Ale Rabellino: Ten Years Later (Part 17)

Ale Rabellino: Ten Years Later (Part 17)

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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 Ale Rabellino.

Ale is a graphic designer at McCann Erickson in New York. After graduating from the Portfolio Center in Atlanta in 2017, she moved back to her native New York (albeit New Jersey this time around). When she’s not working, you can find her at the Biergarten with her 95 year old grandma, at a Broadway show or concert, or enjoying her family’s delicious Mediterranean cooking.

Ale writes:

It’s been harder to write about Jonah than I thought it would be. The truth is, I didn’t know Jonah well, and though he’d probably laugh his irresistibly warm and charming laugh at me right now, I feel a little self conscious writing alongside people who truly knew him. But the brief moments we did get to spend together had such a lasting impact on me that I have to try to express my gratitude to him.

When I was a freshman in high school, I spent two weekends at NFTY youth group retreats. That is where I met the cute, goofy, incredible senior who made me feel like I was the only person in a room of a hundred high schoolers. His quiet confidence and unmatched charisma were an inspiration to me, and I wanted nothing more than to be close friends with Jonah. But he died a year later.

For countless nights, I cried over a boy I barely knew. And as I cried I couldn’t come to terms with the deep, deep sadness I felt. How could I be feeling so much pain while his family and friends seemed so strong? I had no right, and that made me feel even worse.

Ale & Jonah (Oct 2007)

It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I was diagnosed with clinical depression. After taking a medical leave of absence from school, I isolated myself completely. Nothing could excite me, no thought brought me comfort. But on days when I was too depressed to get out of bed, I thought about Jonah and asked for his guidance. “I’m not sure if you can hear me out there, Jonah, but it’s me, Ale. I don’t really know why I’m asking you this, but if there’s any way you can watch out for me, I’d really appreciate it. You had the warmest smile, full of life and joy, and I really wish I could feel that right now.” I felt so guilty that I was squandering away what were supposed to be the best days of my life, when Jonah didn’t even have a chance to live his.

After months of therapy and medication, I began to feel like myself again. And as my health improved, I continued to talk to Jonah. Though I couldn’t hear his responses, his presence was certainly there. He’s been a guiding light for me through my darkest nights and my brightest days. Even tonight, after I write this, I will look up at the sky and say, “Thank you, Jonah.”


A note from Billy: As part of her design program, Ale designed a sleek, elegant and very special chair in tribute to the friendship she shared with Jonah. Read about and see her chair here. But don’t donate to her gofundme — that ended two years ago. If you’re inspired, please donate to Jonah’s foundation and we’ll let Ale know you’ve done so because of her. Thanks!

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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 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!


BillyAle Rabellino: Ten Years Later (Part 17)

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