Friday, April 5, 2013

A Very "Jewish Moment" at Work

As regular readers know, I work in a store, a clothing store, Yafiz, which is part of the Rami Levy business, in Sha'ar Binyamin.

Usually I write about how there is amazing cooperation between the Jews and Arabs who work and shop together in Yafiz and Rami Levy.  It's still true.  I must admit that when I'm  in the shvung*  of work I barely pay attention to whether I'm serving Jews or Arabs.  A customer is a customer, and as long as they are polite, cooperative, buying and paying, it really doesn't matter to me.  I sell in Hebrew, English, pantomime and the few words I remember from my high school Spanish.

Last night at work, just as I was walking a customer to the cashier, my phone made alarm sounds.  I quickly took it to turn it off and said to my Jewish customer:
"S'fira reminder."
She happily thanked me and began the blessing of Counting the Omer.
According to the Torah (Lev. 23:15), we are obligated to count the days from Passover to Shavu'ot. This period is known as the Counting of the Omer. An omer is a unit of measure. On the second day of Passover, in the days of the Temple, an omer of barley was cut down and brought to the Temple as an offering. This grain offering was referred to as the Omer.
Every night, from the second night of Passover to the night before Shavu'ot, we recite a blessing and state the count of the omer in both weeks and days. So on the 16th day, you would say "Today is sixteen days, which is two weeks and two days of the Omer."
I have found that one of the easiest ways to remember to Count the Omer is to have my cellphone remind me.  I do have some email reminders, but I'm not always on the computer and certainly not when at work. In addition, my cell phone is a simple "dumb phone" which isn't set up for internet and emails.

I can usually hear the coo coo clock alarm sound which it makes for appointment reminders. Then I must just try to remember which number we're up to in the count.  As  soon as she had finished I asked her which number.
"I may be wrong, but I think it's ten."
"I also think it's ten, so there's a good chance that you're right, thanks."
And then I too counted.

It's funny in a way.  It's like we were speaking in "codes" that not everyone would understand.  In Israel, not even all Jews are aware of S'firat Ha'Omer, Counting the Omer.  Outside of Israel, it's certainly even more rare even in the Jewish community. It was nice to have a mini-public counting in the store.  

Too bad they don't announce the Omer Counting on the loudspeaker from the Rami Levy supermarket, the way they announce a minyan for Mincha or Arvit, afternoon or evening prayers.  They also have public lighting of the Chanukiyah, Chanukah menorah.  Public Omer Counting would be very helpful for busy people, especially women and children who generally don't doven with a minyon even if they do doven at night.

So, I'm especially glad that my little "homemade Omer alarm" helped more than just me.

*What does "in the shvung/shvoong" mean?
The word “Shvoong” is originally German. It is written “Schwung” and it means momentum. The Jewish people has adopted this word to their Yiddish vocabulary and used it when they wanted to describe something that is done quickly.


Yocheved Golani said...

What an appealing post! BTW, I'm trimming down from too much Pesakh food by adding to my push-ups with each sefira count. So far I'm a bit ahead of the actual count. I'm holding at 25... I have no idea if I'll pump 49 though. See

Batya said...

Yocheved, I can't do pushups at work, so give an extra for me, thanks

goyisherebbe said...

So do them when you get home. Great post.

Batya said...

goyish, when I get home late, I don't usually go on the computer. That means that I won't be reminded until the next morning.