofy, loving, friendly, outgoing, lively self. But once he hit the kitchen, he was all business. I admired that about Jonah, how he worked hard but didn’t let his work consume him. He didn’t let it get in the way of who he was.

Jonah lived every moment as if it were precious, like he’d never get it back. Jonah appreciated the small things and he never took the big things for granted. He loved hugs, music, his friends and family. Jonah had this sense about him that he had no enemies. Everyone loved and loves Jonah. He was dedicated to Judaism, Kutz and the friends he had there. I’m so grateful that I made the decision to go to Kutz for those summers and that I had the honor of meeting Jonah.

Kutz gave me a new outlook on life. Some of its values have followed me into my adult life. Today, I have the power of choice through knowledge. Kutz is an amazing place for young adults to come together, share in their Judaism, have fun, make lifelong memories and lifelong friends.

Like Jonah.

Sasha

 

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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