Counting the Omer for Black Lives

 In celebrating Passover, we recognize that the liberation of our people is always intertwined with the liberation of all people. We continue a Jewish legacy of joining racial justice movements in resisting white supremacy and the forms of oppression that stem from it. The struggle for Black liberation is central to that resistance, and the Movement for Black Lives is at the forefront of their struggle.

From the second day of Passover until Shavuot — for 49 days — Jews count the Omer. This daily counting practice, traditionally done out loud by blessing and counting the days, brings us from our break for freedom in the exodus into revelation at Mt. Sinai. There is a link here, in our Jewish calendar, between the actuality of our liberation and the act of receiving texts that challenge and inspire us, directing us towards building a world rooted in justice and liberation.

White supremacy seeks to position Jews and other historically marginalized people against each other, attempting to prevent us from building solidarity together. We defy this by supporting each other and amplifying our collective power, instead. Sharing our commitment through Jewish ritual is one meaningful way to do this, which is what inspires us to count the Omer this year with the Movement for Black Lives policy platform: A Vision for Black Lives.

The platform is comprehensive in its policy demands, and some American Jewish communities objected to parts of the platform’s content when it was first released in 2016. That also inspired us to do this: We’re supposed to read texts during Shavuot that are rigorous and challenging to us! It’s all the more important for us to dedicate our attention to this platform in its entirety from leaders in the movement for Black liberation. We invite you to read the full platform with us and thoughtfully grapple with it over the next 49 days.

Count with us each day! For each day of the Omer — from March 31st until May 19th this year — we’ll be sharing insights from the Movement for Black Lives platform via JFREJ Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts as we count the Omer together. You can join us by using the #Omer4BlackLives hashtag, following JFREJ on social media, and sharing the posts each day.

If you want to include the ritual of counting the Omer, then each evening, before or after looking at that day’s #Omer4BlackLives offering, say this blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹמֶר.
Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al s’firat ha’omer.
“Blessed are You, G-d, Creator of the world, who blesses us through the commandments and commands us to count the omer.”