Abby Fried: Ten Years Later (Part 1)

Abby Fried: Ten Years Later (Part 1)

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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 Abby Fried.

Abby is 27 years old. She is the Youth Program Director for The Cliffs Climbing + Fitness, working with kids and adults in the wonderful world of rock climbing. She and her boyfriend, Matt, live in Long Island City, Queens, with their dog Bunny and their two cats Simba and Nymeria (the true Queen of the Iron Throne). Along with running and rock climbing, her recent hobbies have been growing basil and strawberries hydroponically, and fermenting everything she can get her hands on (much to Matt’s dismay). She would love to have you try her kombucha some day. Her beers are pretty good too.

Abby writes:

I met Jonah when I was 14 years old. As a teen, Jonah gave me so much confidence, just by paying attention to me. He made me feel seen and important in my very teenage world where I felt so invisible.

Thinking of Jonah makes me think of his big, warm hugs. It makes me think of giant smiles. It makes me think of being in the sunshine, and sitting on his roof together. I think of his big, cozy sweatshirt, talking with him on the phone until I fell asleep, listening to him play ukulele, watching Blazing Saddles together. A lot of little moments, all stitched together with the passage of time. After ten years, when I close my eyes and think of Jonah, these are what I see, and what I feel.

When Jonah died, I felt lost. I spent a lot of time at a total loss. I was 16 and totally reverted to being the invisible girl. It took a few months, but I knew that wasn’t what Jonah would have wanted. So I started running.

Jonah wasn’t a runner. I don’t think he would have run with me. I don’t think he would have even understood it, but it was something that got me moving — first my feet, then eventually my brain. My running was time I could think about Jonah, or anything in my life, and let the thoughts run as they needed and feel everything I couldn’t let myself feel in school or in front of my friends.

As a goal-oriented person I needed something to run for. So I started training for the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon. I picked the Mardi Gras Marathon because Jonah had gone to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina to help build houses. He came back with a ton of Mardi Gras beads, a little pyramid of turtles wearing hats, and a little ring. As I trained for this marathon, I resolved that I would be running for Jonah.

I ran that first marathon in February 2010. I finished in 5 hours and 5 minutes, after a bit of a nasty fall at mile 20 in one of the areas affected by the hurricane years before. In my head that was my reminder not just to pay attention, but to remember even when things get hard, we can still be strong.

I’m currently training for my ninth marathon, with a plan to complete my tenth — back for Mardi Gras — in February of next year. Ten years later, I still think of Jonah every time I run, and about moving through pain and making ourselves stronger as we do.

As I write this, I’m thinking it’s too much about me. But what I realize is that I’m not me without Jonah. He was such a pivotal piece of my life and my life wouldn’t look like it does if I hadn’t met him.

I wish more than anything that Jonah was still here. But he is still in my life: big full-body hugs, Blazing Saddles, and sitting on the roof in the sun. And of course, running. Running makes me think of Jonah; with each step I take, he’s right there beside me.


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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 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.

BillyAbby Fried: Ten Years Later (Part 1)

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