Jewish National Fund

In Memoriam: Jonathan Andrew Gitelman (February 19, 1969 - February 6, 2016)

Life is a series of events. Some are small moments and some so big they take your breath away. But what makes a life whole is the sum of all the pieces, the events both big and small, the love of those who surround you and the memories that reside in the heart. For Jonathan Gitelman, his love of family and good friends, colleagues and community, and of course, baseball, made him whole. If you ask anyone who knew Jonathan, he made a lasting impact on all those who knew him.
 
“When life throws you a curveball, grab a bat and swing.” 
 
Life threw Jonathan a curveball called leukemia. It was out of the blue. A shock. But, Jonathan always forged forward with a smile and positive attitude. He wasn’t going to let cancer bench him for long. And for five years, Jonathan fought the bravest fight. Even when life kept throwing him curveballs, he kept on swinging.  
 
“In baseball, as in life, all the important things happen at HOME…”
 
Jonathan lived his life to the fullest, surrounded by his beloved wife of 17 years, Amy, his two beautiful children, Lucas and Hannah, his extended family and a community of friends. Jonathan’s greatest roles in life were husband and father. His best, happiest days were spent watching Hannah dance or coaching his son, Lucas, in baseball.
 
Anyone who knew Jonathan knew his passion for sports. Baseball, in particular, was his all-time favorite from the time he was a young boy. He knew every stat, every team and every player. In fact, Jonathan's love of life and baseball continued throughout this 63 month battle with cancer. He never missed a beat, attending games and serving as a coach for Lucas' youth baseball team whenever he was able, in between watching Hannah’s dance recitals, which he loved. Jonathan would have been so proud that only one month after he passed away, Lucas made the River Hill High School varsity baseball team as a freshman, continuing his dad’s love of the game.
 
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”   - Babe Ruth
 
Jonathan’s brother-in-law Jeremy summed up just how Jonathan lived his life and never, ever gave up throughout his brave fight with cancer:
 
“Jonathan was selfless a man of grace, of dignity and of tremendous heart and strength. And these qualities shined so bright over these past five years, as his approach to battling cancer was the same as his approach to life: the epitome of dignity. Of grace. And of heart. He was gentle, he was proud. He responded to challenges on his terms, with a steel determination and pride.”
 
Jonathan lived caring for and about others deeply, so that anyone who knew him couldn’t help but love him back.  He lived passionately; and when cancer dared to bring him down, he looked the disease square in the eye and faced it with brave conviction. Sadly, Jonathan lost his five year-long battle with leukemia on February 6, 2016, but leaves behind a legacy of love, hope and his mantra of never, ever giving up.
 
This leads us to Project Baseball and continuing Jonathan’s legacy of life and love, baseball and family.
 
To honor Jonathan’s life while giving back to others and brining joy to the lives of kids in Israel, the Gitelman family has established a memorial fund for Project Baseball. 
 
Project Baseball is a project of the Jewish National Fund. Over the past several decades, the sport of baseball in Israel has grown and hundreds of children now enjoy America’s past-time in their own homeland. But there is a real shortage of baseball fields in the country. Hundreds of Israeli children want to play the game, but have no place to field their dreams.
 
It was not until 1979 that the first real baseball field in Israel was built. Today, baseball in Israel is a growing pastime. There are nearly 1,200 players in 16 centers and on 80 teams, and while these figures are increasing steadily every year, adequate numbers and fields are still in short supply. This is where Jewish National Fund's Project Baseball comes in. Project Baseball is focused on building state-of-the-art baseball and softball fields throughout the country while also supporting and teaching baseball and softball to Israeli youth through little leagues, summer camps, and clinics. Project Baseball gives the children of Israel an opportunity to learn life lessons while building lasting friendships.
 
Jonathan loved the sport of baseball and experienced the power it had to bring people of all walks of life together. He played baseball, he watched it, was a huge fan and he coached his own son in the game. Jonathan would have wanted nothing more than to see the joy in children’s eyes that had the chance of playing the sport on a beautiful field. 
 
Through Project Baseball, Jonathan’s life can be honored and his giving spirit recognized as we work toward a goal of bringing the joy of the game to children in Israel. Please help the Gitelman family memorialize Jonathan’s memory forever by making a donation in his name to Project Baseball.