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Three reminders before Pesach

Counting the Omer with chocolates and paper flowers

My handmade (edible) Omer Counter.

Yesterday, my b'nei mitzvah prep class and I made Omer Counters. (Well: we tried to, anyway. Some of the kids took home great handfuls of chocolates and slips of tissue paper, promising to finish their counters at home -- I admit I am a bit dubious!) I got the idea from soferet Jen Taylor Friedman, who posted how to make your very own chocolate omer counter at Jewschool a couple of years ago. It's pretty simple: you tie chocolates into little tissue paper bundles, write numbers on them, and attach them to a long string. Voila: an Omer counter!

I've got a beautiful collection of Omer-counting books here on my desk: Rabbi Yael Levy's Journey Through the Wilderness: A Mindfulness Approach to the Ancient Jewish Practice of Counting the Omer, Shifrah Tobacman's Omer / Teshuvah: 49 Poetic Meditations for Counting the Omer or Turning Toward a New Year, Rabbi Jill Hammer's Omer Calendar of Biblical Women, Rabbi Min Kantrowitz's Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide, Rabbi Simon Jacobson's A Spiritual Guide to The Counting of the Omer.

And I've queued up 49 Omer teachings to go out via email and RSS on my congregational blog -- hopefully receiving one of those each evening in my inbox will remind me to count, if I haven't already done so! But I suspect the chocolate omer counter will help me remember, too; if every time I look at it, I remember that once I count I get a sweet, that might help spur me to keep the Omer in mind.

I also really like the way it looks, adorning this bookshelf in my office. There's something festive about all of the tissue-wrapped candies -- they remind me of tissue-paper flowers, which in turn, at this time of year, make me think of the tissue-topped cascarones and the tissue paper flowers of Fiesta, which falls during the Counting of the Omer each year in the city of San Antonio where I grew up. (I've written about the confluence of Fiesta and Pesach before -- five years ago, in the post Almost here.) It'll almost be a shame to take this apart as I count...