My Voice, My Memoir, My Community

Memoir Instructions | Important Dates | Community Partners | Memoir Suggestions

Thank you for participating in My Voice, My Memoir, My Community, the community-wide Six Word Memoir project that celebrates the diversity, vibrancy, complexity and distinctive character of Pittsburgh's Jewish community.

The vision of the project is to stimulate a meaningful conversation between members of your congregation and you. This will lead to an inspiring memoir, adding to the constellation of memoirs that narrate a personal, yet collective, account about Jewish life in Pittsburgh today.

My Voice, My Memoir, My Community is an inclusive project. All memoirs will be included. The American Jewish Museum (AJM) will display the six words exactly as they are submitted; no changes will be made to spelling, content or punctuation. If a participant signs their name, memoirs will be presented without signatures for the sake of consistency. Only memoirs that contain profanity or that are not exactly six words will be excluded. 

Ours is a community made up of people representing the entire Jewish spectrum. The memoirs will reflect the opinions of their authors. Some may challenge our individual values. Seen together, the memoirs will narrate the multiple ways we express, define, interpret, challenge and celebrate our Jewish beliefs. 

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Activity Instructions: 
Your participation means you will agree to host a Six Word Memoir activity with your congregation between June through August 2014.

Collect participants' memoirs and either send them via post to the JCC, scan and email them, or participants can email them directly to sixwordmemoir@jccpgh.org. Regardless of how a submission is made, anonymity of memoirs is ensured.  

The AJM created a worksheet to facilitate the memoir writing and submission process. Feel free to print these out for your congregants to use during your memoir writing activity. 

There is a brief survey attached to the memoir worksheet. Please encourage participants to fill it out and submit it with their memoir.
Click here to take survey 

If your synagogue has a Facebook page, please tag the American Jewish Museum if you post photos of your event. Feel free to post photos of your event directly on the AJM Facebook page and remember to tag your synagogue. 

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Important Dates to Remember: 
The deadline for memoir submission to the AJM is August 31, 2014, with no exceptions.

The AJM will exhibit My Voice, My Memoir, My Community--the six word memoirs--at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh from October 20 through December 30, 2014.

The AJM will host a reception on Monday, November 3, from 6-8 pm that celebrates the partnerships and the memoir submissions.

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My Voice, My Memoir, My Community Partners: 
Participating communities include:

If you are not currently involved with the project, but would like to be, contact Rabbi Donni Aaron at 412-339-5400. 

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Activity Suggestions: 
How you devise a Six Word Memoir activity is entirely up to you. Here are some suggestions of activities that have been successful in other communities:

Example 1
A six word activity can fit in to any kind of discussion group, barbeque, get-together, Torah study, book club or workshop already on your synagogue's calendar
To wrap up a discussion, ask participants to reflect on their interpretation or thoughts about the discussion topics via a Six Word Memoir. Leave time for participants to share what they wrote. 


Example 2
I'll give you a topic... discuss

Jewish Celebrations: Whether a bar or Bat Mitzvah, Bris or wedding, communal and familial celbrations are staples in Jewish life. What do celebrations look like in your life? How can you add more? How much is dancing or music a part of your celebrations and in what ways? 

Jewish Food: Food is a major theme in Jewish memoirs. Can you put together a menu of your Jewish food in six words? What do you have at every meal? What are some of your most memorable experiences around the table? What foods stir your memories? Can you share a recipe in six words? 

Jewish Texts: One of the most famous six-word texts in the Torah is the Shema. What do the words recall to you? Why do you think it's important? Are there stories from the Torah that you relate to? That you don't relate to? That trouble you? 

Jewish Humor: Can you tell a joke in exactly six words? 

This Week's Parsha: Too many possibilities for Six Word Memoir interpretations to list!


Example 3
People of the book: Six Word Memoirs on Jewish Life

Use the SMITH Magazine and Reboot publication Six Word Memoirs on Jewish Life to build Six Word Memoirs: 

Roll the De Game: A die coincidentally has six sides. In this game, each side corresponds to a word in a memoir from the book. One is the first word, two is the second word, etc. Choose a memoir and roll the die. Wherever it lands, pick the corresponding word and make your own memoir building upoon that word. Challenge everyone in the group to follow suit and with the same memoir. If you're feeling competitive, have everyone vote on whose memoir is best. 

Choose From the Book: Select a Six Word Memoir from the book to discuss and ask participants to respond to the published memoir by creating their own. On page 31, Rabbi Seth Adelson's entry reads, "Leviticus: Love your neighbor as yourself." Why quote Leviticus? What do you take away from his memoir? Is there any line from a text you would use for your own Six World Memoir? On page 76, Walter Mosley describes his Jewish experience as an outsider. Why do you think he would describe it that way? Can you brainstorm--in exactly six words--how your community could be more inclusive?