I came to the “My Six-Word Memoir” exhibit at gallery (401) at the Dwares JCC about a week before it was scheduled to close on April 11. Within minutes, I realized that I could not absorb what was before me in a single visit; so I arranged to return just a few days later. Upon entering the gallery for the first time, I saw on the wall to my left the beginning of a sentence: “Everybody has a story to tell…” On the facing wall was the conclusion of that sentence: “…and everybody should have a place to tell it.” I came to the “My Six-Word Memoir” exhibit at gallery (401) at the Dwares JCC about a week before it was scheduled to close on April 11. Within minutes, I realized that I could not absorb what was before me in a single visit; so I arranged to return just a few days later. Upon entering the gallery for the first time, I saw on the wall to my left the beginning of a sentence: “Everybody has a story to tell…” On the facing wall was the conclusion of that sentence: “…and everybody should have a place to tell it.” Tastefully displayed on six distinct wall spaces were 173 posters, 8.5 inches by 11 inches in size, constructed of card stock on foam core board, oriented in either portrait or landscape position – 173 unique life stories, each one told in but six words! A brief sampling – a mere taste of the variety, insight, intelligence, humor and spiritual power of these entries: “Hot sun shining on my sand” “Pain, sorrow, wisdom, smile, always tomorrow” “Good or bad, all is HaShem” “Cancer came. She kicked its ass.” vs. “Friends, family missing, lost to cancer.” A few of the memoirs made me laugh out loud: “Life is short, let’s eat chocolate” “Not Jewish? You’re breaking my heart.” While I happened to find these last six words extremely funny, others told me that they found them poignant, even deeply sad; such diverse reactions illustrate the insight that art is in the eyes, ears and soul of the beholder. The words themselves do not tell the whole story of gallery (401)’s six-word memoir exhibit. Each of the 173 posters is a unique work of graphic design, mounted upon a background of one of six solid colors: red, orange, dark or medium blue, dark green or yellow green. Among the more whimsical graphic designs: on the poster, “Passionate fundraising Jewess, tennis, bridge aficionado,” the artist circles the letters of the word “tennis” to form a tennis ball and arcs the letters of the word “bridge” to form a span. On the poster with the words “I am part of a whole,” the artist manages to squeeze the five words “I am part of a” into the O of the word “whole.” The idea of the six-word memoir is not new. According to certain literary sources – I cannot certify their veracity – Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in just six words. Hemingway’ alleged response: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Be that as it may, it is well documented that in November 2006, Smith Magazine asked its readers to submit six-word memoirs. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, several six-word memoir online sites and numerous six-word memoir books continue the concept. Jewish readers might be especially interested in “Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life,” one of a series of books edited by Smith Magazine. It includes the six words of such well-known members of the tribe as New York Mayor Ed Koch and author of the graphic novel “Maus,” Art Spiegelman. Although the six-word memoir project has been a fact of life for several years, Erin Moseley, the Alliance’s Director of Art & Culture and Next Generation Engagement, deserves enormous credit for envisioning the six-word memoir as a community event. Collecting all these memoirs in one place, setting them in a creative dialogue with one another, helps to illuminate what makes us a diverse, yet essentially unified Jewish community. Erin emphasized that the gallery (401) exhibit was a collaborative effort; she singled out for special mention Diane Cerep, Creativity Director, Michelle Cicchitelli, Director of Jewish Life, and Brian Sullivan, Director of Marketing. In addition, Erin was careful to state that a large number of additional volunteers pulled together to make this extraordinary event happen. Our local six-word memoir project tells us who we can be when we work together. In case you are wondering, my six-word memoir, printed on a background of medium blue, landscape orientation, was one of the 173 posters in gallery (401): “God is. I am. Thank You!” JAMES B. ROSENBERG, rabbi emeritus of Temple Habonim in Barrington, can be contacted at email@example.com.