The following essay on family values, including love, was written by Raven Kaplan-Karlick, 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 the 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.
May 21, 2016
I asked my family about what their values are. I put these values in from my ranking of least important to most important. I will write who ranked the lowest on a value and who rated it the highest. Please note that I asked my grandmother BEFORE she passed away. So I am not trying to reconnect with the dead.
My first value is Love: Ah-Ha-Va, which ranked 10th in my list. This is important to me because love is not just love of people, its love of what you do and love of yourself. Most of my family does not have the views that I have about love. My mother feels that love of family is the most important kind of love. My aunt Gail thinks the best kind of love is unconditional. Maybe it’s because I haven’t married or ever had a big love in my life so far, but now it is not as important to me as it is to them. Maybe if I end up finding love I would value itof my family actually ranked it 1-2 except for my aunt Gail who gave it a 10 and my dad who rated it 6.
My next value is Education: Chee-Nuch. This is important to me because getting an education leads to a good life. I do not care so much about it now. I am a kid. I only know a few kids who are crazy about school. There is a boy I know who is the only boy in my school who cared about school like crazy. He did everything over and over. He always questioned me about how much work I did. No matter how much I had done, he had always done more. This annoyed me very much so. Everyone in my family ranked education between 2 and 9. My dad said 9 and my mom and Grandmother said 2.
Next is Humor: Hu-Mor. This is important to me because I like having fun and socializing with the people around me and just enjoying life. My dad loves telling jokes. No matter how he feels he will tell the weirdest jokes. My mom is a horrible singer, when she sings she laughs and so do I. Everyone ranked Humor between 1-9. My Dad rated it 1; Gail said 9.
Bettering the world: Tee-koon o-lahm is another important value for me. This is important because I love helping out people who do not have a good life. Or if a place I support needs help for children, I will gladly help. I actually did a lot of bettering the world on my own. I went with my dad to do Hurricane Sandy charity work last year and I loved it. We packed boxes of food and medicines for the hard hit Rockaways and other areas. People ranked it between 4-10, Grammy at 4, and my dad at 10.
Next on my list is Loyalty: Neh-eh-mah-noot. This is important because loyalty is a great thing to have with people and yourself. That’s why it should be important to others but at least it’s important to me. I once did a trust exercise with my friend. I knew she would be loyal to me and not let me fall. The ranks are 3 through 10. My grandmother and Gail said 3. Libby said 10.
Community: K’hee-la, is my fifth value. Helping and being a part of a community is important because it helps you meet new people and allows you to help in new ways. At her job my mom helps people who are mentally ill, and I admire her for that. Ranking is 4-8. My grandmother is at 4, and Gail at 8.
Number four is Courage: O-metz lev. Having normal courage to do something, like the courage to take risks, is important. I started playing softball. You could say it is courageous to try something new that I was never good at. Honestly I am horrible. I mean really!!! When my family left Yemen for Israel it took courage because the government of Yemen was kicking out the Jews. I believe courage is a big part of my life and should be a part of many others lives. The ranking range is 9-3 with my aunt Nina at 9, and my grandmother and mother at 3.
Number three for me is Creativity: Y’tzeer-ah-tee-oot. This, as you can tell, is a big part of me. I combine it with Optimism: Op-tim-ee-oot. It is being creative with your feelings and being happy a lot because of what you do and who you are. Creativity is being who you are. When I draw in my notebook, I create new worlds with stories and pictures. That’s why I love the idea so much. The rankings are 2-7 with my Grandmother at 2 and Nina 7.
Friendship: Cha-Vey-root. This is absolutely important to me. It’s about someone else you care about that you meet who isn’t technically related. It’s important to care for them as a friend, to talk to them and not feel weird. I like my friends because I can talk to them about anything and feel okay about it. Some things that have happened to me I share with only few of my closest friends. That’s why friendship is so important to me. Ranking is 1-8 and Nina, my mother, and my grandmother rated it 1, and Gail at 8.
Number one is wow finally here– that was quick (too quick). It’s Family, Meesh-pa-cha. I care about each one of my family members. My best friends are pretty much my family too. I care so much about them. When one of my best friends, who are like sisters to me, is absent from school, I worry if they are sick or hurt. If we part I will say “I’ll miss you” The rankings are between 1-2 except for Gail who ranked it #9.
In conclusion, I have learned a lot about myself, and the legacy of my family, through discussing these values. This experience has helped me to know who I am.