Counting for the Climate – The Omer Challenge
The Jewish calendar is largely agricultural, and beginning on the second day of Passover, we count the 50 days of the Omer, following the barley harvest until Shavuot. The Omer (“sheaf”) was a harvest-offering brought to the Temple. This ancient spring ritual of counting the Omer provides an opportunity to reflect on our relationship to the earth and the rhythms of the Jewish calendar. It creates a link between Passover, commemorating the Exodus, and Shavuot, commemorating the giving of Torah.
On Passover there is a shift from praying for rain to praying for dew and this coincides with the ripening of fruit in Israel. Shavuot is the day of the giving of the first fruits (bikkurim). The outcome of the season’s bounty is still vulnerable during this period of counting.
The Omer is also a time of semi-mourning, commemorating the students of Rabbi Akiva who were either killed by the Romans during the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 CE) or they died in a plague as a sign of Divine anger for not honoring one another properly, as befits Torah scholars, during the days of the Omer.
The period of the counting of the Omer is considered ripe for inner growth as well. Some people have practices of daily reflection, or work on improving one’s personality characteristics (middot) and potential inner growth.
The Omer Challenge is a chance to reflect on our environmental impacts and acknowledge the modern day plague of global warming, by counting for the climate. Our work towards redemption is in the mindfulness of how we utilize the resources around us.
We invite community members to measure their carbon emissions during this forty nine day period and to pay the social cost of those emissions forward.
It’s as simple as:
2) Pay those emissions forward to support Ganei Beantown and our social justice and sustainable future focused mission.
We encourage you to join us in taking the Omer Challenge and to ask your friends to join as well. As we spur conversation and awareness of the use of our carbon based fuels, we encourage everyone to gather and reflect at the Jewish Climate Action Network Conference on May 17th.