Counting the Omer: Protecting Each Other

May 31, 2014

You’ve heard the expression: “Stick your neck out?”  What is the metaphor?  We compare ourselves to what animal?  I always thought it was giraffe.  Long neck.  I was wrong.  To stick your neck out, is to be like a turtle.  Why?  Sticking your neck out involves risk.

Judaism takes this concept, to stick your neck out, very seriously.  Take the Jewish law about gossip, or lashon hara: If one person is gossiping to another, and a 3rd person overhears, the conversation.  Of the 3 people, who is most responsible–the gossiper, the listener, or the witness?

The 3rd person.  The witness is obligated to intervene.  There is no pass, for the passive bystander.  Judaism’s focus on the power of the witness, demands we stick our neck out– to take a risk for what we know to be right.

In the past several months, the Whitehouse and college campuses across the nation have brought new attention and resources to this concept of sticking your neck out, in response to the epidemic of sexual violence against women on campus.  Bystander Intervention, believed to be the best hope for reducing sexual assault on campus, aims to empower anyone who is witnessing potential trouble.   Read the rest of this entry »


Counting the Omer: Shabbat Wonder

May 30, 2014

“Wonder, rather than doubt, is the root of all knowledge,” taught Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.  As we count the Omer on this Shabbat, we dedicate ourselves to opening our eyes to the wonder all around us.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.

Hayom shishah v’arba-im yom, shehem shishah shavuot v’arba-ah yamim la-omer.

Today is 46 days which is 6 weeks and 6 days of the Omer.

Shabbat shalom–Your RS Clergy


Counting the Omer: Four Myths about Jewish Meditation

May 29, 2014

Thank you to our congregant, Elise Luce Kraemer, who helps to lead our regular Friday evening Shabbat-prep meditation, for this below article about helpful hints that make Jewish meditation more accessible for us all!

  1. I tried meditation once, but I couldn’t stop thinking, therefore I am “bad” at meditating.

Typically, meditation involves focusing on breath, a sound, or a prayer with the intention to quiet the mind.  However, everyone who has a working mind experiences thoughts while meditating.  The goal of meditation is not to get rid of you mind, but instead to cultivate mindfulness.  That is, to become aware of your thoughts and emotions, acknowledge them without judgment, and gently return to your practice, e.g. your breath.  Even very experienced meditators often experience “monkey mind” (where your mind is all over the place, jumping from thought to thought) when they meditate – it is simply human nature. Read the rest of this entry »


Counting the Omer: In Honor of the Memory of Maya Angelou

May 28, 2014

For teaching us the redemptive healing in telling our stories, for inspiring civil rights work not yet complete, for captivating a country with written and spoken word, thank you, Maya Angelou.  May your memory be a blessing.

On today’s Omer counting, in honor of Maya Angelou’s memory, we pray that, in her words, we may “give birth again to the dream.” Read the rest of this entry »


Counting the Omer: Liberated, Only to Be Bound

May 27, 2014

What is freedom in a world of obligation?  Liberation in a religion of responsibility?  As we move further from Pesach and closer to Shavuot, consider David Brooks’ ideas about how we are liberated, only to be bound.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.

Hayom shloshah v’arba-im yom, shehem shishah shavuot v’yom echad la-omer.

Today is 43 days which is 6 weeks and 1 day of the Omer.


Counting the Omer: Today’s Gratitude for Our Teachers

May 22, 2014

“Find yourself a teacher and acquire for yourself a friend,” Pirke Avot teaches.  This article about child care and early education rather than “day care” is an interesting reminder about the learning and care our Buerger Early Learning Center teachers bring our children every day.  Today, we were thrilled to honor our Buerger Early Learning Center pre-K teacher Suzy Curcio, winner of the Howard and Terri Abrams Teacher Recognition Award!  Thank you, Suzy, for being a teacher to us all!  We devote this 38th day of the Omer to all of our ELC teachers for the guidance and care your bring to all our children.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.

Hayom shmonah ushiloshim yom, shehem chamishah shavuot ushloshash yamim la-omer.

Today is 38 days which is 5 weeks and 3 days of the Omer.


Counting the Omer: No Appeal on Justice

May 21, 2014

10269140_10203147345139620_1557462738109838941_oStill in the afterglow of yesterday’s ruling to strike down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage, we just learned that the governor will not appeal!  The rejoicing for this step towards LGBT civil rights now feels even more real.  At this moment in the Omer, we look back from where we came, we look forward to what is yet to achieve, and we stand solidly in the present moment, grateful for what is.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.

Hayom shivah ushiloshim yom, shehem chamishah shavuot ushnei yamim la-omer.

Today is 37 days which is 5 weeks and 2 days of the Omer.