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: Carolyn Minott

Although our “Summer Camp” fundraiser is over, we’ve got one more bit of writing for you. Carolyn Minott was with Jonah through many a summer at Eisner Camp, at Kutz Camp, and at NFTY-NAR events. She and Jonah loved each other in the way that best of friends do so well. Here, she captures what it was that so many of us fell in love with about Jonah. It’s heartbreaking, but that’s how the best love works when someone is tragically taken from us.


Carolyn Minott remembers …

CarolynMinott.03Carolyn is twenty-five years old. She currently attends Long Island University (LIU Post), where she works as a graduate assistant for the department of Fine Arts and will be receiving her Master’s in Art Education this coming May. In her very limited free time, Carolyn has been teaching herself to play the piano (in addition to playing the flute and guitar), painting intricate mandalas on rocks, and visiting her boyfriend in Portland, OR, as often as possible.

*     *     *

I am awake at 4:50 am, Pacific Standard Time, because of Jonah. It is 2015. He died six years ago. I don’t usually wake up with him on my mind anymore.

Sometimes I think I romanticized Jonah after his death.
Sometimes I can’t quite remember him.

Thinking back to Kutz, I realize that Jonah was the biggest, if not the only, reason I attended camp in Warwick for two of the best summers of my youth. I remember standing with him outside Eisner Camp’s Olim Beit Am one warm summer’s night in 2005, long after we should have been asleep. It was our Olim summer; our last summer as campers. The next year, we would become Machon CITs or move on from Eisner. Jonah had spent a session at Kutz earlier that same summer, and I remember him telling me how much Eisner sucked in comparison. Jonah was tired of Eisner, he had outgrown it and he thought that Kutz would be good for me. He was right.

That being said, I think that by the time we got to Kutz, Jonah was already slipping away from me. He stopped standing up during prayers. He stopped believing in God. I wasn’t yet ready for my drastic leap towards secular spiritualism; I was a few years behind the curve, and so for me, it was jarring. Probably because of how much I looked up to Jonah. Probably because of how into God I still was.

I always admired Jonah. Mostly because he didn’t give a fuck what other people thought of him, or at the very least, he didn’t let it stop him from living. He was brave. In many ways, braver than I, still. Jonah went against the grain, marching to the tune of his own drum. He had fun with the world around him, and sometimes, he let me be part of that.

I saw “A Night at the Roxbury” for the first time last week. It was a pretty bad film, but I did take something important away from it. At the beginning of the movie, the two protagonists are at a bar, and they approach an unsuspecting woman from opposite sides, and start dancing at – or more accurately, on – her. I realized that this was most probably the impetus for Jonah’s infamous dance attacks. He took the same concept – dancing on top of unsuspecting victims – and applied it to song sessions at Kutz. I was usually his counterpart in this activity. In stark contrast to the movie, our victims were always delighted by the intrusion and ended up dancing along with us. Jonah could do that. He could draw you into his world with just a smile and that mischievous twinkle in his eyes. When he included me in his plans, it was magic, because he was brilliant and daring and brave. In those moments, long before I realized that I too am brilliant, daring, and brave, I felt it, just for a second. He gave me a taste of the self-assuredness I would not possess for many years to come.

Jonah & Carolyn (NFTY-NAR Spring, April 2008)

Jonah & Carolyn (NFTY-NAR Spring, April 2008)

I remember being in K’far Teva, the nature major at Kutz, with Jonah. I think I joined mostly because I wanted to spend more time with him, but also because I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone. For the most part, it was great fun. One weekend, we all went whitewater rafting and the two of us got scorched. I remember being back at camp and sitting next to him in the Beit Am, both of us the color of cooked lobsters … miserable. But together in our painful burning, I was soothed by camaraderie, clearly more than he. I remember feeling frustrated because Jonah wouldn’t talk to me. He just sat there and pouted; cranky, silent, and scarlet. I remember being okay with that because I was just happy sitting next to him.

Every session at Kutz, on the last night of camp, we would all not sleep, together, in the Beit Am, a big modern building where we had programs and services throughout the summer. On these nights, the stage was open to anybody who wanted it. I remember Jonah would always spontaneously combust. Sometimes he would perform his famous “Makin’ a Motzi” rap, which I always sort of hated, because I thought it was kind of stupid and that he could do better comedic work. Sometimes, he would ask me to join him in the bean skit. Usually I would decline. I still haven’t fully worked through my stage fright, even now, but I do remember performing the improv skit just once … maybe he was there with me onstage, but maybe not. Either way, it was exhilarating.

In the last ten years, Jonah has changed for me many times. He has gone from being a real, tangible friend to being gone in an instant, and has become almost more present to me in his passing than he was in life (and in reality). Jonah never stopped being my role model. In fact, I believe I thought to emulate him after his death even more than I did during the course of his life. For many years, Jonah was everpresent in my life and my mind. I still carry him with me, but these days, his presence takes a different role; I feel him in flashes of memory, the warmth of other’s camaraderie, when I perform, and at the core of what Judaism means to me: choice through knowledge, acts of loving kindness, repairing the world, fighting for what is right, and following my own path towards personal growth and enlightenment.

Carolyn

 

Thanks for joining us throughout “Summer Camp ‘15.” Whether you read or donated, we’re forever grateful to have you with us. The Dreskins

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