Counting the Omer – continued

Barley has more genes than humans. Credit: Alexander von Halem Cool fact discovered by searching for "barley" images on Google

Barley has more genes than humans. Credit: Alexander von Halem
Cool fact discovered by searching for “barley” images on Google

[continued from Counting the Omer]…I was asked to get involved because I have led meditation sessions at Tikvat Israel for several years, and our rabbi and lead organizer wanted to have a meditation and/or yoga element in the programming.  We opted to devote the preliminary prayers for a Shabbat morning service last week, May 7, to a contemplative approach to the prayers that precede the main liturgy of the morning service.

The rabbi, the cantor, and I met several times to coordinate our efforts, and we ultimately led a group of about 20 or so participants in guided meditations focused on the morning prayers.  I wasn’t sure how it would work out – even though I am happy to introduce meditative practice to my friends and fellow congregants – I myself am a traditionalist, and I prefer the standard liturgy.  I’m not that interested in messing with it.

It ended up working out better than I ever anticipated.  Many congregants approached me afterwards with enthusiastic thanks and compliments, and requests that we do this again (?!?!).  And, despite my own ambivalence about the idea of replacing the liturgy with an interpretive approach, I think it was a success.  I had always hoped that we could schedule a meditation program before the morning services, but that’s probably not realistic – I can barely make it to synagogue at the usual starting time of 9:30am, let alone getting there earlier!!  So, who knows?

The next program in the Omer Project was the Keynote Address by Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, LCSW, Rabbinic Director, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services and last Thursday, we had a night of Israeli dancing, led by Yesodot.

Upcoming programs in the Omer Project will explore Mindful Eating, Creative Work of our Hands, a drumming circle, and a discussion on coping with loss.  All of this will culminate in Tikkun Leil Shavuot, and evening of study of Torah before the celebration of Shavuot – the Festival of Weeks, and also the celebration of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

And during the entirety of this 49 day counting – we have been sharing quotes from a book called Omer: A Counting, written by Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar and published by CCAR.  This book is written by a Reform rabbi, with a very Reform perspective, which feels a little strange to me, but I am enjoying reading the books (and the cards have provided me with a concrete way of marking the days, which is helping with the discipline of keeping the count).

So, I’m still counting, and wondering where the journey will lead me.

If you happen to be in the Rockville, Maryland area, come and check out the upcoming events in the Omer Project at Tikvat Israel.