Ten Years Later … A Very Special Campaign Begins

Ten Years Later … A Very Special Campaign Begins

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As we begin our annual Summer Campaign, we do so with mixed emotions. It’s been ten years since Jonah died. As you can imagine, our hearts were broken that night in March 2009,  commencing a long, arduous journey to say goodbye and to mourn the loss of our son and brother. But from day one, your love has surrounded and held us, and we healed (and are still healing), for which we are forever grateful and endlessly inspired.

We started The Jonah Maccabee Foundation to remember our beloved boy and to try and bring into the world some of what we believe he himself would have brought to it. Along with our continuing love for Jonah, we felt that there was something that you and we could do together … to continue healing, to continue loving and, frankly, to do something good for the world because together you and we constitute a formidable force for kindness. As you have loved us and we have loved you, we think the world can benefit from us joining hands to do some real good together.

We’ve named our Summer 2019 fundraising campaign “Ten Years Later” for obvious reasons. It’s simply crazy to think that so many years have already passed since Jonah left us. To inhabit the many emails we’re about to send you, we turned to some of the folks who knew Jonah best — friends and mentors — and asked them what of Jonah, after a decade, they still carry with them. Their stories are moving, funny, painful and loving.

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. You can also stop by jonahmac.org if you think you have some catching up to do. 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.

Do it for Jonah. Do it for the kids. Do it for yourself.

Because we deeply respect the trust you place in us, here’s a list of our most recent projects:

1) Eisner and Crane Lake Camps: One of our very favorite camp directors, Louis Bordman, retired this year. After the decades of loving effort that he put into helping kids grow true and strong (including our own!), we wanted to make a gift to offer our thanks and to continue building these incredible programs for the next decade. Eisner and Crane Lake have received a grant to provide camper scholarships from The JMF Jewish Life Fund.

2) Play Group Theatre: With the opening of the Jonah Mac Theatre, a “black box” studio theatre dedicated to training young people not merely in theatre arts, but in creative expression and fearless exploration, we love helping others benefit from PGT the way our boys did and have very happily made a gift to Play Group Theatre from The JMF Arts Fund.

3) RAICES: We continue to support the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in Ft Worth, TX. RAICES provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees at our southern border. RAICES is also working to secure safe passage for migrant caravans, especially LGBTQ+ migrants who face additional hurdles as they seek asylum from bigotry and persecution. We’re humbled to support this determined migration from Central America with a grant from The JMF Social Justice Fund.

4) Kutz Camp Scholarship Fund: From the 1970s onward, someone in our family has spent part of most summers at Kutz Camp, a Jewish teen leadership program that helps young people develop passions for Jewish life and values. Jonah adored his summers there (he spent pretty much his entire life as either a fac brat, program participant or staff member). Our family is so pleased to be able to provide this gift from The JMF Jewish Life Fund.

5) Southern Poverty Law Center: America’s premier gladiator fighting the good fight against bigotry and hate. As our nation continues to struggle with a precipitous rise in hate activities, SPLC works to make our country safe for every child, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. We’re extremely proud to support their work through a gift from The JMF Social Justice Fund.

6) The Religious Action Center (RAC) of Reform Judaism: These folks work tirelessly in our nation’s capital to help make our country and our world safer and more just for all. Recently, they created the Rabbi Marcus Burstein L’taken Fellows which helps college students to participate both in learning how to advocate for justice and how to teach it to high school students who come to Washington for the RAC’s L’taken Political Action Training Seminars. With this grant from the JMF Jewish Life Fund, we couldn’t feel prouder to support the RAC, to remember our dear friend Marcus, and to help young people build whole, healthy lives across the globe!

7) Kids in Need of Defense (KIND): This organization has devoted itself to assisting children, especially those traveling alone, who have been caught up in the immigration mess at our southern border. KIND works to: a) ensure no child appears in immigration court without high quality legal representation; b) effect legislation that ensures children’s protection and their right to due process; and, c) promote in these children’s countries of origin solutions to child migration grounded in the best interests of the child, to ensure that no child is forced to involuntarily migrate.

That’s what we’ve been up to. If you’d like to help us do more, please donate to our Summer Campaign here.

One more thing: Our “So Is Life” Album — magnificently recorded by Dan Nichols, Josh Nelson, Rosalie Boxt and Ellen Dreskin (now calling themselves So Is Life) — is available as a download (or on CD, if anyone still has a CD player). The proceeds all come to The Jonah Maccabee Foundation, so order lots & lots of copies right here. Thanks!

And now, you can also 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). Those proceeds (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) will also come to The Jonah Maccabee Foundation. You can order your Beged Kefet digital download right here.

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
BillyTen Years Later … A Very Special Campaign Begins

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