For almost twenty years, I have been counting and crafting the Omer with my chevruta, my family and my community, each year adding at least one new practice to further embody and beautify the qualities of the Omer Period.
I began counting the Omer with my chevruta in Oakland, CA in the early 1990’s, meeting weekly to reflect on the journeys of our lives within the framework of the Omer Period. We began using Rabbi Simon Jacobson’s now classic flip book when it was first published in 1996 and, over the years, a sweet format has evolved that includes reading from the flipbook, followed by a period of silent sitting meditation and then sharing what is up for us in our lives. Our discussion is guided by the particular combination of sefirot for that day, and that is the lens we look through to further cultivate the qualities of boundless lovingkindness; discipline and mindfulness; beauty and compassion; endurance and determination; humility and awe; bonding at our core; and open-hearted majesty in our lives.
Several years ago, we began integrating chanting into our Omer counting practice, matching one of Rabbi Shefa Gold’s chants to each of the sefirot and, also, choosing a chant to recite throughout the Omer Period. Now, we begin and end our gatherings with periods of chanting, further embodying the qualities of each day, each week and the entire Omer Period.