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why i'm counting the omer this year

By Anne Kinderlerer

It is 49 days from 2nd night Pesach to Shavuot, from liberation to revelation. It is a mitzvah to count those days that lead us out of fear and to Mount Sinai where we experience Torah. Freedom is frightening, it forces us to face what happened in the past, to acknowledge that we were slaves and part of the system that enslaved us and to start to think about what it might be to chose differently.

This year more so than ever before, as I look back on the last two extraordinary and difficult years, I feel the need for a structure that supports me to move away from fear, shame and grief and back to prayer. This mitzvah of counting the Omer feels like a ladder, one step each day in the ascent towards redemption.

We find only the blessing and the formula for Counting the Omer in our Siddur. Traditionally Counting the Omer consists of five distinct steps: opening with a meditation, saying the blessing, reciting the count, reading psalm 67, and closing with a prayer on behalf of those still in captivity. It felt important to me to follow that traditional formula and I’ve collected the prayers here:

The opening meditation rests our attention on bringing the letters of the unique name of God together, just as we do when we bring the four tzitzit (fringes) on the corners of the tallit together for the Shema. An acknowledgement of the brokenness of the world and of God’s pain and our role in healing. We then state our readiness to perform the mitzvah. It was important to me to include the grammatically correct prayers in the Hebrew so I am speaking of myself. I also include both feminine and masculine God language for the blessing. We read psalm 67 because it contains 49 words rejoicing in God’s blessing. Then there is a choice of prayers to ask for God’s strength in repairing the world and rescuing those in danger.

I write this to lean on your support, and to support you, to perform this mitzvah of counting each day for 7 weeks.

I've used the following sources both for this blog and for the prayer sheet

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