The Six-Word Memoir Blog

“Keep Calm and Eat Some Challah”—Six Words on Jewish Life, Live in San Francisco

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

By Larry Smith

“Jewish geography…better than Google Maps.”
“I left my heart in Israel.”
“My grandchildren? Wait, I have photos!”

What makes a good Six-Word Memoir? After reading more than 600,000 submissions to the Six-Word Memoir project from SMITH and publishing seven books of our favorites, the short answer is passion. We’re passionate about how we define our lives, our love, our work-and, of course, our faith. Boiling down faith to just six words forces you to get to the essence of what your faith means to you—so it’s not surprise that six words has proved to be popular prompt is churches and synagogues.

With the support of the Jewish cultural mavens at the nonprofit organization, Reboot, we kicked our look at faith with “Six Words on Jewish Life.” From identity and mother issues (see above), unfettered love of kugel to inner conflict over Israel, and the sheer joy of discussing and debating… everything, we all have a bit of the Jewish life within us. Our book, Oy! Only Six? Why Not More? Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life, offers 360 ways of looking at Jewish life—six words at a time.

Of course, there’s a larger story behind most Six-Word Memoirs, which is why we’ve created a series of live events in which storytellers offer six-minute “backstories” about their six words. On February 4, 2013, at San Francisco’s Elbo Room, a curated group of storytellers shared the stories behind their memoirs, sparking conversation and discussion behind the backstories among the more than 130 people—Jews and the Jew-curious alike.

To put this show together, we gathered a steering committee of young Jews from various local organizations to help us develop and shape the live Six-Word Memoir program to engage young Jews from around the Bay Area. The event included a happy hour and interactive tools for people to write their own Six-Word Memoirs that ranged from the high-tech (a live texting system that projected the six-worders for all to see) and low-tech (a chalkboard and button station to share your sixes).

But the main event was a sensational show of storytellers, an eclectic group of young comedians, storytellers and musicians including comedian Aurora Simcovich, musician Aaron Glass, Wise Sons Deli owner Leo Beckerman, writer Josh Healey (see a video of his intense and hilarious story above), designer extraordinaire and singer Rebecca Bortman, poet Dyanna Loeb, and modern-day storyteller Aviva Frank. At the show’s end, audience members shared their own stories during our “Six-Word Slam.” Check out some of the memoirs from our photo both in the slideshow below:


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The event was sponsored by the SF Jewish Community Federation’s IGI Committee. The SFJCF’s Young Adult Division (YAD), the Young Adult Community at Congregation Emanu-El and the Contemporaries at the CJM were partners and all helped to promote the event. Big thanks to steering committee members, all of whom helped to make the show a smash, including: Dan Rader and Meg Stewart of Moishe House SF, Leo Beckerman of Wise Sons Deli and Reboot, Amy Widdowson of Say Media and Sherith Israel, Ian Pedowitz of the SFJCF’s YAD, Rebecca Siegel of the Oshman Family JCC Palo Alto, Sarah Schulweis of Say Media, Ada Ruzer of Kevah, Briyah Paley and Gravity Goldberg of the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Below you can read many of the six-word Jewish gems that the audience shared that evening via text, in the photo booth and during our “slam.” We hope their sixes spark you to share your own short take on Judaism on our Six Words on Jewish Life section or the comments area of this post. As my grandma would surely say were she alive and sixing: “Try a little six—it’s good.”

One bottle Manachevitz equals worst hangover! - Dan Rader
Jewish girl on the town. Danger! – Dorrie Slutsker
It’s not just a clever name. – Sarah Schulweis
Gefilte fish: Why isn’t it extinct? - Daniel Stochel
Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes. - Amy Widdowson
She was either quick or hungry. –Aimee Davis
The struggle for survival will continue – Adam Kelly
There’s no shalong without the Ommmm. – Aaron Glass
Resistance is futile: eat more brisket! - Benjamin Abram
It’s a small world after all. - Ariel Dorman
Seinfeld. Yiddish. Matzo Ball Soup. Community. - Neil Gandler
Keep calm and eat some challah. - Taylor Braun
Jewish geography…better than Google Maps. – Rebecca Siegel
Love the sandwiches and the songs! - Dan Rader
East Coast. West Coast. Always Jew. - Meg Stewart
Jewfro from hell. Keratin saves life. – Jill Abrahams
Favorite Jewish things: Seders and Hora! – Matt Trocker
Open fridge, Always see chicken soup. – Albert Bergman
My grandchildren? Wait, I have photos! – Alice Lawrence
Thanks goy mom for the nose. – Michelle Quint
I left my heart in Israel - Ada Ruzer
Reclaim Aliyah backwards. Guilt free Jew-ess! – Aviva Frank
Matzo ball soup, kugel, macaroons, diet. – Sandra Lampear

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