Hi. December and 2021 are just about over. And so is our Hope Smiles campaign. If you don’t mind, we’re going to try one last time to get you to part with a few dollars and send them along to The Jonah Maccabee Foundation.
It’s been a challenging couple of years, hasn’t it? And the Omicron variant has reminded us we’re not yet out of the woods. But here’s our promise: The Jonah Maccabee Foundation will keep its eyes open for ways we can be of help in the year ahead, whether it be through acts of communal kindness, making sure the arts don’t get lost amidst our scrambling to keep the virus at bay, or enhancing Jewish life in a few worthy places that we encounter. Your gift to Hope Smiles will help us make that happen.
Before 2021 concludes, a little something about Jonah …
In the summer of 1998 when Jonah was all of 8 years old, he spent a week at Cub Scout Day Camp on the other side of the county. After the first day, he was nearly thrown out of the program for grabbing a camper and talking back to several (!) adult counselors. This was not an unfamiliar sequence of events as Jonah had a pronounced sense of justice that would likely have served him well in adulthood but, as a child, simply made him appear to be a misbehaving kid. That evening, Jonah and I talked it through and we came to an understanding about what society wants of us and, more importantly, what real injustice is all about. He returned to camp the next day and everyone enjoyed his presence for the remainder of the week. He was, after all, a pretty fun kid.
At eight years old, Jonah didn’t necessarily understand all the textures and dynamics of right and wrong. But he was learning. And I always loved that it mattered to him. I also loved that he was always watching and listening. Sometimes that caused him to punch another kid, but sometimes it helped him to understand why he should think about refraining from punching another kid. As Jonah grew into adulthood, I marveled at the lessons learned. He had become a really fine human being, and I couldn’t wait to see what his mark would be on the world.
That didn’t get to happen because at age 19 Jonah’s life ended. But not the difference he was making. When our family created this foundation, we did so to try and bring into the world a bit of what Jonah might have brought to it himself if he’d had the time. We’re endlessly grateful for each gift that empowers us to do this for Jonah. Together, your and others’ donations “help us turn love into action.”
That same week back in 1998, Jonah and I went to Rye Playland, an amusement park in our area. We did not ride The Spider. There was no way Jonah was going anywhere near that thing, mostly because he’d heard about my experience from when I’d taken Katie earlier that same summer. But Jonah did want me to go on it by myself so he could watch me throw up afterwards.
I didn’t oblige him. But hope has to begin somewhere, doesn’t it?
Despite our loss, despite the coronavirus, despite so many other disappointments and challenges the world keeps throwing at us, let us continue insisting upon hopefulness, preferring to build something good rather than regret what’s been loss. Our family loves that so many of you have been joining us in this unlikely project. That’s Hope Smiles!