Spiritual Journeying: Counting the Omer

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Rabbi Jill Zimmerman’s website and is reposted here with her permission.

Counting the Omer is a spiritual practice that is profound and transformative, universal and entirely personal. It is the next step in the Passover experience as we move out from our newfound freedom and journey into the wilderness.flowers

This year, in 2021, we started with day one the evening of the second Seder, March 28.

The Backstory

Every spring as bulbs begin to peek out of the soil from their long winter nap, we relive an epic story that is newly relevant each year and in each generation.

On the Jewish holiday of Passover, the Israelites journey from the narrow place of slavery into freedom.

In telling this story every Passover we remind ourselves and our children that freedom is possible. We do not have to stay stuck. We can join hands and move.

This paradigmatic story of the Israelites and its themes of liberation are reflected in other cultures in music and poetry and prayer. The motif is both universal and entirely personal.

The story invites us to reflect on our own narrow places and how to take the first steps into expansion on our own behalf.

The entire Exodus experience provides a guiding metaphor for each individual who seeks to untie themselves from the many ways we are enslaved or are bound up in shackles of our own making.

But wait: this powerful story has wings that fly after the seder.

Being released and redeemed from how we are bound is the beginning.

Now, we must venture into the unknown as we make our way towards Wisdom.

Counting the Omer/Sefirat HaOmer

For seven weeks (forty-nine days) commencing the second night of Passover, we count each day until our arrival at Mount Sinai, on the festival of ShavuotShavuot, is when we are given and receive Torah/Wisdom.

Here, we get a map as to how to live our lives in our freedom.

This spiritual practice is known as “Counting the Omer/Sefirat HaOmer.”

It is a time is one of soul development. It mirrors the reflection we do during the month of Elul, which precedes the fall High Holy Days. The goal is to reflect on how we can move beyond our current limits and become our best selves.

About Journey & the Urgency of Now

Some journeys we choose. Other journeys choose us. This year, each of us has traveled a journey we did not choose as we navigated through the pandemic.

As we begin to emerge from this year of challenge, it is time to take stock of what you have learned along the way.

Although it might be tempting, I urge you not to “move on” without exploring the journey you have taken this past year.

It just might be the richest soul-work you have ever done.

Come Journey With Us

There are several ways:journey

1) Download this free workbook. You can begin at any time. One question each day for seven weeks:

Journey: An Omer Workbook,
Your Guide for the 49 Days of Counting

2) Register for my most popular course: Your Spiritual Journey, Transformational Soul-Work

3-session in-depth course, offered at two different times beginning Tuesday April 13 or Thursday April 15

Rabbi Jill

PS – You do not need to be Jewishly knowledgeable or Jewish. The themes are relatable for every person on a spiritual journey.

About Rabbi Jill Zimmerman
Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman is a visionary with a plan and a lifelong seeker. She is dedicated to a Judaism that makes a difference in people’s every day lives; a Judaism based in mindfulness, and welcome. At every step along the way, Jill has lived her vision of building and sustaining community, taking her from teacher, activist, organizational development consultant, local and national lay leader and master gardener, mother and wife culminating with her decision to become a rabbi at age 47. In 1999, Jill was fortunate enough to study with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, who opened up the world of Jewish mysticism, Chasidic texts, and Torah study. A light was ignited. With only a “culturally Jewish” background and a surface-level understanding, Rabbi Jill was deeply moved and intrigued. She felt that she had discovered a treasure in her own backyard. She immersed herself in Jewish study and practice, and ultimately decided to devote the “second half” of her life to Jewish teaching and learning and helping others find the joy and meaning she had found in Jewish texts, rituals, and community. After her ordination in 2009 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion, she served as a congregational rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. Rabbi Jill’s position at Temple Emanuel was centered on building community and building membership. She revived the Caring Community and chavurot (friendship) circles, and worked with congregants on creating a welcoming atmosphere at the temple. She was blessed to work with Rabbi Laura Geller. Rabbi Jill’s deep involvement in Jewish mindfulness and meditation led her to the two-year Clergy Leadership program in spiritual practice and mindful leadership from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. In addition, she received a certificate from the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teaching Training program. In 2011, Rabbi Jill decided to leave the congregational rabbinate to laser-focus her energy on Jewish mindfulness: Judaism through the lens of mindfulness, and mindfulness through the perspective of Judaism. She founded The Jewish Mindfulness Network (JMN) to create a variety of welcoming experiences and environments to help people discover personal meaning within Jewish texts and the power of mindfulness practices within community. In 2016, Rabbi Jill created Hineni: the Mindful Heart Community, a digital online program. She continues to teach locally and nationally, as well as offer online courses. She is also a frequent scholar-in-residence at congregations across the country. Rabbi Jill has served congregations and Jewish organizations both in the States and in Israel. In addition to her position at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, CA (Director of Building Community and Membership), she worked with Temple Beth El in Riverside and Etz Rimon in Carlsbad, CA. In Jerusalem, she worked at the World Union for Progressive Judaism, assisting them in carrying out their Strategic Plan. She is an avid photographer. She has an insatiable love of reading and books. Originally from Skokie, Illnois, Rabbi Jill currently lives in Orange County with her husband, Ely. They have two sons, Josh and Ben.

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