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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Author Archive

JMF Awards Grant to Youth Futures in Lod, Israel

Youth Futures, Lod, IsraelWe’re honored to send our love and assistance to Youth Futures in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood of Lod, Israel, which has seen far too much hate and violence in recent weeks.

Jonah never got to Israel, but was hoping to do so as soon as he could. He loved Jewish life, and he loved people … of all stripes and flavors. We think he would have wanted to help everyone — Arabs and Jews — in Lod.

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Silver Learnings: Jill Abusch

These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.

 


Jill Abusch

Jill is co-founder, Artistic Director, Camp Director and resident second mommy to many students and alumni of The Play Group Theatre. Along with directing many of PGT’s stage productions, Jill teaches a variety of classes from Little Theatre to Advanced Acting Technique, and has gone into schools and camps to train teachers on the use of drama in the classroom.  She studied acting and directing at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the Classical Studio at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she earned a BFA in Drama. She adores working alongside her husband and partner, Steven, and is especially proud of their best productions, by far, Aviva and Ilana.

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In those early pandemic weeks, when things were still so chaotic and everything felt so dark, I found this online, and posted it on our fridge:

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JMF Awards Grant to 6 Points Creative Arts Academy

We’re honored to award a grant to 6 Points Creative Arts Academy, a summer camp program sponsored by the Union for Reform Judaism, which strives to create holistic, meaningful experiences for young artists in a living laboratory for learning and performing. The camp is housed at the Westtown School, a Quaker Boarding School on 600 acres located just 25 miles west of Philadelphia.

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Silver Learnings: Keron Siriri

These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.

 


Keron Siriri

Keron Siriri lives in the Budaka District in Eastern Uganda where he is a member of the Abayudaya Jewish community (his village sits about 14 miles to the west of the commercial center of Mbale). Keron is 24 years old and a recent college graduate in electrical engineering. He is the second-born of six children.

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During the pandemic, life has become very hard. Some days, I go without food. My brothers and sisters live in constant fear of either contracting Covid-19 or getting arrested for violating health guidelines. We are left to fate. I cry endlessly remembering how much my parents used to take care of us when we stayed together at home. Now I sit on my balcony and think of how I can survive this terrible situation. I wonder why I am so far from home in a place that feels like exile, even as fears of new Covid-19 cases are increasing.

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SILVER LEARNINGS: It’s week 3 of 4 … have you made your gift?

We’re halfway through our June campaign, Silver Learnings. Please remember that your donation is what lets us do any of the grant-making that you’ve been reading about. Thank you so much for making that possible!

Silver Learnings is all about life-lessons. No matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it during the pandemic, there has been plenty of wisdom to acquire during this difficult time. Whether it’s how to pay the bills, make a sourdough recipe, learn a new game to play with the kids, or how to make a difference and help others get through these tough times, each of us has a story to tell and Silver Learnings is about sharing them.

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Silver Learnings: Marta Kauffman

These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.

 


Marta Kauffman

Marta Kauffman is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning television writer, producer, and showrunner. She’s best known as a co-creator of Friends. Other projects have included Veronica’s Closet, Jesse, Dream On, Hava Nagila, and Seeing Allred. Marta is currently the co-creator and executive producer of Grace and Frankie.

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When we were confined to our homes, well over a year ago, a lot of people started making sourdough bread. Some people cleaned their closets. Some people decided to learn something new. I learned to clip the fingernails of my right hand with my uncoordinated left hand, although I’m not sure that’s what “learning something new” meant. Read the rest of this entry »

Silver Learnings: Evangelo Maniotis

These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.


Evangelo Maniotis

Evangelo Maniotis is a linguist and interpreter who was working in Japan as an assistant English teacher when the pandemic began. He’s a polyglot who has worked as an ESL teacher and interpreter both online and in various countries. He has also tutored other languages.

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My family is a closely-knit collection of Italians and Greeks, so me having most of my work in other countries means breaking a whole lot of hearts. My family certainly made no small noise when I was all by myself during a global crisis. It is, of course, thanks to that noise that I am currently home in New York and safe in their arms.

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SILVER LEARNINGS: June Campaign enters week #2

Our June campaign, Silver Learnings, is up and running. Thank you to those who have already contributed. Everybody else … three weeks and counting!

Why Silver Learnings? Because no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it during the pandemic, we’ve all learned a lot. About the world, about ourselves, about others. Some of it was bad and, almost amazingly, a lot of it was good. That good stuff has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. Read the rest of this entry »

Silver Learnings: Joe Casario

These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.


Joe Casario is the owner and operator of Edwards-Dowdle Funeral Home in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Joe is married to Carolyn Casario. They have two children, Christopher and Victoria.

[Billy’s note: Joe and I have taken care of many families across the years. As the pandemic began, when New York was utterly inundated by what seemed to be out-of-control deaths, with bodies having to be stored in refrigerator trucks, Joe shared with me how very difficult it was for the funeral homes to keep up. They were working around the clock and were exhausted. Whereas the world was learning about and honoring first responders, these folks were the “last responders” and their service was also essential, but largely unknown. I’m honored to include Joe’s voice in “Silver Learnings.”]

Joe Casario and family

As a funeral director, we must always separate ourselves from the natural sadness we face each day. Beginning in March 2020, everything changed. The volume of death and sadness became overwhelming. As the leader of my team, I had to maintain a level of leadership and calmness so that morale could stay strong and our work could continue. Privately, however, things were much different. My staff arrived daily at 8 am and often didn’t go home before 10 pm. My own days usually went from 5 am until midnight. This continued for nearly two months without relief.

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Silver Learnings: Molly Rodriguez

These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.


Molly Rodriguez has been a licensed clinical social worker since 1990, operating a private practice out of her home in Dobbs Ferry. She now works in the field of immigration, helping undocumented immigrants become permanent residents of the United States. She was also the Director of the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry at South Presbyterian Church from 2011 until this past April, which was a rewarding, heartwarming (but exhausting) experience. Molly writes …

Molly RodriguezThe Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry has been serving 30-40 families a week, serving Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington and Greenburgh, New York, since 2011. I’ve been very happily running the pantry since then. When the pandemic began, our numbers exploded. A couple of weeks ago we served 175 families, a 425% increase. Running the pantry has turned into a full-time job.

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