Last night, I facilitated a Six-Word Memoir activity for The Collegiate Leadership Internship Program (CLIP). Run through NYU’s Bronfman Center, CLIP matches undergraduate students who have an interest in Jewish life and culture to internships at for-profit, non-profit, and various Jewish communal organizations.
We started off the evening with a brief description about Reboot and the history of Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life. The idea of the project came from Ernest Hemingway's six-word novel: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” With that idea in mind, SMITH Magazine created a way for people to explore Jewish identity through only six words.
Since the Six-Word Memoir book is chock-filled with amazing, funny, deep, real, and thought provoking sentiments, I thought it best to have everyone skim through the book and find a quote that caught their eye. Once everyone got an idea of what others have written about, they sat down to write their own Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life with the following questions in mind;
Who am I? What have I inherited? What, if anything, am I going to do about it?
The ensuing memoirs came from such different places but each one had to do with something specific that had impacted the person’s Jewish life in some way.
Ilana Hoff wrote about her experience going to the mikvah (ritual bath) with her mother when she was four to complete her conversion process; “Immersed. Felt like I’d come home.”
Dorit Sosnowik talked about her experience being an only child in an Orthodox upbringing where it is expected to have a large family; “No siblings? Are you really sure?”
David Labine told us about his experience growing up as the only Jew in a predominantly Christian community “No Eucharist, please. Let’s have Manischewitz.”
Dani Kogan spoke about her confusing religious identity “Halchik woman, still won’t wear skirts.”
These are just a few examples of what people wrote about ranging from their Jewish upbringings, to their current denominational confusion, to more light-hearted sentiments about not being a JAP (Jewish American Princess). This activity brought about great conversations and thought-provoking discussions that taught me that everyone has some sort of internal Jewish battle going on and most people are questioning the same things that I am. It was a great evening that gave me, and the rest of the CLIP interns, a lot to think about.
Reboot Summer CLIP Intern, Esti Lodge