Spotlight on Alumni, Michael Unger

 

Michael Unger, a graduate from our 1999 class has been inspired to help others in education. His need and love for teaching has transpired into his daily life.

Q: Tell us about your experience at Abrams.

I started Abrams in 1990 when I was in kindergarten. From the start, I enjoyed my studies at Abrams. I remember that year and how much fun I had being a dreidel in the kindergarten Chanukah play and later that spring, singing a verse of “Dayenu” as a solo. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to stay at Abrams all the way until 8th grade.  Then in first grade, when I learned to read, write and speak Hebrew, I remember that I enjoyed it so much that at times, I wanted to do nothing but read, write and learn new Hebrew words. In fourth grade I faced some challenges and my parents at one point were not sure if my staying at Abrams would be the best option for me. However, I begged and pleaded with them to let me stay. The thought of leaving Abrams made me very sad. Luckily, they eventually listened to me and let me stay at Abrams. Thus, I was able to stay there, further develop my Jewish identity, improve my Hebrew speaking, writing skills, and receive a good, well-rounded secular education. Finally, in June of 1999, I was able to graduate with the rest of my classmates, just as I had planned!

Q: What is your fondest memory being at Abrams?

I think my fondest memory of being at Abrams was when I was in chorus from 5th to 8th grade and once a year we would sing in front of the governor of NJ. Once, we even got to be on TV!

Q: Tell us about your life after Abrams.

After Abrams, I went to public school. It was a huge adjustment for me being a minority in a big school. Only 15% of the students were Jewish. However, I made sure to continue my Jewish education by taking courses at Gratz College twice a week.

Q: What or who has inspired you to be a tutor?

What inspired me to be a tutor is the fact that I like to help people and who inspired me, and I would have to say all the wonderful teachers whom I had during my Abrams years.

Q: Have you traveled different places to tutor?

I have traveled to different countries, but never to tutor until now. I am currently in Honduras tutoring in English, French and Hebrew. My original plan was to teach a full class in Honduras, but at last minute, I was informed that they could not hire me due to budget cuts. However, I already had a plane ticket to Honduras. So, I decided to make the best out of the situation. When I arrived at Honduras, I placed an ad in a local newspaper and now, I have two students! I also plan on making flyers in order to get even more students. Moreover, I was interviewed by the French Alliance of San Pedro Sula, Honduras and hope to hear from them soon about a possible teaching position.

Q: Has Abrams impacted your approach on Zionism?

A: My Hebrew and Jewish studies teachers had always taught me the importance of Israel in Jewish life. They inspired me to love and cherish Israel. Whenever I hear somebody talk badly about Israel, I feel like they are stabbing me in the heart, because Israel is, has always been and will always be deep within my heart!

Q:  If you would like to let people one unique thing about yourself, what would it be?

Being that I like to travel a lot, I would say a unique thing about me is that I collect souvenir t-shirts from the different countries and places that I visit.

Q: If you could give our students advice, what would you tell them?

My advice to Abrams students would be to cherish your Abrams education days, because they will fly by very fast, because they sure did for me and I sure do miss them.