(This article originally appeared in the Omaha Jewish Press.)
With the High Holidays fast approaching, Temple Israel is encouraging its members to think outside the box about what Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mean to them, and to share their ideas with the rest of the congregation. There’s just one catch: they have to do it using only six words.
The inspiration behind these six-word stories comes from Smith Magazine, which popularized the concept over the last decade, with websites and books focusing on a variety of topics, such as life, love, parents, kids, food, and even Judaism. In fact, Smith Magazine recently published a book, “Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life,” which is full of pithy sentences and phrases that cover all aspects of Jewish life, like “I worry if I don’t worry” and “Everything great comes from summer camp.”
After the success Temple Israel had last year with its High Holiday art project, “What Does the Shofar Call You to Do?” Temple Israel staff knew they had to come back this year with another fun, challenging way to engage the congregation.
“We had more than 300 responses to last year’s project,” said Program Director Wendy Goldberg. “The key for this year was in coming up with something equally creative, but different. We didn’t want to repeat ourselves. We hope these six-word stories will inspire our members to really think about what’s most important to them, and to our community, during the High Holidays.”
For years, six-word stories have been a fun, creative challenge for writers, and this year Temple Israel wants its congregants to get in on the action by asking themselves what the Book of Life means to them, or what are they atoning for this year. Stories can be about forgiveness, fasting, advice you would hand down to your children, as long as they aren’t longer than six words. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Some examples Temple Israel staff have already come up with include, “Day of Atonement: Fasting, Prayer, Repentance,” “Shofar is a wake up call” and “Can’t eat for a day? Oy!”
Temple Israel will share your six-word stories during the High Holidays as artwork hanging from the walls, spoken word pieces read during services and online.
“Reform Judaism seeks to respond to the changing needs of the Jewish people,” Goldberg said. “This is an example of how we hope to help our members connect with the rituals of Judaism. … There are a variety of ways that people can prepare for the holidays, this is a modern example.”
Do you have a Six-Word Memoir about the High Holidays you’d like to share? Temple Israel will be collecting stories through Yom Kippur. If you would like to contribute to the project, email Program Director Wendy Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org and write “Six-word stories” as the subject. You can also post your stories on the Temple Israel blog and Facebook page.