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 Andrea Zlotowitz.
Andrea lives in Brooklyn with her husband and currently works at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards setting up exhibitions of student work across the country. She finds joy in cooking, seeing art and spending time outdoors, some of which she was able to enjoy with Jonah.
I first met Jonah when I was eight years old at Eisner Camp. We had a mini altercation regarding a pair of tie-dyed socks that Jonah thought I threw on the ground; Jonah always was someone to stand his ground to see that people acted appropriately and treated others with respect. A year after our upsetting first meeting, I began going to a new school in Ardsley and I remember walking down the hallways and stopping in my tracks when I saw Jonah sitting in another classroom. I remember being shocked that my camp “enemy” was now at the same school as me. Furthermore, my family was joining his father’s congregation and I hoped there wouldn’t be any tie-dye in the near future.
At temple, Jonah and I became friends but it wasn’t until high school when our friendship grew and we became closer than ever. We would spend Friday nights together eating Chinese food, venturing through the cemetery, watching the best-worst teen movies and laughing until we cried. I remember when the Dreskins got a new big-screen TV and we decided to put Aiden into the box and roll him around the living room. We laughed so much that our cheeks hurt for hours. We were inseparable at temple and often the source of trouble and chatter during events.
Our friendship made its way to the same college, though we found our way into different social circles and didn’t see each other as much as we would have liked.
On March 4th, just before Spring Break, we ran into each other in the Student Union on campus around lunch and decided to dine together and catch up. I remember laughing a lot and recalling so many memories. After a quick class break, we later met for dinner; there was so much to catch up on that we didn’t want our time to end. We made all sorts of plans for the upcoming break including countless adventures that we would go on and movies we would see together, just like old times. It was nice to pick up our friendship right where we left off and to think ahead to future plans. Following our meal, we decided to head back to my dorm room to watch the movie “Stardust,” but we both needed to run some errands before reconvening. I decided to do laundry with a friend in her building, just next door to my dormitory while Jonah met up with some friends. As I was finishing up my laundry, I texted Jonah to see if he was ready to meet up and watch the movie.
Needless to say, we never did end up watching “Stardust” together.
I think of this night often and wonder how things could have gone differently. What if we hadn’t run into each other in the student union that afternoon? What if I hadn’t decided to do my laundry at that moment and instead, hung out with Jonah and friends? Why did fate make me the person to find him? What could I have done to keep my friend alive?
It’s been more than ten years since his passing and I know that I couldn’t have done anything differently. I am grateful to have been by Jonah’s side on his last day and lucky enough to have shared such beautiful experiences with him for many years prior. Jonah taught me to be loyal and true to my friends and to never take people for granted. His life was so precious and I only wish I could show him my love, gratitude, and appreciation today.
Billy adds: Sad and horrific as it must have been for you, Andrea, our family is forever grateful that, as Jonah drew his last breaths, he had you at his side.
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.
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!