Klein Family Values (2013)

By September 29, 2013 November 15th, 2018 Bnei Mitzvah, Family Values
The following essay on family values,  including acceptance, was written by Caleb Klein, 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.

Caleb Klein
September 29, 2013

After learning about, and writing about my family history I came up with various values from my ancestry, I also came to realize that I have some values of my own that are important to me as a person, due to my own experiences. A value, according to The Oxford Dictionary, is “worth or desirability, or utility, or qualities on which these depend.” I define “value” as something worth fighting for, or something that means a great amount to a person or being. I think that some values are more important to you than others, and the ones that are more important, you tend to try your best to follow. Here’s a list of values that are important to me.

My first value is Acceptance (Has-ka-mah). I feel acceptance is important to me because throughout my life I have felt occasionally excluded form certain groups of people, which sometimes can make me feel undesirable. Also there was a
very powerful example of this is in my family history during the Holocaust. My great grandmother, Rhoda’s family was killed because of a lack of acceptance;, this same lack of acceptance lead to the death of 11 million people, and 6 million of them were Jews.

Another one of my values is Companionship (Y’dee-doot). I feel companionship is important to me because without a companion you don’t have anyone there to help you when you’re not feeling happy; without a companion you have no one to help you with your life. The more real companions you have the better it is, because you have more people to help you. In my family there are many examples of companionship, and I exist because of them. Some of the families I know of are Louis and Sandy, Marv and Joyce, and Jennifer and David, and going up my family tree, there was Sam and Mary, Rhoda and Joseph, and Jeanne and Max, and Sadie and Harry. Companionship is also about helping others and making them feel better which makes you feel nice, like when David (dad) comes home everyday I ask him how his day was and I embrace him and make him feel good which makes me feel good.

One of my favorite values is Creativity (Y’tzeer-ah-tee-oot). I feel creativity is important to me because without creativity everybody would be exactly the same; everyone would be dull and boring. I say this because if there were no creativity we would have the same thoughts and the same ideas and I would be no different than the person standing next to me. If there were no creativity, we would still be living in caves, because no one would have come up with any ideas and humans would just be like another animal in the world. Creativity is what makes humans special; if no one was creative, no one would have thought of ways to make things easier for us. All the geniuses of the modern world were the most creative people of all because they thought of a way to make things better, that we would never have come up with without creativity.

Also artists and writers are extremely creative. Our whole world revolves around creativity. For example, my dad is the Senior Director of the NY Film Academy. He has made several films himself. To be a filmmaker and a scriptwriter, you have to have a very creative and thoughtful mind to come up with the lines, the script, and the way the actors should say the lines.

My next value is Determination (Hech-leh-tee-yoot). I feel that determination is important to me because without determination nothing would get done, for example: Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone but he never would have without a lot of determination and as my old and wise science teacher once said, “I failed my way to success.” And my grandfather Louis said, “If you’re going to do it, do it well.” My other grandfather, Marvin, saved his own money for college because his father didn’t intend for him to go to college. He was so determined to go that he saved up for it for many years and succeeded by going to college, and graduate school and became very successful as an engineer.

A value that I hope to acquire in the future is Courage (O-metz lev). Courage is important to me because my grandfather, Louis, had a fairly steady job as a young engineer, and he decided to quit and start his own engineering company. This was courageous, and taught me a lot of things about risk-taking, and having courage. Courage is a value that I hope to someday bring to my own life, and I do feel it developing in me day by day.

One of my most significant values is Equality (Shiv-yon). Equality is very important to me because I think that everyone deserves to be treated exactly the same and no one should feel better than another. One day in the car we were listening to West Side Story and my sister asked me “if you would be in one of the gangs which one would you be?” and I said neither because they were both wrong to think they were better than the other.

I know people from all different races and beliefs; as a matter of fact most of my friends are from different races and beliefs. One of my best friends, who moved away, is an African American, but the fact that he is African American didn’t change our relationship. As Jews, we should know this because many of our people’s tragic events since the beginning of Judaism have happened because someone thought that we were weaker and less valuable than they were. So we should know how important equality is.

Another great value is Humility (Anavah). I feel humility is important because if you are too self-absorbed you can lose awareness about what’s going on around you and you can become blind to your surroundings. If you’re too self absorbed you run the risk of being a bully and you’ll be known as the meanest guy or girl on the block. On the other hand, if you’re humble there’s a greater chance that you’ll be liked by more people.

My oldest value is Intellectual Passion (Ratzon). Intellectual passion is important because I feel it is what forms your personality. I have had several intellectual passions since I was 2 years old that include fire trucks, dinosaurs (this is one of my bigger passions), Pokemon, Star Wars, and most recently, ancient Greek mythology. I feel that even if someone told you that your passion was babyish or dumb you shouldn’t stop being passionate about what you love. For example, I’m 13 now and I still love to build things made with Legos. Most of my peers think that’s childish and silly, but I don’t let that stop me. I sometimes see my friends dropping their passions because other people think their passions are dumb. This ruins self-esteem, and could ruin someone’s personality, and this could also squash someone’s dream like a grape. I try as hard as I can to avoid this, and help my friends stick to their passions. This is why I believe in intellectual passion.

As I grow, I do believe that I will sprout new ideas and new values, and this will change the way I think, which shows that values are both temporary and permanent. They are temporary because over a lifetime, you change perspectives on how things work. Yet, values are permanent because some ideas are more important, and they last a lifetime.