Billy

JMF Awards Grant to Mississippi River Network

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Communities all along the Mississippi River are disproportionately and unjustly impacted by pollution, public health disparities, and economic injustices, often communities of color.

The Mississippi River Network (MRN) works for the well-being of the people, land, water, and wildlife of America’s largest watershed.

MRN lovingly labors to protect, restore, enjoy, and sustainably develop, the MIssissippi River, the water that brings life to the region, the lands through which it flows, and the wildlife that shares it and relies on its well-being.

Environmental issues and racial issues are linked, as minority communities often suffer most from exploitation of the land and other resources. The Jonah Maccabee Foundation’s support for the Mississippi River Network reflects Jonah’s profound love for people and the giant blue marble that gave him life and all of us as well.

We’re honored to make this grant from our Fund for Racial Justice.

Learn more about the Mississippi River Network here.

As always, we simply could not do this without your support. Thank you for your donations that make our involvement possible.

BillyJMF Awards Grant to Mississippi River Network
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Just “thank you!”

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Whew! That was huge.

First of all, you stuck by us as we bombarded you with nearly a dozen emails this month. We’d wanted to share with you the wonderful videos from our 10th Anniversary Event, and you let us! Thank you for that.

Second, did you know that charitable giving is down everywhere because of the economy? But you came through for us! Thank you even moreso for that. We promise to use your dollars in as caring and compassionate a way as possible.

And all those videos? If you missed any, here they are one more time:

That’s it, friends. Thank you again. Sincerely. We’ll keep you updated on our projects. More than anything, you have our deep gratitude … for helping us remember Jonah Mac by turning love into action.

As always, you’re welcome to send additional donations, perhaps to honor someone YOU love.

Wishing you every goodness in the new year,
The Dreskin family
The Jonah Maccabee Foundation

Don’t miss us on Facebook and Twitter!

BillyJust “thank you!”
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Thanks to all who have contributed to our “Our Second 10 Years!” Campaign

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We are so grateful that you take the time and dollars to support our work. It’s incredibly gratifying and this list of donors to our “Our Second 10 Years!” Campaign is a small but earnest expression of our thanks. May our shared efforts bring ever-increasing goodness into a world that so desperately needs it.

The Dreskins


Malka and Ross Wolman

Janet and Doron Elam

Andrew Katz

Sue Shankman and Michael Namath

Kenneth I Green

Barbara Orwick

Jeffrey Nakrin

Steve and Terri Levin

Anonymous

Bari Ziegel

Eileen Reiter

Marsha Shapiro … in memory of Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro

Jo Hariton

Tom and Susan Schaeffer

Richard and Marsha Cohn

Cantor Leon Sher … in honor of all the good work the Dreskin family does in the world

The Sommer family

Glynis Conyer

Allison Pincus and Matt Scult … in memory of Jonah Dreskin whose spirit continues to impact many

Dale Glasser

Rick and Addie Lupert

Steve Klaper and Mary Gilhuly

Dr. Daniel Lucas

Carol Ochs

Ronni Schatz … in memory of Rabbi Scott Corngold

Anonymous … in honor of the Dreskin family

Nicole Roos

Bonnie Denmark Friedman

Noni and Bob Stearns

Jonathan Kessel

Melissa Kaye-Swift … in loving memory of Jonah

Pietra, Alan, and Ben Greenberg/Cohen … in memory of Sylvia and Arthur

Margot Serwer and Jonathan Gordon … in memory of Jonah Dreskin (z”l)

Jody and Michael Weinberg

Rabbi Mo Salth

Tracy Friend

Myron Katz … in memory of Rina Katz

Rabbi Jeffrey Sirkman … in memory of Susan Sirkman

Geri Pell

Patti Linsky

Sharol Brickman

Rena Dreskin … in memory of Jonah M Dreskin

Rabbi Zachary Plesent and Cantor Jenna Mark

Noah Budin … in honor of Sharon Grace

Nina Luban … in memory of Jonah

Liz Kanter Groskind and Eric Groskind

Elliott and Phyllis Rosen

Harvey Feldman … in memory of Nathan and Marian Feldman

Dan and Kelly Kaskawits … in memory of Tammy Kaskawits

Cantor Lisa Levine

Naomi and Richard Binenfeld … to celebrate Jonah’s life!

Renni Altman and Rick Wender … in honor of Daniel Wender, because he loved Jonah

Joan and Andy Farber … in honor of Ellen, Billy, Katie and Aiden

Jay and Erica Leon

Kyla and Mitchell Schneider

Rabbi Jonah Pesner and Dana Gershon

Daniel Pliskin

Patti and Wayne Fuchs … in memory of Mrs. Hilda Blum

Abby and Harry Heiman

Ariel Milan-Polisar

Neil and Denise Weinstein

Marilyn and Jeff Bilsky

Andy and Susan Sterling

Carol Scharff

Ellen G Krieger Rubin … in memory of Larry Gralla

Todd Gordon and Susan Feder

Danny Siegel

Anonymous … in memory of Hilda Blum

Rene Katersky … in honor of the Dreskin family because I have so much respect and admiration for all you do, not only in this good work in Jonah’s memory, but for your continuous warmth of welcome and teaching

Anonymous

Cantor Danielle Rodnizki … in honor of singing with Ellen, Merri, Benjie and Jenna

Mark Kaufman and Rachel Wineberg

Julie and Scott Stein

Cantor Todd Kipnis

Debra Robbins

Faryn Rudnick

Abby Gostein

Josh Perlstein

Rabbi Andy Vogel and Martha Hausman

Kim Geringer and Colin Dunn

Martine and Bruce Klein

Adina Baseman Sharfstein

Bonnie C. Mitelman

Rabbi Steven Lowenstein

Helen Meltzer-Krim

Merri Rosenberg

Michael Pincus

Anonymous … in memory of Hilda Blum

Stan and Loretta Freimark … in memory of Mrs. Hilda Blum, an elegant kind woman who will be missed by many

Cantor Jill Abramson

Jeanne and Murray Bodin

Craig Taubman … in memory of Jonah Maccabee

Marc Rosenstein

Beth D. Davidson

Kathy Tuchman Glass

John Kalter

Chuck and Nancy Fishman

Morris L. Kramer

Mayta Cohen

Phyllis Opochinsky … in memory of Jonah Dreskin

Robbie Harris

Jeanne Weiland and Jay Moskovitz

Scott B. Cantor and Lisa E. Stone

Gail Nalven and Pat Rudden

Cantor Benjie Schiller and Rabbi Les Bronstein

Rabbi and Mrs. Norman Cohen … in honor of Ellen and Billy Dreskin

Vivian and David Singer

Jonathan Slater

Mary Ann Shamis

Rob Berliner … in memory of Jonah

Ilene Berger

Jessica and Chuck Myers

Sara Steinberg

The Hacker family

Barbara Stambler

Linda A Harvey

Rabbi Larry Milder

Anonymous

The American Jewish Archives, Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director

Michael Dreskin and Carol Williams … in honor of his favorite brother Billy (which Michael did not say but since Billy controls this page, he figured why not)

Arnie Sleutelberg and Robert Crowe

Louis and Kathy Bordman … in honor of the Dreskin family

Dr. Madelyn Katz … in memory of Micah Bycel

Ken and Liz Blum … in memory of Hilda Blum, and in recognition of Rabbi Mara’s beautiful, touching funeral service

Corey Friedlander

Corey Friedlander … in memory of Hilda Blum, mother of Ken Blum

Lois and Jay Izes

Anonymous

Beth Sher

Jeremy Wolfe

Steve Hummel and family … in memory of Jonah

The Pomer Family

Rabbi Larry and Rhonda Karol

Jan and Lanie Katzew

Rochelle Novins … in memory of Jay and Kevin Novins

Rabbi Norman M. Cohen

Al and Sara Dreskin

Susan and David Berger

Madeline Hendricks

Sally Winter

Rabbi Hillel Cohn

Paul Flexner … in honor of Billy

Lew Wyman and Susan Newman

Liza Pincus and Elie Salamon

Barry and Joanne Citrin

Michael Mellen

Molly Rodriguez

Rebecca Schwartz

Roberta Grossman

Roberta Roos

Jamie and Joey Carroll … in honor of Katie Dreskin

Ruth Rugoff and Joe + Annie Potischman … in memory of Jonah Maccabee Dreskin

Karen Steele

Norman E. Friedman

BillyThanks to all who have contributed to our “Our Second 10 Years!” Campaign
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With Your Help, Here’s What We Accomplished In 2022

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Dear friends,

We thought you might like to know how we spent the money you donated to The Jonah Maccabee Foundation in 2022.

Here’s the rundown of the grants we made this year:

  • MindLeaps … creates educational paths for vulnerable children by engaging them in fun dance classes that are part of a carefully crafted curriculum to develop key cognitive and social-emotional skills vital to success in school and work.
  • American Indian College Fund … supports Native student access to higher education. With only 14% of American Indians earning college degrees (less than half the national average), AICF empowers 4000 American Indian students annually to start and stay in school, complete degrees and launch careers.
  • Yes We Can … provides full time bilingual education and safe spaces for migrant children at U.S.-Mexico border who have no permanent address to attend school.
  • League of Women Voters … working to protect and expand voting rights through advocacy, education and litigation at the local, state, and national levels.
  • IsraAid … supports Ukrainian refugees in Moldova and supplies humanitarian aid to southern Ukraine
  • Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center … provides free outdoor educational programming to low-resourced communities in the Boston Public Schools
  • The Penguin Project … provides theatrical outlets across the country for young artists with developmental disabilities, joined onstage by children without disabilities who work side-by-side through rehearsals and performances
  • United Negro College Fund …awards more than 10,000 students scholarships annually, and provides financial support to 37 historically black colleges and universities
  • “Songleading: A Work of Art” … the Foundation has underwritten this important book that promotes the training of a new generation of capable, effective leaders of communal singing.
  • The PICO Union Project … distributes free, fresh produce, mentors high school students, plants gardens and trees, and provides art programs to lift the minds and spirits of the immigrant communities living in the El Pueblo district in Los Angeles
  • The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project … provides free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in Arizona who face immigration removal proceedings, endeavoring to ensure each immigrant has access to counsel, understands their rights under the law, and is treated fairly and humanely
  • Harmony Project … provides no-cost, high-quality music instruction and social support to underserved children in low-income communities, motivating them to cultivate their human potential
  • The Reform Movement’s Racial Justice Campaign … combats voter suppression, addressing systemic racism by demanding policy change on both a state and federal level
  • Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights … advocates for the rights and best interests of immigrant children, from custody and release to the ultimate decision about whether the child will be allowed to remain in the U.S.
  • Play Group Theatre … “preparing kids for every stage in life,” PGT understands that the show isn’t what’s most important when kids do theatre. Learning collaboration, sharpening listening skills, embracing creativity, and treating one another with honor … these are what PGT is all about. We love that!
  • National Diaper Network … provides basic necessities required to build the strong foundations all children, families, and individuals need to thrive and reach their full potential
  • 6 Points Creative Arts Academy … a summer camp that strives to create holistic, meaningful experiences for young artists in a living laboratory for learning and performing
  • The Tali Fund … in memory of Talia Faith Agler, supports Tali’s ongoing work and dreams, helping fund the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in Nairobi, Kenya
  • 52nd Street Project … creates and produces new plays for, and often by, kids ages 9-18 who reside in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City
  • Lifting Up Westchester Summer Camp … gives children who are experiencing homelessness in Westchester County, New York, a safe space filled with fun and games, plus literacy activities that help them retain the past year’s school lessons, preparing for success when the new school year begins.

We hope you feel as good about these grants as we do. Thank you so much for supporting us. We’re grateful to have you with us as we carry forward Jonah’s legacy — his zest for living and his passion for goodness — and, together, work to improve the lives of young people everywhere.

Wishing you every goodness,
Ellen, Billy, Katie, Mark and Aiden
The Jonah Maccabee Foundation

BillyWith Your Help, Here’s What We Accomplished In 2022
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That Reminds Me

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Dear Jonah,

You and I shared a fondness for entertaining movies and TV shows, as I now do with Aiden. When you were eleven, we rooted for Chris Rock and Bill Murray in Osmosis Jones. When you were twelve, we thrilled to Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black II. When you were thirteen, we tried not to pee in our pants watching Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles. And of course, in your teens, we watched the entire Monty Python’s Flying Circus DVD collection, from which you quoted liberally throughout your life.

A few weeks ago, I decided to re-watch all six movies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Hey, I’m retired. I can do that sort of thing now.

It wasn’t until I was nearly finished with all of them when it dawned on me that these films are just about twenty years old and that you were eleven when The Fellowship of the Ring was first released.

I watched these films with you by my side.

I don’t really get that emotional anymore about your being gone. You’ve been pretty well integrated into my life, and your story is, more and more, just a story. Okay, not just a story – a pretty spectacular story. What I mean is, your dying no longer pushes me over a cliff. I only very rarely find myself lost and crying in a puddle of tears and regret.

But every now and then, I do. The wave returns. (People often describe grief as coming in waves, there one moment and gone the next, and you never quite know when the next one will sweep you away.)

Watching this movie, which was just a movie … until I remembered seeing it with you. And suddenly, I’m sobbing all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, kid. I love the sobbing. I love the renewed sense of loss, of horror that you’re no longer where you should be, the pain that stings whenever my remembering that one of my children is dead really sweeps over and through me.

“Love” is probably the wrong term, but these feelings, especially when they’re so strong, remind me how much I miss you, how much I still wish you were here, and that you’re not just a story. You’re my son, and God damn it I want you back. I don’t ever want to lose that feeling. But thirteen years later, I’ve adjusted and, for the most part, I’ve successfully integrated you into my everyday living. I’m comfortable with that. But I also welcome those times when the discomfort returns.

So my life now consists of: I’m fine. And then I’m not fine. And then I am. And so on, and so on. And that, I think, is how it’s always going to be.

Back to these movies.

In The Lord of the Rings, Theoden is the King of Rohan. He spends a good while under the catatonic spell of the evil Saruman, until good wizard Gandalf breaks the spell and Theoden is able to rule his kingdom once more. Upon regaining his health and his power, Theoden asks for his son Theodred, only to learn he has just died in battle. Theodred’s body is returned to his father and a funeral is held.

That was the moment when I realized that you and I had seen this film together. This fictional story of a father’s loss reminded me how the very real story of your death is no fiction. It was all too real. And it will always be very real. Sure, I place the story on a shelf all the time. Because I have to be able to live my life. But the story comes down off that shelf all by itself just as many times as I reach for it.

As always, I speak for myself and cannot vouch for anyone else’s journey. But this seems to be the trajectory of my life. I carry on – I live life fully and happily – but I never move on. I have never left you behind nor, it seems, will I ever. Even if I could, I would never choose to do so.

I love my life, Jonah. I love your mom, and I love your sister and your brother. I also love the dog that you never got to know. I love the things I do with my life. I love the opportunities I have to be creative, to be with others, to be by myself, and to help out a bit along the way.

And I love you.

Always always, you are never far away. I carry you close to my heart and – I have a strong feeling about this – I don’t think I’ll ever let you go.

I so wish you’d gotten to live your life, Jonah. I won’t be doing so for you, but I will make sure you’re not forgotten. Whether it was a dumb movie we shared or a trip to help traumatized families in hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, your story now lives in me.

As long as I’m around, Jonah, others will know that your nineteen years meant something. That you loved and were loved. That you dreamed big, you laughed big, you hugged big, and you heaped kindness big. While in time, for others, those memories may fade. And even for me, that might also happen. But it will be in those unexpected moments, when bits and pieces of you return, if only for a moment – your stories will be told once again.

Love you forever,
Dad

BillyThat Reminds Me
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I Cried Today

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Dear Jonah,

I cried today. Five times, actually. It had nothing to do with you.

And everything to do with you.

Charlie and I left the house about 6:30 am. We’d barely stepped off the driveway before we saw the little creature. I think we both thought he was dead which, of course, brought Charlie in for a closer look. But the moment he sniffed it, the chipmunk’s head popped up. It was alive.

Neither of us could have been more surprised.

But then he lowered his head back down as if to tell us he preferred to sleep. We were in the middle of the street, ‘though, and that was no place to go back to bed. The little guy must have been hurt.

I cried.

This first cry, I think, was out of sympathy and also despair. What do I know about wildlife? I was in no way equipped to rescue a wild animal, even one as small as a chipmunk. But I could tell he was in distress and it distressed me to just leave him there.

For a while, Charlie and I walked around, but we never ventured so far as to let the chipmunk out of our sight. Eventually, we came back to him and I fretted over what to do next.

Ellen soon joined our completely untrained and inexperienced team, and we very gingerly wrapped a towel around the little guy and gently placed him in a milk crate. We moved him off the street and onto our front porch, breathing a little easier because he was out of harm’s way but still having no idea what to do for him.

I got onto the computer and began searching for how to rescue a chipmunk. Local vets aren’t equipped to do this kind of work, so I was pleased to discover a network of volunteer “wildlife rehabilitators” who will care for a rescued animal and release it back into the wild. It was still early though, and a long hour before someone got back to me. Unfortunately she’d moved out of state and couldn’t take the animal. But she also reassured us that she would coach us through.

I cried again. Her name was Camille, and I was deeply touched by someone’s willingness to step up (even across the country) and offer skilled assistance to a couple of pretty helpless know-nothings. Camille represented the possibility that we might be able to save this guy and I was awe-struck to find myself in the middle of what was now feeling like a very holy moment.

Throughout the morning, Camille and I exchanged texts about how to keep the chipmunk comfortable, what to feed it, and who else nearby might help. Then an amazing thing happened. She mentioned there was an emergency veterinary clinic that accepts wildlife rescues. And when she gave me the address, my jaw dropped. It was no more than ten minutes away!

Yep, more tears. My third cry before lunch. The universe was aligning in a very wonderful way. I phoned the clinic and they invited me to bring the chipmunk right over.

When we arrived, there was an additional layer of meaning and emotion that surfaced. The veterinary clinic had recently moved into a larger space, one that had been our local Blockbuster video rental store when the kids were little. Standing in the waiting area as the chipmunk was examined, I thought to myself, “How many times, Jonah, had you and I rented videos and videogames here? How many times had I chased you and your brother up and down these aisles?”

There was a powerful commingling of memory, of life, and of loss. I felt privileged to be standing in the middle of all of it.

I cried again. Because I still miss you. And because something metaphysical was taking place as I pondered the profound intersection of your life with this little animal’s.

Contrary to what you’re thinking, I’m not a crier. Before you died, I was far more likely to nod my head in recognition of a moving moment, but tears had always been few and far between for me.

On the day that you died, however, my thoughts and feelings about life and death changed forever. I think I treasure life more than ever because you’ve taught me that you never know when it’ll be over. So much of what I experience now, in the years since you’ve been gone, is colored by the continuing shades of grief that still wash over me. Whether I witness a life saved or a life lost, my emotional response is a powerful one which, I think, is why I cried five times today for that little chipmunk.

The vet’s examination complete, someone came out to tell me that the chipmunk had likely experienced a major trauma to the head and the neurological damage was too severe. It wasn’t going to survive. They would make it comfortable and then help it to quietly cross over. I thanked them for doing what they could and I headed home.

As I left the Blockbuster-now-veterinary-emergency-clinic, I cried one more time. I was pretty certain I had done what I could. But I felt so sorry that the little guy had died. I hadn’t left him to die in the road, but I was still busted up. I’d really wanted him to live — for him AND for me.

Because these days, death and I don’t get along so well.

I’m sixty-five, JoJo. Death is something that has become more and more real because I’m closer to it than ever. Not that I plan on leaving for a good long while, but I do think about it. I think about you. About your life that had been far too brief. About your death that had come far too soon. And about the reverberations from that night in 2009 that even now, thirteen years later, shake me to the core.

Saving a chipmunk would have been a good thing.

Trying to save a chipmunk is a reasonably close second though. I wasn’t able to even try to save you.

I feel good for having made the effort with this small creature, for not ignoring the little guy huddled in the street, for choosing life when I could just as easily have sat down to breakfast (okay, there’s no f***ing way I could have just sat down to breakfast).

It’s not that I would have done nothing before 2009. But the things you make me feel these days, the admittedly exaggerated responses to the world around me, these are what made it fairly impossible to ignore that tiny injured creature in front of my home.

Author Suzy Kassem writes, “Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life … constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe.”

Today, a chipmunk opened my eyes and my heart. I will only add, JoJo, that you do that too. I continue to learn from you and suspect I will keep on learning from you until I’ve cried for the very last time. I miss you but am grateful to still be your student.

I’m exhausted.

Love you forever,
Dad

P.S. Injured wildlife find its way to you? Reach out to humanesociety.org/resources/how-find-wildlife-rehabilitator or nwrawildlife.org/page/Found_Injured_Wildlife. There are volunteers everywhere who want to help.

BillyI Cried Today
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Performing THIS SUNDAY @ Our 10th Anniversary Event!

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The show starts this Sunday (June 26) at 7:00 pm (7:30 if you’ve signed up to attend online). And here’s the fantastic lineup we’ve got for you:

The Levins — Ira and Julia Levin are true national treasures, both in the folk music world and in human civilization. Their music is lovely, loving, and thoughtful. And so are they!

Kenny Green spends most of his time singing with kids all over Westchester. In his spare time, he studies an exotic instrument called the Chapman Stick. To hear him play is a wonder indeed. Kenny is another of the world’s nicest people and we’re honored to have him with us.

Michael Skloff is a composer, pianist and songwriter from Los Angeles who’s coming to New York just to be with us for the 10th Anniversary Event. You might recognize his name from the TV show, “Friends.” Michael wrote the theme song. As a friend and as a super-talented musician, we’re so glad he’ll be with us.

Five Jewish professional singers will be singing together at our gathering. They include Cantor Danielle Rodnizki, Cantor Jenna Mark, Merri Lovinger Arian, Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller and, of course, Cantor Ellen Dreskin! This will be a musical moment to behold indeed!

And lastly, the young Cabaret performers from Play Group Theatre itself (where our event is taking place) will be presenting. This is always a highlight of the PGT season and we’re delighted to share these kids with you on Sunday.

Add a couple of consummate storytellers into the mix — Rabbis Les Bronstein and Jeffrey Sirkman — and our anniversary evening together is shaping up to be a wonderful time for everybody.

We’d love to see you there in person or to have watch online. Either way, please sign up at jonahmac.org/ten.

BillyPerforming THIS SUNDAY @ Our 10th Anniversary Event!
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Jonah’s Trading Post … Our Featured Artist: NOAH BUDIN

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Noah Budin’s been making great folk music for a whole lot of years. And those of us who love his music wait a long, long time for him to release a new album. Well thankfully, one’s coming out soon.

But before that happens, Noah has given exclusive distribution to JMF for a brief while of one track, “Only Love.” For a donation of any amount, you can hear it before the album comes out. How cool is that!

Noah was so inspired by the work we’ve been doing that he came to us and asked if he could help out. We’re really grateful to him just for sharing his music with the world. Sharing it through the Foundation is about as great as it gets!

Please download your copy of “Only Love” today. Just visit Jonah’s Trading Post.

BillyJonah’s Trading Post … Our Featured Artist: NOAH BUDIN
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“We’re 10 Years Old!” (our June campaign marches on)

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If you’ve not yet donated to our anniversary campaign, we’d be honored to have you do so here. Ten years of remembering Jonah by helping others — that’s a moment worth marking by helping us make our second decade a success as well. Thank you!


Geri Pell has been a Dreskin friend for nearly 30 years. Her son grew up with Jonah. And she has looked out for all of us from then right up to today. Geri writes:

I remember a lot of things about Jonah Maccabee Dreskin. I remember what good friends he was with my son Ben, the things they did together, the sleepovers, and the play dates when Aiden came along. But I think what I remember most was his love of music. One day, when Jonah was about 11, we were in the car together and he looked at me and said, “You know, Geri, I have a really good voice. Do you want me to sing you a song?” And so he did, and he was indeed very, very good. This leads to so many memories of Jonah performing in shows and going to see him both in community shows and at Play Group Theatre.

When Jonah was around 17 years old, many of us went to the URJ Biennial that year in San Diego. One evening there was a late night show at about 11 pm, and Josh Nelson was performing. I had never heard the amazing Josh Nelson before, but I was completely blown away by his evocative music and how it made me feel.

But more than how it made me feel, there was a group of kids at the very front near the stage, jumping up and down and hugging and loving the Jewish music. I watched as it surged to Jonah‘s blood. I marveled at how much he enjoyed his friends from camp and the Jewish music they had all came to love. I thought of what a wonderful legacy it was that Billy and Ellen had brought to him, along with the URJ and Eisner Camp.

Full circle, this is what the Jonah Maccabee Foundation means to me. It’s about carrying on Jonah’s legacy and how much Jewish camping and Jewish music meant to him. It was a way to light up Jonah‘s heart and face. I loved watching that glow. And I love watching it in every new person we bring to Jewish music and every person who’s heard it before and gets to hear it again and again.

Through its Arts Fund and Jewish Life Fund, the Jonah Maccabee Foundation has been so important to me these past ten years. I love that we have helped so many access the big ball of Judaism. There is a big spirituality in that, and it’s beautiful. I love watching the faces of people who have never heard the music before or participated in Jewish Life and are suddenly touched and infused with a new point of light in their Jewish souls.

And for this and more, his memory is a righteous one.


Jerry Wishner, along with his wife Barbara and three daughters, were part of the Dreskin’s synagogue going on twenty years. Jerry writes:

I didn’t know Jonah very well. This wasn’t unusual as I was much older, and our paths didn’t cross very often.

My three daughters did know Jonah. This seems unusual since he was between five and eight years older than them and you wouldn’t think their paths would have crossed much either. Despite the age difference, however, they remember him well from their days at Woodlands, particularly religious school. As one of my daughters explained, “Jonah was a force with limitless energy and enthusiasm. He lifted the entire room”

Still, while it may not be unusual that I didn’t know Jonah, it is my loss.

Making the world a better place isn’t always easy. If you are looking for ways to do it, hitch your cart to Rabbi Billy and the Dreskin family. Their commitment to healing the world was evident the very first time we met. Social justice, Jewish life, art and music, they have it covered. I can’t think of a better guide on this journey.

It has been a privilege to be able to support the Jonah Maccabee Foundation over the years, making the world a better place in ways that are an extension of who Jonah was and keeping his spirit alive. Supporting the foundation gives me a second chance to be in the room he lifted and helps me get to know Jonah a little bit better.


We’re so grateful for wonderfully kind donors like Geri and Jerry (homonyms!). We hope you’ll be inspired by them to donate to our June campaign.

Thank you for caring.

Very sincerely,
Ellen, Billy, Aiden, Katie and Mark
The Jonah Maccabee Foundation

Don’t miss us on Facebook and Twitter!

Billy“We’re 10 Years Old!” (our June campaign marches on)
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