Keller-Wyman Family Values Part 2 (2013)

By June 17, 2013 November 15th, 2018 Bnei Mitzvah, Family Values
The following essay on family values,  including charity, was written by Yelena Keller-Wyman, 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.

Yelena Keller-Wyman
June 15, 2013

My family is very extraordinary. They are incredible people. Their values help make them who they are. Some of them are passed down from generation to generation. Others are learned as they live their life.

Charity, or Tz-dah-kah, is a value of mine and my family. It is especially important to Grampa Mark, my dad’s dad and Abuelita, my dad’s mom. Grampa Mark donated blood regularly for as long as he could. He and Abuelita regularly donate money to different organization, such as children’s hospitals. For holidays and birthdays, Grampa Mark often wants us to donate money in his name, rather than getting him a present. For a while, we had a Tz-dah-kah box in our kitchen. We would put loose change into it and then donate the money when it got full. Also, if I’m walking around and I see homeless people, I will give them a dollar, if I can. People helped the Jews a lot during the Holocaust, so we should return the favor and help others in need. In my family, it is taught that you think about others, along with yourself.

Freedom, or Hey-root, is an important value to my Abuelita and her family. She was born in Germany right around the time of the Holocaust. When she was about four years old, she and her mom left Germany. Her dad came later. They went to Italy to get on a boat for Chile. They had to wait a day or so for the ship, and they didn’t have any money or food. A gentleman took them out for dinner and it is thought that he slipped some money into my Great Grandmother’s purse. The ship took a long time to get to Chile, about a month. They made it to Chile and met up with her dad. Abeulita grew up in Chile until she met Grampa Mark and he “kidnapped” her and they came to the U.S. Abeulita chose to leave her home in Chile and come to the United States. She really misses Chile and likes to visit as much as possible. She came because my grampa needed to be here, and she wanted to be with him.

The value fairness, or Tzeh-dek, is important to my Oma. She is really against racism. She grew up during a time when a lot of people were racist. She moved to Africa and worked there for women’s rights. She helped to make sure money from the government was also going to women. She would go around and talk to people about what government help they were getting. She would make sure that the money was being fairly distributed. My dad was at one point a union organizer. He was also making sure things were fair. If someone wanted a union for their company, he would go in and help set it up. I grew up learning to treat everyone fairly.

The value optimism or op-tih-mee-oot is important to my grandma Janet. She is always happy and positive. This puts everyone around her in a happy mood. She never complains and turns everything into a good thing. It is important to be optimistic because it makes you happy. One quote I associate with her is, “Oh Boy.” This shows how excited she always is. We often celebrate Christmas with her and she always says that this year’s Christmas tree is the best yet. Positivity is important to my dad. He’s always saying to be positive. If you are positive, it’ll make what you are doing more fun.

The value of culture, or Moo-sar, is important to my Opa. He was born in China and has visited there. As a kid, he lived in England. He then worked in Africa, where he met my Oma. He now lives in Germany with my Oma. He and Oma travel a lot. They’ve been to France, Africa, the U.S., along with other places. He also loves languages. He can speak German, English, French, Spanish and is learning Portuguese. Culture is also important to my Abuelita. While living in Chile, she worked teaching Spanish. Now that she lives in the United States, she speaks in Spanish and in German to her other grandchildren, my cousins. She wrote a book of translations of Spanish poems. Right now, I’m learning French in school, and we do some traveling.

Protection of the environment, or Ha-ga-not ha-tey-va, is very important to my Grampa Mark. He takes a lot of hikes. When he see’s trash, he picks it up. He has a garden in the back yard. It has raspberries, beans, tomatoes and other vegetables. Whenever we go to visit him we pick berries and vegetables and go on hikes. Grampa Mark knows a lot of animal sounds and how to track them. Nature is also very important to me. Every year we go on a three-day camping trip in the woods in Massachusetts. We sleep in tents and go on hikes. I also go to sleep away camp in the summer. We spend a lot of time in nature. We go on hikes, walk in creeks, and play in the forests.

Work, or A-vo-dah. is another value which is very important to my Papa. He was a blacksmith. He loved blacksmithing and made it his job. He put a lot of pride into his job and made beautiful things. He was even featured in a house magazine for his work. When he retired, he still continued blacksmithing for fun. Unfortunately, he can’t blacksmith now. But, he has a big drill in the garage and he makes things with it. Work is also very important to my dad. He buys and sells old Jewish books. This is what he loves to do. He turned his hobby into his job, like Papa. He puts a lot of pride into his work and continues working even after he comes home. I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I hope I put as much pride and hard work into it as they do.

Art, or oh-mah-noot, is an important value to my dad and step mom Marcela. My Dad plays guitar and was in a singing group for the last couple years. Before that, he was in a chorus and would often play guitar. In high school, he wrote songs and performed in a band. We also often have music playing. He idolizes Pete Seeger and Adrianna’s middle name is after him. It’s also important to Grampa Mark, who plays the banjo. At parties he will play his guitar and sing. Marcela is an art teacher at a high school. She does a lot of sketching and drawing. She is also a great painter. A while ago, when my cousins came over, she helped us decorate boxes with paint. Her boxes turned out very pretty and well done. Art is important in my family.

My family has many different qualities that make us unique. Everyone has something to offer and teach other people. Some people are better at certain things, but that keeps us from getting boring. My family believes in many different things, and each person has a strong opinion about what they believe. That is a good thing, because it keeps everyone’s values strong. The values are sometimes in people’s personality, which can cause some people to not get along that well, but that is usually not a problem. The main values in my family are charity, freedom, fairness, optimism, protection of the environment, culture, work and art. My family wants me to be the best that I can be, so they surround me with their values. All of these values helped to shape who I am today, and who I will be in the future.

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