Counting the Omer 2021 – WEEKS 3 & 4

WEEK THREE : 11 – 18 APRIL 2021

BLESSING: 

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu be’mitzvotav ve’tzivanu al Sefirat ha’Omer. Ha’yom, yom echad [sheni, shlishi…] ba’Omer.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us through Your commandments, and has commanded us to count the Omer.

Today is Day [one, two, three.etc.] of the Omer.

11-12 APRIL : Today is Day 15, which is 2 weeks and 1 day of the Omer 

SAMECH Psalm 119:113-120 

Se’afim – I hate those who are double-minded, but I love Thy Torah. 

               Thou art my hiding place and my shield.

Se’afim are those who irresolutely waver between two or more courses. In verse 112, the Psalmist declared that he has set his heart on fulfilling the will of the Lord and walking in His ways, forever and to the utmost of his abilities. In so doing, he finds a faithful shelter and a constant shield of protection in God’s Presence.

Torah, the Word of God, is mostly comprised of the word orah, which means light. The Torah is the basis of God’s instructions on how to walk in His ways. It’s not meant to be a heavy load but without orah – it is heavy. When we live in His love, truth and revelation it is light.

Let us treasure and stand in continual awe of the unshakable Word of the Almighty.

12-13 APRIL: Today is Day 16, which is 2 weeks and 2 day of the Omer

 

AYIN Psalm 119:121-128 

Asiti – I have done justice and righteousness;… I love Thy commandments more than gold, yes, above fine gold.

The enemies of the God of Israel attempt to undermine and destroy the Word of God. The Psalmist chooses to act in the “justice and righteousness” as taught in the Torah because he loves the Lawgiver and His commandments – they are his eternal treasure.

Abraham’s hopes and fears are ours. The Divine future does not mean that we can leave the future to God. Abraham realized that God was depending on him – He needed him! Faith does not mean passivity. It means the courage to act and never to be deterred. The future will happen, but it is we – inspired, empowered , given strength by God’s promise – who must bring it about.

12-13 APRIL: Today is Day 17, which is 2 weeks and 3 day of the Omer 

PEH Psalm119:129-136 

Pe’laot – Thy testimonies are wondrous…The unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

‘Wondrous’ here denotes beyond one’s reach and understanding. The great wonder lies in the reality of God’s desire to communicate with His people and in how He makes it possible in the unfolding of His Word, which sheds light and grants us understanding.

Every Shabbat, every festival, every new day, reminds us to be surprised by the newness God has to offer. We need to be in wonder at this newness that He offers us constantly. Every breath is new – the one before, like yesterday, is gone. With this understanding, we can pray meaningfully. Pray what our Father wants of us today; then we can can give to others in harmony and cooperation with Him.

~ Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

 13-14 APRILToday is Day 18, which is 2 weeks and 4 days of the Omer 

TZADI Psalm 119:137-144 

Tzaddik – “Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and upright are Thy judgments….Give me understanding that I may live.”

Again the Psalmist cries for insight and understanding of God’s judgments, of His righteousness and truth, for he knows that in them he will find true life.

“…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

14-15 APRIL: Today is Day 19 which is 2 weeks and 5 days of the Omer 

KUPH Psalm 119:145-152 

Karati – I cried with all my heart; answer me O Lord! … Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness.”

The cry in verse 146, hoshieini, Rabbi S.R.Hirsch translates as, “Grant me a new, unbowed being.”

Life is filled with tests and challenges and those who oppose the ways of God, often aim to see a godly person’s downfall. Our hope is in the unwavering chesed, lovingkindness, of our Father in Heaven. He is always there to hear our cry when we cry to Him with a whole heart. In His love we can stand strong and unbowed before men.

15-16 APRIL: Today is Day 20 which is 2 weeks and 6 days of the Omer 

RESH Psalm 119:153-160 

Re’eh – Look upon my affliction and rescue me, for I do not forget Thy Torah. …The sum of Thy Word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting.”

God not only hears but He sees. His eyes are continually upon His children and He is ready to help in our afflictions.

The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 146:5-9, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob…who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. …The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; He upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.”

16-17 APRIL: Today is Day 21, which is 3 weeks of the Omer 

SHIN – Psalm 119:161-168 

Sarim – Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Thy words.”

“We sin against God, first and foremost, because we scoff at His Word and act contrary to His will.”

~ Rabbi S.R.Hirsch, The Hirsch Psalms

May our hearts be open and transparent before the Lord and our lives fully committed to His Word of light and life.

WEEK FOUR : 11 – 18 APRIL 2021

BLESSING

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu be’mitzvotav ve’tzivanu al Sefirat ha’Omer. Ha’yom, yom echad [sheni, shlishi…] ba’Omer.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us through Your commandments, and has commanded us to count the Omer.

16-17 APRIL:  Today is Day 22, 3 weeks and 1 day 

Tav Psalm 119:169-176

 Tikrav – Let my cry come before Thee O Lord 

Deliver me according to Thy Word. …Let my soul sing of Thy Word, for all Thy commandments are righteousness.”

In the knowledge that God hears our cries and is ready to help and deliver, we can sing a song of praise to extol Him and the faithfulness of His Word.
Every person has his or her own special, unique song; one that will bring blessing to our Father and to others.
We need to recognize it and to have the faith and courage to bring it forth.
You can touch the lives of others. The world is waiting to hear your song!

Note:  We have reached the end of Psalm 119 and will continue with a selection of Omer thoughts. 

 

17-18 APRIL:

Today is Day 23, which is 3 weeks and 2 days of the Omer

 

This is a season of Revelation. When we set our hearts in the direction of Love and Truth, of immersing ourselves in His Word with a deep desire for more intimate knowledge of the Beloved of our souls, this earnest searching and learning is where the miracle process of revelation begins to unfold.

“A man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God. … we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.”

~ C.S. Lewis

 

18-19 APRIL: Today is Day 24, which is 3 weeks and 3 days of the Omer

He has every day of our lives in His hands.

Every moment of the seven days between our physical departure from Egypt and the stunning deliverance at the Sea of Reeds was carefully and lovingly choreographed by the Holy One. What seemed to us at the time to be confusion and aimless wandering around in the Desert, a mere chariot charge away from Pharaoh and his army, was all part of a Grand Strategy planned before the foundation of the cosmos.

Before we left the border area of Egypt, we simply had to see Pharaoh for who he really was. And we had to see ourselves for who we really were. And, most importantly, we had to see our God for Who He has always been, is today, and will forever be.

~Bill Bullock, The Rabbi’s Son 

 

19-20 APRIL: Today is Day 25 – which is 3 weeks and 4 days of the Omer

In ALL things give thanks – for He is constantly working ALL things together in His love for your total and eternal good!

“This is one of the miracles of love; it gives – to both, but perhaps especially to the woman – a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.

To see, in some measure, like God. His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him. We could almost say He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees.”      ~ C.S. Lewis

20-21 APRIL: Today is Day 26 – which is 3 weeks and 5 days of the Omer

I AM HIS! Each one of us, as human beings, is uniquely created by God in His image and likeness. We are specifically formed and sent into this world to live out the purpose for which we were created.

“That which allows me to fulfil my full potential, to soar to my highest heights, is freedom. True freedom, the highest freedom, is the freedom that comes from submitting to our Creator; then we are bound to a force that allows us to sing [our own uniques song” [one that He composed for His glory.]

~Rabbi Pesach Wolicki 

 

21-22 APRIL: Today is Day 27 – which is 3 weeks and 6 days of the Omer

Our hearts can be filled with anticipation for this great day!

‘On this mountain [Zion] the Lord of Hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine… And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord, YHWH, has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:6-8)

The Exodus from Egypt only appears to be a past event. But, in truth, the Exodus never ceases. The arm of God that was revealed in Egypt to redeem HIs people’s constantly outstretched and constantly active. The revelation of the hand pf God is the breaking through of the light of God, shining great lights for all generations.

~ Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook

 

22-23 APRIL: Today is DAY 28 – which is 4 weeks of the Omer

In ALL things give thanks – for He is constantly working ALL things together in His love for your total and eternal good!

“There is such a hunger in the world, a hunger for something beautiful and holy.
A hunger for one good word, for a message from God.
People who are hungry for something lofty and glorious love each other so much.
Spiritually hungry people feel so close to each other. 

Yerushalayim, the Holy City, is headquarters for the hungry people.
’And I will bring them to My holy mountain. And I will make them glad in My House of Prayer,’ the prophet Isaiah says,
‘For My House will be called a House of Prayer for all nations.’”

 ~ Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, The Heart of Jerusalem

The 49 Days of the OMER  –  COUNTING UP TO REVELATION

The 49 DAYS of the OMER    COUNTING UP TO REVELATION

Teach us to number/count our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

The biblical calendar is a measured walk through time that is made holy by His Presence with us.

Counting the fifty days from the second day of Passover to the Jubilee day of Pentecost, or Shavuot, is called Sefirat Ha’OmerCounting the Omer. Two questions immediately spring to mind: “What is the Omer?” and “Why should we count it?” 

The Hebrew word omer literally means ‘measure.’ Biblically, it is associated with the offering of the first sheaf of the barley harvest in the Temple on the sixteenth day of Nissan, which is the second day of the festival of Passover.

And you shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven full weeks shall they be, counting fifty days to the morrow after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a cereal offering of new grain to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah; they shall be of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven, as first fruits to the Lord (Leviticus 23:15-17).

The date of the Festival of Shavuot/Pentecost/Weeks is set according to this date. Forty-nine days, or seven weeks /shavuot, which gives the festival its name, are counted and Shavuot is celebrated on the fiftieth day. The Greek term related to the word fifty is pentekostei, from which the English name Pentecost is derived. These concepts – the “measure” of the omer, the counting of days, the symmetry of the weeks – instill within us an awareness of the balance, harmony and stability of God’s appointed times. Nothing is haphazard or insignificant. The biblical calendar is a measured walk through time that is made holy by His Presence with us.

The question remains, “Why should we, in our modern times, count the days between Passover and Pentecost?” We can find answers to the question on many levels. When, for example, we consider the agricultural cycle of the Land of Israel we see that this is the time between the first harvesting of the barley crop and the final grain harvest of the wheat. It is a critical time for the grain farmers; indeed for the nation, as bread is a staple food. Each day the growing crops are carefully checked, the weather is anxiously observed, the days to harvest are counted. If anything fails, a famine could ensue. How does this apply to us today, however? We can buy bread ready packaged, even sliced, every day!

At Passover the whole sheaf of the first-fruits of the harvest is waved as an offering to God, chaff and all! Passover is the season of Deliverance. We receive the gift of salvation from God’s mighty outstretched arm and, as those enslaved to sin, all we can bring before Him as an offering is ourselves, with the chaff of our sin and all! Then, we immediately set out on our journey of freedom and new life. Every day we learn something new. God draws us, with great longing, ever closer to Himself.

When the Israelites were redeemed from slavery in Egypt, they needed to be set free from an engrained slave mentality. After witnessing the miracles of God and proclaiming Him as their God and King, their passage from the Red Sea to Mount Sinai was a time of preparation. Their minds were being renewed in order that they might receive the great revelation of God that awaited them at the mountain. So it is with us. When we are redeemed from sin and death by our Father’s loving grace, through the sacrifice of the blood of the Passover lamb, we need a season of transformation – a renewing of our minds and hearts – before we can stand in the place of greater revelation of the glory of God. We must consciously move forward on our journey, covered by the cloud of His mercy, before we can stand at the Mount in the fire of His glory.

FIFTY DAYS OF PREPARATION

The walk from redemption to revelation is not a random wander. God is a God of purpose and order. His greatest gift to His children, after the gift of life, is the potential and the ability to change and to grow as we learn of Him and follow His ways. 

True freedom that has worth, reality and meaning is only found through the Word of God and the power of the Spirit of holiness given at Shavuot.

Counting the Omer, the significant days between Passover and Pentecost – Salvation and Revelation – reminds us that our journey of faith is a daily walk, and we must actively participate with our Good Shepherd in it. He provides us with the “raw materials”, comparable to the sheaf of first fruits waved at Passover. At Shavuot, however, two freshly baked loaves of bread are waved as an offering. The production of loaves of bread that sustain life – the harvesting, winnowing, grinding, mixing, kneading, baking – requires man’s efforts. If we work with Him, we can joyfully offer our Father the “two fragrant loaves” of the fruit of our labor at Pentecost.

 

HOW TO COUNT THE OMER

Traditionally, the count of the day and the blessing is said in the evening, but if this is missed it can be done during the following daylight hours.

Blessing to recite:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu be’mitzvotav ve’tzivanu al Sefirat ha’Omer. Ha’yom, yom echad [sheni, shlishi…] ba’Omer.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us through Your commandments, and has commanded us to count the Omer.

Today is the first [second, third…etc.] day of the Omer.

It is advisable to print out calendar pages, or have a means of checking off the days as you count from the first evening through, the fiftieth day, when the festival of Shavuot is celebrated.

As our focus is centered upon the Scriptures, it is traditional to read through Psalm 119, a few verses a day, during the Counting of the Omer. The psalm is divided according to the 23 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the AlephBet. The Word of God is made up of combinations of the individual letters and each one is considered holy. This is also an opportune time, therefore, to study some Hebrew!

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
Thou wilt make me full of gladness with Thy Presence.

As we count the days in anticipation of the revelation of God at His appointed time this coming Shavuot, let us also meditate on the direction of our lives and the influence we are having on those our Father has placed in our path. May we allow Him to reveal the “chaff” that is stubbornly clinging to our lives that we may repent of it and release it. As we walk and work with the Lord through this season, may the Spirit of holiness give us “clean hands and a pure heart” that we may ascend the mountain of the Lord at Shavuot and receive all He longs to share with us (Psalm 24:3-5).

~ Keren Hannah

APOLOGY!  Although scheduled for pre-Passover due to technical difficulties this post was not published. The Omer count began on the evening of 29th March this year, 2021. You can calculate from that date which day of the Omer we now are at. Even if you have missed the beginning there is still plenty of time to join in the count until the celebration of the 50th Jubilee day of Shavuot! 

If you would like to receive pdfs of meditations for each week of the Omer please send a request to my email address – kerenhgp10@gmail.com

Many blessings,

Keren Hannah

JUBILEE – 50 – Revelation and Restoration

JUBILEE in Hebrew is YOVEL (יובל).

In biblical times, the special shofar used by shepherds to call the sheep together before they returned home to their sheep-pen was called a yovel. It was made from a gazelle horn and, unlike the curved shofars used for ritual purposes, it is straighter and dark in color.

 A Dorcas gazelle, Israel – Wikipedia

The concept of ‘return’ blends well with a central commandment of God concerning a jubilee year. We see in the book of Leviticus:  

It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan” (25:10) “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.” (25:13)

The reason God gives as to why no one could make a permanent claim to the land of Israel is: “The Land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the Land is Mine.” (25:23) In a Jubilee year things are restored to their original, God-intended place!

In this generation, we celebrate the restoration of the Land of Israel and of her people to their God-intended place.  We also celebrate the Jubilee of the restoration of Jerusalem – the reunified City of God to its rightful place. In 1967, during the Six Day War, when Israel was attacked by the armies of the surrounding Arab nations, a brigade of the Israel Defense Forces broke through the Lion’s Gate of the Old City, which had been held by Jordan since the War of Independence in 1948.  Against impossible odds they were victorious and the city, including the holiest place for the Jewish people – the Temple Mount with the Western Wall, was restored to Israel’s sovereignty. 

Jerusalem is a place to which one returns – a place of connection and meeting. Here, in this city, heaven meets earth; the past and the present meet with the future. This Holy City of God is where we will meet our soon-coming Messiah; a day when this fleeting life will meet eternity. Then God’s purpose for the city, the one envisioned from before the very Beginning, will be fulfilled in radiance —the establishing forever of the eternal Dwelling Place of the Holy One of Israel.

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for lo I come and will dwell in the midst of you,” says the Lord.

(Zechariah 2:10)

The Lord’s Sanctuary will be established with powerful praise and unshakable strength in His city, which is the heart of the universe—the City of the Great King. There, His throne will be set and the light of Zion will shine forth to the nations, bearing the vision of eternity in the spirit of kindness and truth.

A new song will flow forth, a pure haunting melody carrying luminous words of redemption and hope; and this Holy Place will finally become a House of Prayer for all nations.  King Solomon knew God’s purpose for His Dwelling Place on earth and the vision of promise it contained. When he dedicated the first beautiful Temple in Jerusalem – built as designed by his father King David in accord with God’s specific instructions and plan, Solomon proclaimed:

“… that all the peoples of the earth may know Your Name and fear Thee,  as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this House which I have built is called by Thy Name”  (I Kings 8:41– 43).

Also, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah, the Great Shepherd’s yovel is sounding and he is gathering his flock from the nations and leading them home where they belong, to be one flock with the family of God.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast My covenant—
these I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer;
…for My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” (56:6-9)

May we soon all rejoice together in grateful praise, thanksgiving and joy in the City of the Great King – the eternal, golden, filled-with-His-glory, Jerusalem ~ YERUSHALAIM SHEL ZAHAV.

~ Keren Hannah Pryor

Artwork:

  1. Baruch Nachshon, Israel – www.nachshonart.com 
  2. Alex Levin, Jerusalem – https://artlevin.com

Daily Omer Thoughts – Seven Weekly Segments

10172603_10202153706790891_5907656854998900633_n

Join HIS-ISRAEL as we count the Omer – the significant days between Passover and Shavuot.

We trust, as we journey from Redemption to Revelation, that our Daily Omer Thoughts will give pause for meditation and help add inspiration during the 7 weeks.

Week One – Download Omer Thoughts Week One
Week Two
 – Download Omer Thoughts Week Two
Week Three – Download Omer Thoughts Week Three
Week Four – Download Omer Thoughts Week Four
Week Five – Download Omer Thoughts Week Five
Week Six – Download Omer Thoughts Week Six
Week Seven – Download Omer Thoughts Week Seven

 

Daily Omer Thoughts – Week Six

10172603_10202153706790891_5907656854998900633_n

Join HIS-ISRAEL as we count the Omer – the significant days between Passover and Shavuot.

We trust, as we journey from Redemption to Revelation, that our Daily Omer Thoughts will give pause for meditation and help add inspiration during the 7 weeks.

Week One – Download Omer Thoughts Week One
Week Two
 – Download Omer Thoughts Week Two
Week Three – Download Omer Thoughts Week Three
Week Four – Download Omer Thoughts Week Four
Week Five – Download The Omer Week Five
Week Six – Download The Omer Week Six

Daily Omer Thoughts – Week Five

10172603_10202153706790891_5907656854998900633_n

Join HIS-ISRAEL as we count the Omer – the significant days between Passover and Shavuot.

We trust, as we journey from Redemption to Revelation, that our Daily Omer Thoughts will give pause for meditation and help add inspiration during the 7 weeks.

Week One – Download Omer Thoughts Week One
Week Two
 – Download Omer Thoughts Week Two
Week Three – Download Omer Thoughts Week Three
Week Four – Download Omer Thoughts Week Four
Week Five – Download The Omer Week Five

 

Daily Omer Thoughts – Week Four

10172603_10202153706790891_5907656854998900633_n

Join HIS-ISRAEL as we count the Omer – the significant days between Passover and Shavuot.

We trust, as we journey from Redemption to Revelation, that our Daily Omer Thoughts will give pause for meditation and help add inspiration during the 7 weeks.

Week One – Download Omer Thoughts Week One
Week Two
 – Download Omer Thoughts Week Two
Week Three – Download Omer Thoughts Week Three
Week Four – Download Omer Thoughts Week Four

Daily Omer Thoughts – Week Three

10172603_10202153706790891_5907656854998900633_n

Join HIS-ISRAEL as we count the Omer – the significant days between Passover and Shavuot.

We trust, as we journey from Redemption to Revelation, that our Daily Omer Thoughts will give pause for meditation and help add inspiration during the 7 weeks.

Week One – Download Omer Thoughts Week One
Week Two
 – Download Omer Thoughts Week Two
Week Three – Download The Omer Week Three

Daily Omer Thoughts – Week Two

10172603_10202153706790891_5907656854998900633_n

Join HIS-ISRAEL as we count the Omer – the significant days between Passover and Shavuot.

We trust, as we journey from Redemption to Revelation, that our Daily Omer Thoughts will give pause for meditation and help add inspiration during the 7 weeks.

Week One – Download Omer Thoughts Week One
Week Two
 – Download Omer Thoughts Week Two

Daily Omer Thoughts – Week One

10172603_10202153706790891_5907656854998900633_n

Join HIS-ISRAEL as we count the Omer – the significant days between Passover and Shavuot.

Enjoy our Daily Omer Thoughts during the 7 weeks as we journey from Redemption to Revelation.

They will be shared in weekly installments.

Week One – Download Omer Thoughts Week One

CELEBRATING JERUSALEM DAY – Yom Yerushalaim

1509755_10153049397801941_4584036034712788615_n

CELEBRATING THE RESTORATION AND REUNIFICATION OF JERUSALEM 

Yom Yerushalaim  ~ 28 Iyar 5781  / 10th May 2021  ~ Jerusalem Day

 

Following is an excerpt from the historic JERUSALEM COVENANT, written to acknowledge the miraculous return of the Jewish people to all of Jerusalem in June 1967.

The original Jerusalem Covenant is displayed alongside Israel’s Declaration of Independence in the Knesset and for the past twenty years has been signed by hundreds of visiting dignitaries.

Once again, ‘our feet stand within your gates, O Jerusalem –
Jerusalem built as a city joined togethe
r’
which unites the people of Israel to one another
and links heavenly Jerusalem with earthly Jerusalem.

424494_355206024497206_100000234351216_1364675_472705548_n

Jerusalem – peace and tranquility shall reign in the city:

‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love you be tranquil. May there be peace within your walls, and tranquility within your palaces.’

Out of Jerusalem, a message of peace went forth and shall yet go forth again to all the inhabitants of the earth:
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.

In the future, The Holy One, the Blessed, will comfort Jerusalem only with Shalom.

From this place, we once again take this vow:

‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its strength; may my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not raise up Jerusalem at the very height of my rejoicing.’

1383695_655828567814861_905313415_n

 

And with all these understandings, we enter into this Covenant and write:

‘We shall bind you to us forever;
we shall bind you to us with faithfulness,
with righteousness and justice,
with steadfast love and compassion.’
 

We love you, O Jerusalem,
with eternal love, with unbounded love,
under siege and when liberated
from the yoke of oppressors.
We have been martyred for you;
we have yearned for you,
we have clung to you.
Our faithfulness to you we shall
bequeath
to our children after us.
Forevermore our home shall be within you.”

Amen and Amen.

IMG_1928

shorashimpic20002

246573_393482254028383_125342830842328_1067020_1844766378_n

1450278_672823566071574_1428699377_n

                           

    

YOM HA’SHOAH – A Memorial of the Holocaust

YOM HA’SHOAH – Holocaust Memorial Day,  2021
begins the evening of 7th through 8th April.

A SHOAH MEMORIAL by Keren Hannah

I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.”
(Isaiah 56:5)

Holocaust 5

Abba, Father
no more of me
is left to bring to Thee
only the gifts you have given
tallit and tefillin
the lamb and the prayer
remain and help me stand
in You.

Dehumanization
is a gradual process
a breaking down
a stripping away
first the outward trappings
then the inner layers
until all of self melts
into a final desperation
and all one has to offer Heaven
from the soul’s deepest depths
is a nameless
faceless cry.

~Keren Hannah

 A MEMORIAL AND A NAME

In 1953, six years after Israel’s rebirth from the Nazi’s flames of death, a special motion was passed in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) to establish Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial site on a hill in the Jerusalem Forest. Yad Vashem means ‘A Memorial and a Name’ and is taken from the Hebrew text, “I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial (yad) and a name (shem)” (Isaiah 56:5). These were the very things that Hitler’s regime aimed to wipe from the world’s consciousness – the memory and the name of the Jewish people. Individuals were tattooed with numbers and rendered faceless and nameless. Communities were uprooted and shattered. The ‘Final Solution’ was devised and implemented to exterminate the Jews as a people, to erase them from memory that they may no longer have a name.

Today, in a vibrant, restored land, Yad VaShem [1] stands as a beautiful and powerful witness to the memory of the six million Jews, more than one third of world Jewry, who were annihilated, and to the thousands of flourishing communities that were destroyed. It is a physical representation of the special flame of memory that is carried in our hearts. Our hope always is anchored in the God of Israel, who promises at the conclusion of the same verse in Isaiah, “I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.”

REMEMBER AND TELL

The need to remember has recently been underscored with the increase in active Holocaust denial. The exaggerated, blatant anti-Semitism and denial of the Holocaust that is rampant in Middle Eastern politics and press is maybe understandable, but it is all the more dangerous when found propagated by Israel’s enemies on Western University campuses and in purportedly academic literature. If this is being perpetrated one generation after the event, with eye-witness survivors still living, what can be expected in another twenty years? We cannot underestimate the value of recording indisputable evidence, and the retelling of the heart wrenching and heroic testimonies of those who were as “brands plucked from the fire” (Zechariah 3:2).

Holocaust 2

Institutions such as the Holocaust Museum in Washington and Yad VaShem in Jerusalem, preserve and display not only the historical, graphic evidence of the Shoah, but also the art, sculptures and memorial structures that depict the expressions of grief and capture the intrinsic human dignity found in the midst of the suffering. They are unique, urgent voices in the face of the world’s indifference and the traumatized silence of the majority of survivors. We need to see and remember, even though the evidence of the harsh realities of man’s inhumanity to man leaves one emotionally numbed and raises a multitude of inexpressible questions. As we remember we also need to tell, in order that the profound lessons may be learnt and that present dangers are not overlooked and the atrocities repeated. Never again…

Elie Wiesel, world renowned author and Holocaust survivor, wrote in his autobiography, And the Sea is Never Full, of a decision made in Auschwitz:

“I continue to learn – thus to take and give back – to reach out to others, to begin and begin again with every encounter…. Help me Father. Long ago, over there, far from the land of the living [in Auschwitz], we told ourselves that if we were to come out alive, we would devote every moment of our lives to denounce by word and deed the cynicism and silence of mankind towards victims past and future. …The one among us who survived would testify for all of us…His days and nights would be devoted to telling the story. …There were times after the liberation when I saw myself as a messenger carrying only one message: to say no to forgetting. …I continue to teach, to write.”

THE CHILDREN’S MEMORIAL

A special structure stands at Yad VaShem in honor of the almost one million Jewish children who were victims of the Nazi extermination camps. A group of stone pillars, broken off at varying heights, stands outside the Children’s Memorial. At the entrance is a carved portrait of one young boy, Uziel, whose parents agreed that he could represent all those whose names are lost to the world. Passing through the entrance, one enters a darkened maze of glass passages that reflect candle flames. The names of the murdered children that are known have been recorded and are played softly in the silent space.

Holocaust 3

Uziel – “God is my strength” – has a name and a face. Outlived by parents who, with deep and anguished love, have set his fearless smile as a remembrance of the million children whose lives were extinguished.

In the subdued, mirrored maze of their memorial one feels suspended in time and space names of the children are repeated in continuous succession their faces, their souls, are mirrored in the glow of a myriad candle flames reflected into infinity.

The art and poetry of many children, while herded in ghettoes en route to the concentration camps, were somehow saved and preserved, sometimes miraculously. Here is one poem, that of a boy whose name and thoughts live on.

The Butterfly

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
Against a white stone…

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high.
It went away I’m sure because it wished to
Kiss the world goodbye.

For seven weeks I’ve lived here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here.
The dandelion calls to me
And the white chestnut candle in the courts.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live here,
In the ghetto.

– Pavel Friedmann (4 June, 1942)

 In contrast, this is a poem written in recent years by a young 10th grader in restored Israel, who although free and living in a land that has bloomed like a rose in the desert and is now filled with flowers and butterflies, still asks:

Why?

One million, two, three
It is something you can’t see
I ask God why?
Why six million had to die?

Those who survived, I admire.
Did they march like sheep to the slaughter??
All these questions with no answers…
We will remember this forever!

I used to be afraid and worried
That this would come back
All this history…

Now I know that we can resist
We have a country and independence
I am proud to be a Jew
If I need to choose – I would

– Tal Bargig
10th Grade
Sha’ar HaNegev
Israel [2]

 So many questions… The faith of many Jews, even the devoutly religious, was deeply shaken and even lost. Where was God in this inhuman hell? However, these words found on the walls of a cellar where Jews hid from the Nazis in Cologne, Germany, echo the strong deep core of belief in the One God of Israel who, despite the evil perpetrated by man, is constant and faithful and suffers with us in affliction and triumphantly raises dry bones to new life.

I believe.
I believe in the sun,
Even when it is not shining.
I believe in love,
Even when feeling it not.
I believe in God,
Even when God is silent.

Holocaust 4

COMMEMORATING YOM HA’SHOAH

In April of 1951, the Israeli Knesset established the date of 27th Nissan to commemorate as “Holocaust and Ghetto Uprising Remembrance Day”. The date, 8th April this year, occurs during the period of Counting the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot and was selected because it falls between the dates of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began on the first day of Passover, and the two days (14th and 15th April this year), that commemorate the memory of those who fell in the wars against Israel and the nation’s establishment of Independence, Yom Ha’Zikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Independence Day). While we joyfully celebrate the freedom of the Jewish people restored to Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, we first remember the great sacrifice of the lives that were, and sadly continue to be, mercilessly taken by the enemy.

IN ISRAEL:

It is a deep and moving experience to commemorate Yom HaShoa in Israel. As the evening begins, the President of Israel leads a meaningful ceremony of song, prayer and testimony at Yad VaShem, which is attended by the Prime Minister, other dignitaries and a large gathering of guests. In front of the large stone Wall of Remembrance, six survivors of the Holocaust each lights a memorial flame.

The next morning, a siren sounds at a designated mid-morning hour in cities and towns countrywide. As its strident wail fills the air everything comes to a halt. Pedestrians stop in their tracks, traffic comes to a standstill and the occupants alight from their vehicles and stand upright and motionless. For two minutes all is still. Most heads are bowed in remembrance, lips move in prayer, tears fall. As the sound fades and dies, eyes are raised and one feels a deep bond of unity with all Israel in the knowledge that  Am Yisrael Chai. The People of Israel Lives! In spite of enduring the horrors of hell on earth –
Am Yisrael Chai!

IN THE HOME or CONGREGATION:

There are original ways of sensitively acknowledging and commemorating Yom HaShoah personally or as a congregation. Be encouraged to formulate something personal and meaningful in your own particular situation. A few examples:

Suggested Scriptures

Genesis 1:26-28, 31

...God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…” So God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God did God create them; male and female created God them. God blessed them..God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

Ezekiel 37:11-12

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel.’”

Suggested Blessings

Father, we lift to you those six million of the Holocaust and the myriad slain before and since, even unto this day; we pray for strength and courage to resist the evil that diminishes human beings everywhere because of our prejudice, hatred and fear.
Lord, in your mercy bring your healing and peace and may it begin with us.

We pray for the leaders of all the nations, that their remembrance of past evil and recognition of evil that is present may be so powerful that peace and justice may cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Lord, in your mercy, bring your healing and peace, and may it begin with us.

We thank You for those who glorify Your Name in simple, hidden, and faith-filled ways.
Lord, in your mercy, bring Your healing and peace and may it begin with us.

Holocaust 1

Sketch by Keren Hannah of statue at Yad VaShem
‘The Silent Cry’

The Kaddish: A Jewish prayer recited by mourners. 

Let the glory of G-d be extolled, and G-d’s great name be hallowed in the world whose creation G-d willed. May G-d rule in our own day, in our own lives, and in the life of all Israel, and let us say: Amen.

Let G-d’s great name be blessed for ever and ever.
Beyond all the praises, songs, and adorations that we can utter is the Holy One, the Blessed One, whom yet we glorify, honor, and exalt. And let us say: Amen.

For us and for all Israel, may the blessing of peace and the promise of life be fulfilled, and let us say: Amen.

May the One who causes peace to reign in the high heavens, let peace descend on us, on all Israel, and all the world, and let us say: Amen.

Footnotes:

1. Yad Vashem
2. With thanks to their English teacher, and my friend, Carol Wolff