The Omer Count is made up of both 49 days and 7 weeks. Completion of a week marks a milestone of sorts. In addition to simply making it a whole week, Day 7 is a day of transition in that it is the last day of Passover for those who observe eight days or the first day of the non-festival period, for others. It is also associated with the crossing of the Sea of Reeds (“Red Sea”), a major transition in the Exodus narrative.
We can celebrate getting this far while also recognizing that there’s a long way to go. Here are some resources, touched on during the first week, which can serve for the long haul.
Social Location, Race, and This Journey
Some of us have more experience than others in considering the basics of our social location:
Readers who enjoy certain privileges in society—because of wealth, education, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors—may find themselves thinking that these factors “don’t matter” for them as much as they might for others. If a [factor] seems unimportant or irrelevant, one might well ask why?
— Neal Elliott, Peoples’ Companion to the Bible (Fortress, 2010, p. xxix)
One way to explore these factors is through “Bible Readers’ Self-Inventory,” in The Peoples’ Companion to the Bible Introduction (free PDF on Fortress Press website). Because the original self-inventories were written for Christians, especially seminary students, I created an adaptation for Jews: “Toward a Jews’ Self-Inventory for Bible Readers,” available at Song Every Day and via Academia.edu. Neither may be an exact match, but some questions will be useful and the exercise illuminating.
The Introduction to Peoples’ Companion to the Bible is also a worthwhile resource in itself.
A related resource in terms of locating oneself, also mentioned in the Introduction, is The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities through Mindfulness. Rhonda V. Magee. (TarcherPerigee/Penguin Random House, 2019).
Early on in the book, she tells us: “We all need support in doing the work of racial justice” — and what she provides is a great support. Check out the book — now available in paperback, ebook, and audio –and/or visit the author’s website for some free resources, including her 2015 article, “The Way of ColorInsight.” She also provides mindfulness meditations and more.
When a Story Crashes
Rabbi Benay Lappe, of SVARA: The Traditionally Radical Yeshiva, teaches that there are three options in the crash of a “master story” — like ancient Judaism’s organization around temple worship in Jerusalem:
1) re-entrench, ignore evidence of dysfunction: For example: there was already a drift away from Temple service even before the destruction in 70 CE; but responses included forms of “Nothing to see here,” and then, “All will soon be as before.”
2) choose a new story: post-Temple Jews could take up Greek, Roman or Christian stories, e.g.
3) transform the old story.
The last was pursued by Rabbis of the Mishnah, who created what we now know and practice, in many forms, as “(Rabbinic) Judaism” today.
Learn more and hear the “Crash Talk” from Svara.
This page is adapted from Recounting Exodus along the Anacostia (details on book project here). This excerpt is offered as part of “Omer on the Anacostia,” a 49-stage journey from Narrow Place to What Next? in conjunction with Hill Havurah (DC). To join the daily email journey, contact omer (at) Hillhavurah.org.
This Past Week’s Readings
Count Begins — Orient Myself
1 Day Completed — Locate Myself
2 Days Completed — Starting Points
3 Days Completed — Ending Points/Aims
4 Days Completed — “Far Enough”
5 Days Completed — This Millstone
6 Days Completed — These Old Bones