Dan Reichenbach: Ten Years Later (Part 3)

Dan Reichenbach: Ten Years Later (Part 3)

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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 Dan Reichenbach.

Dan is a third-year student at HUC-JIR in New York in the Masters in Religious Education program. Until recently he lived in Israel after making aliyah and joining the IDF in 2012. Dan served for two years in the Nachal brigade and then traveled the world before he began his studies at HUC, taking a year to learn Talmud at the PARDES yeshivah in Jerusalem. Dan lives now on the Upper East Side with his dog Chewbacca.

Dan writes:

Ten years later, the thing that stands out most clearly to me of Jonah is his unflinching, uncompromising dedication to self. My strongest memories of Jonah are of the times we spent together at Eisner and Kutz Camps. Even when we were young, maybe ten or eleven, without a whisper of facial hair on our faces, Jonah was Jonah. Everyone was struggling to figure out who they were, what their image would be, and what their morals were, but not Jonah. Some people were preoccupied with what looked cool and how they should behave so as to line up best with their peers, but Jonah was on his own wavelength, always marching to his own drum beat.Not only was Jonah a vibrant individual, he was kind. He befriended everyone, included everyone, and always had a kind word for you when you needed it. He was generous. While most campers hoarded their candy and contraband Cup Noodles, Jonah always had something to share. It could be sharing a space on his bed to sit and play Magic the Gathering cards, or a few minutes of his time to sing a song together. It didn’t matter to Jonah – he was willing to share what he had.

Jonah could be awkward, blunt, and hysterical all at the same time. Now, thinking about it, I’m struck by just how many images and memories come to mind when I think of Jonah. He made a lasting impression on me, and I can see him and his mannerisms so clearly when I think back on those days.

Jonah had his own style, his own energy, and his own way of doing things. I will always remember his Hawaiian and tie-dyed shirts, bandanas, backpacker guitar, ukulele, and so many other Jonah-isms. He always seemed to know just who he was and never attempted to hide himself from others; in fact, he did just the opposite.

Jonah was a huge presence; his smile and his voice could fill a room. We spent long hours cracking jokes, playing music, and quoting Monty Python together. I look back on those simple times, in musty bunks or lying on the green grass of Olim Hill at Eisner gazing up at the sky, and I think of just how much fun we had together at our home away from home.

I think of Jonah often, but I do so most often when I’m in a Jewish space. Judaism for Jonah and for me was an all-encompassing world. Our families lived and breathed Judaism. Jonah and I shared somewhat of a secret language that I think only Kutz Camp “fac brats” can truly understand. Judaism to us was so much more than a religion. Judaism was life, music, the taste of grape juice sipped from tiny white dixie cups, the sounds of crickets and frogs, the gentle splash of water from the lake, and the flapping of bats’ wings in the rafters of the Teatron at Kutz. On Saturday evenings, when I smell the spices of Havdalah and gaze into the flames of the candle, I can sometimes feel Jonah’s arm around my shoulder. I am back at Eisner, sitting around the lake, or at Kutz, sitting in a pagoda.

And I think of Jonah when I see our friends.

Suddenly, we’re all grown up. Some of us are married or starting our professional lives. Others of us even have kids! I think it’s safe to say that for many of us who grew up at camp, a part of us always stays there. Jonah is firmly a part of that for me. I think of him whenever I am reminded of those times because they are some of the best ones of my life.

The memories of his kindness, his individualism, and his love for everyone around him, help ground and guide me as I continue to grow. For me, his memory truly is a blessing.


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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 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.

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.

BillyDan Reichenbach: Ten Years Later (Part 3)

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