The following essay about family values, including love, was written by Isabel Lubinsky, 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. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as his/her self confidence and overall maturity.
As people get older the values that they will strive to model begin to take shape. Values can be passed down from generation to generation, or developed based on one’s view of the world. In interviews with my family, I discovered the values that stood out the most. In researching these values, I connected them to my beliefs, and my perception of the world. The nine values I have settled on are a combination of my values and values that are deeply rooted in my family’s belief system.
Education or Chee-nuch runs deep in my family; it is a value taught from generation to generation. My grandpa or Pa, Mike Faulkner, left school at 16, and experienced many different jobs such as a tree pruner, and briefly joined the RAF (Royal Air Force). Nonetheless, he went back to school and got a Master’s Degree in History and Politics. But education is not just about learning, so after completing his Master’s Degree, he went on to educate others at Barnet College, located in North London. Both my parents continued this tradition and have completed their doctoral degrees. My mum’s Ph.D. is in Cultural Studies, and my dad’s is in Urban Planning. My Grandpa, Len Lubinsky, spent his whole career in education, as a Superintendent of Schools in western Massachusetts. My Grandma, Marian Lubinsky got a law degree, and was a lawyer for about 25 years. Before that she taught English at a high school in Western Massachusetts. Nana, or Anna Faulkner, did not go to college, but was taught very important virtues, which in my opinion is just as important as an academic education. She went on to be a social worker and assisted foster children in finding a family. Clearly, my family is dedicated to not only a good education, but to educating others.
Social Justice or Tikkun Olam is a word that is commonly mentioned in our family discussions. Everyone in my family was raised with an idea of what is right and what is wrong. As children both my parents were raised with social justice playing a huge role in their lives. My mum has told me how she once had to lie down in the street with her parents as part of a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) peace protest, a movement to ban all nuclear weapons. My mum also runs a non-profit organization, helping to give kids the opportunity to be creative in building their own playgrounds. My dad and his parents support many charities such as City Harvest, and other organizations, which has helped me develop a strong sense of social justice. My dad has always taught me to think about what I can do to benefit the world, and encourages me to make a difference. This is a value my family is connected to, and it is a value that makes up part of who I am.
Determination or Hech-leh-tee-yoot is the key to success. To get anywhere in life you have to persist, keep going rather than giving up. An example from my family is when my Grandpa’s mom started her own business. As finances became more difficult my family persisted, and my Great-Grandma Ruth started her own business, which was very uncommon for women in those days. The business prospered and is still running today, and is now owned by my Great Aunt Carol. Determination is an important quality, something that my family has exhibited over the years.
Animal Rights or Tza-ar ba-ah-ley hy-eem is a subject less discussed, but after centuries of abuse many species are extinct or endangered. I think I inherited my love of animals from my Nana who lived on a farm until the age of eleven. She developed a strong bond with all the animals, and loved living on the farm. I may have also gotten my belief about treating animals with respect from my Auntie Lara. At age seven she decided to become a vegetarian and has stuck to it ever since. That is a very powerful stand to take. Animal Rights is something I have grown extremely passionate about, a value that has been reflected and influenced by my family’s beliefs.
Charity or Tz-dah-kah, like Social Justice, is about knowing that there is always someone or something you can help. Whether you are donating food, money, or clothes, or just offering a word of encouragement, you are helping someone who needs it. As a child my Grandma Marian grew up owning a small jar with a slit in it called a pushke, that she and her family would drop spare change into, to donate to the poor. This tradition started with my Great Grandma. She had very little money growing up, but always managed to put a little extra change into her pushke to donate to those even worse off than her family. Charity is a very important value that runs deep in my family, a tradition I hope to continue.
Like Animal Rights, Environmentalism or Ha-ga-not Ha-teh-va is a belief valued by my family and me. A more recent example from my family is the work my dad does. He is an architect and urban planner and works really hard to create environmentally sound, green, unpolluted, beautiful spaces in the city. It is an admirable job, and it’s a huge benefit to have people like him to create a better place for everyone. Helping the environment is something I strongly believe in, and I hope to inspire more people to build a healthy sustainable planet.
I believe that Family or Meesh-pa-cha is not just the people who share your DNA but all the people you are close to, everyone who has made an impact on your life, friends, and relatives. Family are people who support you, people who lend you a hand, or help you up when you need it. They inspire you to do better, while congratulating the work you have already accomplished. One of the amazing things about my family is how, despite being big and dispersed all over the world, my American family members have a tradition of coming together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Every two years roughly 50 people come from across the country, even some as far away as Birmingham, Alabama, to honor this holiday. It is incredible, seeing multiple generations come together to eat, drink, and give thanks. It is a very cherished tradition in our family.
Peace or Shalom is a concept that many people have wanted for the world for a long time. Peace is a word that means so much more than just not fighting. In my opinion, peace means keeping an open mindset, and allowing everyone to live their lives to the fullest. Everyone in my family tries to contribute something to make this world a better place, whether it is going on marches, or encouraging others to do good work, ultimately promoting peace and the values that were mentioned earlier.
I believe compassion or Ra-cha-meem is extremely important. To me, feeling compassionate is to feel strongly about something, and to act on it. Without compassion people would never stand up for anything, or anyone. Compassion sparks emotion, feeling, and sympathy for others. For example, if someone were to donate to charity, it is because they feel compassion for that cause and that it is the right thing to do. It motivates me to act upon all my beliefs and values. Compassion is the most central value in our family, where all of our values have originated and grown from.
Values are something people rely on, consciously and unconsciously. Values can change over time, and eventually shape the kind of person you are and what sort of impact you will have on the world.
Values that have been passed down from generation to generation have shaped me and made me who I am today. Writing this paper has made me consider how these values impact me, and how values run deep in my family history.