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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To purchase the music of So Is Life and Beged Kefet," visit jonahmac.org/music.

The Jonah Maccabee Foundation, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations. Our Federal tax ID # is 45-1736178.

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Rabbi Jen Gubitz: Ten Years Later (Part 6)

Jonah’s death ten years ago commenced a journey for many of us that has been filled with sadness (of course) but also with love — so much love. With this campaign, “10 Years Later,” you’re invited to spend some time with some of Jonah’s best friends and teachers.

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Meet Rabbi Jennifer Gubitz.

Jen serves as a rabbi at Temple Israel of Boston where she runs the Riverway Project, whose mission is to connect 20s and 30s to Judaism and to each other. She is a proud product of Indiana University’s Borns Jewish Studies Program and URJ Goldman Union Camp (GUCI). In 2005, she was co-songleader at URJ Kutz Camp with Chana Rothman where they had the pleasure of knowing Jonah Dreskin. Jen lives in Boston with her partner Matan.

Jen writes:

The day Jonah was buried, I was assigned to lead morning tefillah at Hebrew Union College in New York. I was a 2nd-year rabbinical student AND it was Purim. While my heart was pulling me to be in Westchester for his funeral, my responsibilities were pushing me to stay at school. It all seemed like a fluke — Jonah wasn’t supposed to be dead and 2nd-year students weren’t supposed to be in charge of Purim tefillah.

What I learned in that moment is that I carry with me, personally and professionally as I live from Purim to Purim, the teaching at the epicenter of holiday: Va’na’hafokh hu, the upside-down, inside-out nature of being human.

Many people I encounter would prefer to walk through this world zipped up, polite, confined to social norms, limited by what others think, or trying to meet proscribed expectations set out for them by society. We do this, I think, to find balance and control, to counter the real truth that, more often than not, life actually feels upside-down, flipped, what is good and what is bad are often indiscernible and inexplicably intertwined with the other. Perhaps if we live outwardly in a certain way (we think,) others won’t know the inner entanglement we experience.

On that Purim day, I had to find within myself a capacity to hold the jest and joy of Purim alongside the great grief of Jonah’s departure from this world. We had to let our inner experience and feelings for Jonah be present and public.

Purim gave us permission.

If we lived every day as if it were both Purim and the funeral of someone we love, we would see in each other’s face both joy and grief, both delight and desolation — the breadth of the human experience. Perhaps then humanity will become more gracious, kind, loving and understanding to our fellow person.

Somehow I think Jonah would take delight in the concept of a Purim funeral … as long as he could play a dirge on his ukelele.

Jen

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We all miss that boy. It’ll probably always hurt that he’s gone. But he left us so much, and that’s what these writings express. Watch for them in emails and postings throughout the month. Our hope is that these stories will inspire you to make your gift at jonahmac.org/donate to help us help kids build whole, healthy lives.We continue to miss Jonah and to feel grateful: a) that we had him in our lives; and, b) that he’s inspired us to do good stuff in his name. We’re incredibly honored that you’ve joined us in our work and thank you in advance for donating to our Summer Campaign.

Very sincerely,
Ellen, Billy, Aiden, Katie and Mark
The Jonah Maccabee Foundation

ALSO ALSO ALSO … The Jonah Maccabee Foundation is so proud to now be the beneficiaries of the proceeds from four exceptional musical recordings:

“So Is Life” was recorded by (ta da!) So Is Life, which includes Dan Nichols, Josh Nelson, Cantor Rosalie Boxt and Cantor Ellen Dreskin. It’s a magnificent album and is available to you as a download and on CD (if anyone still has a CD player). You can order So Is Life right here.

And now, you can order the music of Beged Kefet (which, for you youngsters out there, was a Jewish performance group that Ellen and Billy were in for a good 20 years or so). Beged Kefet recorded three albums, all now available to you! Our thanks to the members of Beged Kefet — Beth Sher, Cantor Leon Sher, Cantor Riki Lippitz, Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller, Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Rabbi Les Bronstein and Rabbi Billy Dreskin — for allowing us to use the proceeds from their three recordings to help kids build whole, healthy lives. You can order your Beged Kefet digital downloads here. We’re also streaming, so check us out on Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to music!

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