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Jewish Journal

How you can participate in Ani Ma’amin, I Believe

September 28, 2011 | 1:58 pm

In the 1950’s, the renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow solicited brief statements from people across America, great and ordinary alike, in a project called, “This I Believe.” Murrow believed there was no greater need in the America of his time than assertions of principle and conviction.  Recently, NPR renewed Murrow’s project and collected thousands more such statements. They are collected on the “This I Believe” website, http://thisibelieve.org.

We believe that today’s Jewish community shares a similar predicament – the need for renewed vision, purpose and insight. So we invite you to write a brief essay about your personal philosophy for us, so we can share it with our community. Selected essays will be presented on The Journal’s website, jewishjournal.com and some will be printed in The Journal on a bi-weekly basis.

Your essay will make a difference. It will stimulate thought, reflection and discussion. We hope that essays will spur conversations over dinner tables, at synagogue services, among friends. Our community thirsts for vision and purpose. This is your invitation to share your life wisdom with the Jewish community of Southern California, and beyond. 

Here are the guidelines:

Be brief: Your statement should be between 400 and 600 words. No more.

Tell a story: Be specific. Ground your statement in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the realizations and understandings you’ve come to that are uniquely your own. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. It may be religious, it may not be. Don’t sermonize. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.

Name your belief: If you can’t name a single core belief in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Focus on just one, because 500 words is a very short statement.

Be positive: Tell us what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Make your essay about you; speak in the first person.

Be personal: Don’t tell us your views on American or Israeli or Jewish politics. Those are important, but for another occasion. We want to know what you live by. Write in words and phrases that sound like you. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly reflect your belief, as well as the way you speak.

Please submit all entries and a high-resolution photo of yourself to: animaamin@jewishjournal.com. And thank you! We hope that this will be a good experience for you, as well.

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