At the soul of the Six-Word Memoir project is how this simple prompt, “Tell a story in just six words,” can spark so much conversation. It’s not much of a stretch to say that Jews (among which I’m one) don’t need a lot of help conversing. So to ask us to boil down the essence of life is a challenge. That’s what we were thinking when we launched Six Words on Jewish Life as a section of SixWordMemoirs.com, the genesis of the book of the same name, one made possible with the support of the nonprofit Jewish cultural mavens at Reboot.
Since the debut of Six Words on Jewish Life, each Passover we’ve received wonderful reports about how Six Words has found a place at Seders. If you’re looking to add a conversation starter to your table this Passover, here’s a tried and true way to engage friends and family of all ages with Six Words.
1. Ask everyone to take a few minutes to think of Six Words on Jewish life. These Six Words could be very general or quite specific. For example:
• What are Six Words to describe what being Jewish means to you?
• Can you share a thought about Passover in Six Words?
• What is your Six-Word story of this past year that has brought you to this moment of reflection?
• Write a fifth question for the group to discuss, formed in exactly Six Words.
2. Go around the table and have everyone share their Six Words.
3. Ask each person to take a minute or two to share the “backstory” to their Six Words. If you have a large group, narrow it down by asking just the oldest and the youngest person at the table offer a brief backstory.
Need inspiration? Here are a few Six-Worders on Jewish Life from the teens in a summer writing program at Brandeis University called BIMA. Each summer I head to Newton, MA and teach a class with their instructor Jon Papernick in which we ask the kids to come up with their own Six Words on Jewish Life and talk about what they mean.
- “Only a Jewish boy, Mom said.”
- “We spent our budget on lox.”
- “One small Jew, one loud family.”
- “Light is off, find a goy.”
- “Old woman comes just for Kadash.”
- “Passover food coma, again next year.” (The inspiration for the title of this post.)
For even more inspiration, check out Oy! Only Six? Why Not More? Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life, 360 takes on what it means to be a Jew from everyday folks and machers like Larry David, Maira Kalman and Jonathan Safran Foer. It even looks a little bit like a Haggadah…