In memory of Jonathan
Words in memory of Jonathan Fernhout z”l
In his life, Jonathan reminded us of the way a sunflower grows. The sunflower starts out as a small seed, becoming a sprout and slowly growing. Before the sunflower opens, it has a protective cover on it and when the petals are ready to open up, the cover falls off and the sunflower opens to its full splendor. Jonathan was a shy and introverted boy, but inside he grew and developed, and when he was ready, he opened up to the world with his entire splendor, and the world gave him a large hug back. The youngest child in the family, he grew up to be the man of the house, thirsty to experience life. His radiant smile, magnetic personality and kindness are the things that are missing the most in our lives today. To his family, Jonathan was an amazing son and brother, and we wanted him to be the number one uncle for our children. This was not easy, because whenever people got to know him well, Jonathan became part of their lives – professional, trustworthy and dedicated – and they were not ready to give up on him. The owner of the restaurant where he worked wanted him as a partner, the family with whom he worked wanted to adopt him forever and in the kindergarten where he worked, children and adults alike fought for “Yoni time”.
Even as a child, Jonathan loved to support others, make others laugh and help out, especially those not as fortunate as he, and particularly children who were not being looked after. He always selected jobs and occupations where he would have contact with people; he enjoyed talking and listening, and thanks to his happy, engaging and encouraging personality, people talked and shared with him, enjoying the optimistic feeling he knew how to inspire in others.
At some point, he made his natural connection with children his profession and worked as a pre-school teacher. His ability to touch a child was magical. Jonathan recognized, even without words, what each child needs, whether it be listening, providing support, or just being a playmate. He could show a child how special he/she was, point out the child’s powers and make him/her laugh, smile and play. It was never clear whose smile was bigger – Jonathan’s when he saw the children or the children’s, when they saw Jonathan.
Then his life was cut short. His loss came as a blow to the body and the soul – suddenly, we couldn’t breathe. Jonathan had radiated so much energy around him and it is that energy that we want to preserve, to pass on to children as he saw them, and to bring them joy, love and laughter. Especially for the transparent children, those who most people choose not to see.
Because of his great love for children, especially those who were marginalized and passed over, we chose to commemorate his memory by continuing his life’s objective, that of “providing education and love for every child” and to invest in the frameworks of “Unitaf” – to give these children a loving, supportive and safe framework. A framework that allows each child to grow up feeling that he/she is loved, is special and is able to grow and become whatever he/she wants.
“The Jonathan After-school Center” is the fulfillment of this goal.
May his smile be remembered forever.