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.


Simone Woolis: Ten Years Later (Part 14)

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 Simone Woolis.

Simone is a barista/bartender living in Brooklyn. She spends her free time writing, listening to music, walking around the city, and taking way too many pictures of her cats. She’s working on becoming a Peer Mentor to youth struggling with mental health issues, and hopes she can help others as much as Jonah helped her.

Simone writes:

The number ten can be incredibly significant. It’s a decade. It’s the first age that we’re in the double digits. It’s over half the amount of years Jonah was alive. It’s the age I realized I wasn’t like other kids my age, which is something Jonah and I bonded over. It’s significant, and scary, and beautiful.

He was always there, and I didn’t realize it (at least not consciously) until after he died. The year we became best friends I focused more on the way he could just look at me and calm me down, or how he would look at me with such smug on his face I wanted to slap it off. Because with all of his faults, and all of my faults, we were a pair of perfect misfits, and we found a haven in which to thrive with each other.

He was there when I first started Hebrew School. He was there at every temple event. He was there playing the shofar which was, admittedly, sometimes the only thing I enjoyed when I went to a service on the High Holy Days. He was there (the summer after 7th grade) when we went on Reconnections together. His presence was perhaps not always welcome on the trip, however I still felt safe around him. I could feel that he was struggling, and that it was coming out in ways he couldn’t help, which I understand on a very visceral level. He was there at my Bat Mitzvah. He was there for Confirmation. He was there on my first Midnight Run.

He was there for our senior year of high school. He was there every morning on the bus, always plopping down and falling back asleep listening to his headphones in a row ahead of me so he could stretch his legs. He was there when we got more comfortable with each other and he would sometimes stretch his legs out on my lap as we both fell asleep on the bus ride to Summit. He was there when I had a particularly rough night and needed to snuggle and rest my head on his unfairly comfortable shoulders in the morning. He was there when I would breathe in his morning melody and he rocked the anxiety out of me. He was there when I graduated high school, the only person from Ardsley I actually graduated with.

And then all of a sudden, he wasn’t there. He wasn’t there on the ten-minute drive to my house from school where it was confirmed he was gone.

He just. Wasn’t. There.

Now, after ten years of not seeing his face in person, after ten years without hearing his voice, ten years of not hearing him nag me, ten years of him not here to hold my hand tangibly, I’ve come to the realization that actually, despite my cynicism and sometimes ever relenting denial, he’s still there.

He’s in the tears I shed when I miss him so much it hurts. He’s in between the tracks of my vinyls when I listen to my record player. He’s constantly there in my dreams, reassuring me I’ll be alright. No matter what. No matter how bizarre the dreams are, or how confused I am when I wake up, there’s still that comfort that flutters in my heart knowing he still loves and cares about me enough to visit me posthumously. He’s there in my thoughts when I’m scared. He’s there in my mind when I wish to speak to something or someone who’s a higher being than what can be tethered to the planet. He’s there in the pride I feel when I realize and remember I love myself every single day, because he was there in person when I hated myself more than I could fathom even the notion of loving myself. He’s in everything I see or witness that tugs at my heartstrings and my first thought and reaction is, “Jonah is there. Jonah helped that person realize their worth. He helped a stranger figure out where to go. He was in the smile of a heartbroken person.”

Even though he didn’t make it to two “ten years,” in the almost two decades he was present on earth Jonah left behind something that is rare. He left goodness behind. Because that was what Jonah was. That’s what Jonah continues to be. He is good. He is beautiful imperfection. He’s in the ten years it has taken me to truly become my own woman. He’s in the ten minutes it takes me to wake up after my coffee in the morning. He’s there when I feel completely alone, squeezing my hand with the wisdom that he spoke that still courses through my beating heart and hopeful soul. He’s in the pitter patter of the rain, washing over the pain we sometimes can’t help but carry around on our shoulders.

Over the years, I have realized many of my truths. I have realized my potential. I have realized my self-worth. I have realized my self-love, and I have realized I love the life I’m living, even through the tough times. My strongest truth, the truth I hold on to harder than the others, is that Jonah is there.


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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 Ellen Dreskin, Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller, 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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