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: Julia Breskin

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!


Julia Breskin remembers …

Julia and one of the Billys, her dad

Julia and one of the Billys, her dad

Julia Breskin is living in Washington, DC, after five years in Greensboro, NC, where she graduated from Guilford College in 2014. After receiving a degree in Community Justice Studies and Art History, she is making steps toward working in the arts. Julia attended Kutz from 2007 to 2009, and has participated in URJ programs since. This summer, she is leading the Mitzvah Corps El Salvador trip after staffing other Mitzvah Corps trips the two summers prior.

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“The Breskin-Dreskin Connection”

It’s hard to think about Kutz and not think about Jonah. The impression he made on camp is permanent, just as it is on me and on those who knew him. Our friendship began in 2007 during my first (of three) summers at Kutz but, as we found out a few weeks into camp, our history goes back farther than that.

During the first few weeks of first session, I found myself making fast friends with a group of wonderful teens from all over the country. Jonah was one of them, and with me being the youngest of the group, we bonded in a different way. Like an older brother, he liked to push my buttons while simultaneously supporting me during my first summer at a new camp, a place he had spent his whole life. He had this particular talent for making me laugh when he could tell I was feeling nervous about a new experience. While camp friendships were forming quickly, none of us had learned each other’s last name. All of these new best friends, and we only knew first names! It wasn’t until roll call on Trip Day that we heard our last names for the first time. The counselors went down the list and called my name, “Julia Breskin.” Before I could yell “Here,” Jonah jumped up from the seat in front of me, spun around and said, “My last name is Dreskin! And I’m pretty sure I’ve heard your name before. Is your dad Billy Breskin?”

Jonah loved the slackline! Kutz Camp, July 2008

Julia snapped this shot of Jonah on the slackline (Kutz 2008)

In seconds, we were on the phone with our respective Billys, my dad and his, putting together the puzzle pieces. Back in 1975, Bill Breskin and Billy Dreskin had both stepped onto campus at the University of Michigan. They were housed in the same dormitory, on the same hallway, and their campus phone numbers were only one number different. They even had a few of the same classes together. Just as Jonah and I had done thirty-two years later, the Billys bonded quickly and really enjoyed each other’s company. In time, they each transferred to another school and, over the year, lost touch, But at the end of camp in 2007, they saw each other again for the first time in thirty years, and a friendship was renewed.

After that first summer, the Breskins and Dreskins always kicked off camp with lunch in Warwick before pulling up Bowen Road to Kutz. This is the time of year I think about Jonah the most, missing him at those lunches and around Kutz. I will never forget seeing him bounce around camp, bringing smiles everywhere he went. He taught me about our shared family history, but also so much more: how to walk on a slack line, what dance moves and lyrics came next during Shabbat song session, and how to love your camp friends deeply, even for a few weeks a year.

I got to know Jonah well those few summers we were together at camp, giving me memories that will last forever — memories that connect our families in a friendship that I hope lasts just as long.



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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