by Dina Mann
If you could sum up your Jewishness in six words, what would they be? This is the question posited by the creators of the wildly popular Six-Word Memoir® project. The result is Oy! Only Six? Why Not More? Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life that captures the complexity, humor, conflict and passion about the Jewish experience today — six words at a time.
“Found Jewish princess. Goodbye succulent pork.”
“613 rules, one soul set free.”
“Family spends meals discussing other meals.”
“Nobody told my hormones I’m Orthodox.”
“Circumcision has been least challenging part.”
“Bar Mitzvah video used as blackmail.”
“Everything with us a question, why?”
Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life offers stories of faith and family, duty and identity, celebration and tsuris from Jews across the world, many being published in a book for the first time. The book also includes pithy takes on Jewish life from Larry David, Henry Winkler, Maira Kalman, Buck Henry, Gary Shteyngart, Tovah Feldshuh, and two Safran Foers (Jonathan Safran Foer and his mother, Esther).
“In five years of running the Six-Word Memoir project I’ve found that the number one reason a topic works is if it inspires passion and a sense of self, and the Jewish life surely does,” says SMITH Magazine founder Larry Smith (a Jewish “Smith” himself). “The limitation of the form inspires creativity rather than stifles it. For sure, we can be a wordy people, and defining our relationship to our faith in six words is a great way to get to the essence of the Jewish experience.”
Six-Words Memoirs on Jewish Life is published in partnership with Reboot, a think tank committed to “rebooting” the culture, rituals, and traditions we’ve inherited and make them vital and resonant for a new generation of Jews. “We loved the six-word project as far more than a book,” says Roger Bennett, a Reboot founder and philanthropy executive. “The process offers communities, organizations, and synagogues a powerful mechanism to engage their members in defining questions, values, and opinions in a way that range from the profound to the humorous.”
Dina Mann is the national marketing and outreach coordinator for Reboot. She was previously a social media consultant and a member of the teaching faculty of Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan.