Hallerman Family Values (2013)

By June 16, 2013November 15th, 2018Bnei Mitzvah, Family Values
The following essay on family values,  including communication, was written by Jordan Hallerman, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project; an example of this values component can be seen below. The process  improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as his/her self confidence and overall maturity.

Jordan Hallerman
June 30, 2013

When it was time for me to write my family values essay, I looked back to all of the interviews that I did with my parents and grandparents to help me come up with 5 values that I connected with the most. These values are communication (Ko-moo-nee-katz-ee-yah), humor (Humor), family (Mishpokhe), hard work (Shver Arbetn) and education (Bil-dung). For each value I will give some examples of why each important to me.

Communication is a value that was largely influenced by my mom, dad and their life experiences. I chose communication as an important value because I’ve learned that if you don’t have good communication; relationships can fall apart in the easiest ways. During a conversation with my dad, he told me that when he was little his parents yelled, a lot. He always worried that they would end up getting divorced because that happened to many of his friends and their parents. He soon realized that his parents yelled to relieve the pressure, not suppress it. This taught him that discussing and yelling are better than keeping all of your feelings in, because they allow you to solve a problem you are facing. In the interviews with my mother, she said that when she married my father, my dad was a much better communicator than she was, and that in a relationship, it is always good to have good communication because if you address problems when they are small, it keeps them from becoming big and hard to handle. In my own life I have used communication to help solve a problem by talking to my friends, if I were frustrated or mad with them about something. This is what communication means to me: being able to solve problems easily, and resolving conflicts that you may have.

After talking to my whole family I can say that education is a very important value. My grandma Audrey worked in a school as a speech pathologist, and my Grandma Hallerman worked as an elementary school teacher. Also, my father is a school psychologist in a high school and my papa is a Doctor of Psychology and the chair of the psychology department at a University. During a conversation with my mother, she told me that she was the first person in her family to go to college away from home and she was really nervous leading up to the first day, but her time in college ended up being some of the best years of her life.

There were two important stories that really struck me from my interviews. The first was from my Grandma Audrey. During a conversation she told me that she never finished college when she was young, so after she had children, she went back and worked to get both her bachelors and masters degrees at night while she raised my mom and her sister. The second story is from my Grandma Hallerman. During her interview, she told me that her mother was very demanding about her grades. For example, whenever she would bring home a 95 grade, her mother wouldn’t congratulate her; instead she would ask her where the other 5 points went.

Education is very important to me I think it is important to achieve good grades. During all of my family conversations, there was one quote that came from my mom that I really enjoyed: “Education is learning in the classroom, but it also stretches outside the classroom to an endless choice of experiences.” When I talk with my parents about pursuing my dream job, which is to work in the movies, my parents always tell me that I have to learn to be good at math and science, in order to be able to work with all of the computers and machines that the career of moviemaking requires. Education is a very important tool that you need in order to succeed in life. One of the biggest things that I have accomplished in my life so far is finishing elementary school and finishing my second year of middle school. Education is an important value because without education it makes it hard to be competitive in the world.

I chose hard work as another important value because in order to succeed in life, you need to work to achieve your goals. An example of hard work that was really important to me was from my mother’s father, my Grandpa Sid. My grandpa was born right after the Depression. Many people were not working, and it was very hard for them to find work. As soon as he became old enough, my Grandpa found whatever work he could to try to help his family by working in butcher shops, factories, and more. He told me that he never really spent a lot of time with his mom and dad because he was always working to help support them. This was a very sad thing to hear, because my Grandpa is always thinking of others and always trying to make the people he cares about happy. He told me that his worst memory was being hungry and not having enough to eat. He also said that now, he likes to treat us and go places, or take us out to dinner, because he wants to be able to do things with us that he never could when he was a kid, so that hopefully, our lives will be better than his. After coming out of the army, my grandpa wanted to work in hotel management but couldn’t find a job, so he became an insurance broker and eventually was able to build up his own business where he has been working for 50 years.

Another example of how my values have been influenced by my family is from my parents, who believe that hard work is an important value in life and I agree. Whenever it is time for me to hand in any sort of project, including this paper, my parents always tell me that they want me to do the best work I can because they always want me to be the best I can be. One funny story that comes to mind when I think of hard work is from my papa. He told me that his grandmother was the superintendent in a building and somebody had ordered a stove. Since there were no elevators, she took the stove and carried it up to the apartment on her back. My papa always tells me to work hard. In order to give me an example of the benefits of working hard, he usually talks about how he earned his P.H.D. and his chair at the Jersey City University Psychology division through hard work and that if he hadn’t worked so hard, that many things that I take for granted would not be here today. Hard work is important to me because I know that throughout life, it will always be helpful to go that extra mile (even though you may not want to.) And with hard work, you are capable of doing things that you might not thought you were able to do.

Reading through and looking back on all of my interviews, family was a very important value. Family is especially important to me because of all of the things I am able to do that I love. When I think of family I always think of the big Hanukah get togethers that we have at my Grandma Audrey’s house with all of my mom’s side of the family. I always remember this event because it’s the big event of the year that I get to spend with almost all of my mom’s side of the family. According to my mom, when she was little her family would always have big celebrations at our Aunt Celia’s house. These would be the times when the family would come together and see each other to celebrate the Jewish holidays. Just like the traditional holiday gatherings that we have now. She also told me how my grandma Audrey took my mom and her sister to California for a whole month so she could really get to know all of her relatives that lived in California. This is a bond that still lasts today.

One story that comes to mind when I think about family is from my Grandma Audrey. She told me that when she was little, she lived in Brooklyn and a lot of her family lived in the same area with her, so after school she would see her grandfather at his barbershop and then visit her grandmother at the movie theater where she worked as a matron. This shows how close her family was. (Literally!) I always think of Thanksgiving when I imagine family because it is one of the most important times that I spend with my relatives. Another story that I remember from my interviews about family was from my mom. She told me that when she was little, she lived in the same building as her grandparents, so she could just run downstairs if she wanted to visit with them. She got to spend a lot of time with them after school, or on Friday nights for Shabbat dinner. Family is a privilege that not everyone is able to have, and having all of my grandparents and parents alive, makes my life that much better. Family is an important value to me because it is one of the great things in life.

Humor was a big value on my dad’s side of the family. My dad told me that humor was a very important value to him because without a sense of humor many things wouldn’t be bearable. He told me that even when his parents were frustrated and stressed, they always tried to share a good laugh with each other to make the situation better, which is what he does with me, my mom, and my brothers every day. He also told me that humor is what binds his family together through thick and thin, and that he can’t imagine any day without a good laugh.

Another example of humor is from my Papa. He told me that in his family communication and humor go hand in hand since his family loved to laugh and talk with each other. He said that his friends would always make fun of them saying that you had to take a ticket to get into the conversation because everyone was always fighting each other to speak. Another story that my dad always talks about that makes everyone happy is from when he was very little. When my dad was very young, his parents went away on vacation, and he stayed with his Grandma Barrows. While his parents were gone his grandma asked my dad to get dressed, but he didn’t know where his clothes were, since he was used to his mom doing everything for him. His grandma replied with a smile, “Well then I guess you better start looking.” And my dad was speechless. I chose humor as one of my important values, because it brings out the best in everyone.

All of these values are important to me whether I established them on my own, or they were influenced by my family. These values are the goals that I have set in order to become the person I want to be in the future. After speaking with my family and reflecting on my own, I believe that personal values are important because they help you make choices and be the person that you are.