We are affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the association of Conservative congregations in North America.
FROM THE RABBI
by Rabbi David Klatzker
COUNT UP – OR DOWN
Many CJCers are counting the days until July, when we expect the merger with Dix Hills Jewish Center to be official.
Coincidentally, observant Jews are now “counting the Omer.” Each night, for the 49 days from Pesah to Shavuot, we number the new day that has begun (“Today is the first, second, third, etc., day of the Omer”). In Hebrew, there are two variants to this counting, each equally valid—“Today is the nth day within the Omer (ba-Omer),” or “Today is the nth day toward the Omer (la-Omer).”
Perhaps these alternatives represent different personality types. The “ba-Omer” personality savors the moment. “Ba-Omer” expresses a “be here now” attitude. On the other hand, the “la-Omer” personality stresses the future, looking toward the final goal. Which type are you?
I think the two complement each other. As regards the merger, please note that our synagogue doors are still open. Until the summer, we will continue to hold services, teach our children, and do tikkun olam. We should make each and every day count. At the same time, who doesn’t look forward to new relationships, new possibilities, and new opportunities for service? We won’t lose the bonds that we have established at CJC over the years; we can find new ways of relating and building the connections we already have, even as we sink roots at DHJC and begin an exciting period of growth and development.
Anthropologists have noted that a good ritual is one which leaves a lot of room for varied interpretations. Counting the Omer is a simple act, but you can relate it to your life in a number of different ways. Count up or count down.
Notes on Omer counting:
For more information, see the guide in http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Passover/In_the_Community/The_Omer/How_to_Count.shtml
Unaccustomed as we are to mark time’s passage, an Omer calendar may help to remind us. For a calendar based on the Torah of Homer Simpson, see http://homercalendar.net/Welcome.html . Rabbi Krustofski would approve. There are also Omer-counting apps for Iphones and Android phones.
According to Conservative Jewish practice, even if you have failed to count the days until now, you are still permitted to say the blessing each night, if you wish.
And how about some other ways to interpret this daily counting? I’m reminded of what I do when I want to get rid of a bad habit—I give myself a deadline. To give up on sugar forever would be impossible to contemplate, but to give it up for a week or a month is doable. Why not use the Omer-counting to help you focus on whatever old habits you’d like to get rid of? Or you might try to adopt a positive habit, or take on a new project, during the Omer period, one day at a time. Every day is an opportunity to improve ourselves.
Green Omer: Some people buy flowers or plants each week of the Omer as a reminder of the harvest (remember that Pesah and Shavuot are also harvest festivals).