News Highlights A Message for the Omer

By Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld looking out a window

A message from Hebrew College President Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld in response to the horrific shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX.


Today is the 40th day of the Omer. What is this daily practice of blessing and counting our days meant to awaken in us?
What is it meant to do to us?

Every year, it does something different to me.
Today, my heart is pounding as I think about the haunting reality that, this year,
we are not only counting days, we are counting bodies.

First, 10 black and brown bodied people gunned down in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Now 2 teachers and 19 children gunned down in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

God help us.

The heart-breaking violence of these past several days —
and the less visible but unrelenting daily gun violence on our streets —
should stop us in our tracks.

There is nothing normal about this.
We dare not habituate ourselves to such horror.

It should stop us in our tracks.
But we know — we know — that can’t be the last word, or the last step.

This Mother’s Day, several of us walked together in support of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute of Boston,
an organization founded and led by Chaplain Tina Chéry who lost her own son to gun violence twenty-nine years ago.
An organization propelled forward by women who were stopped in their tracks,
And then kept going, kept walking.
And they are walking still — for peace, for human dignity, with lovingkindness, for life.

I am in awe of their courage and compassion. I am chastened by it — and called up a notch.

For me, the Omer this year has become a continuation of that Mother’s Day walk.
We are on this journey together
And it is up to us
To keep walking
To find a way out of this hard and narrow place and into the wilderness of possibility
To stand before the trembling mountain
And let our hearts soften and open
To God and to each other.

Please, give us strength.


If you are interested in getting involved with the Gun Violence Prevention Group at Hebrew College, please contact sarah.pollack@hebrewcollege.edu.

recommended posts

Jewish learning Bringing Jewish Mysticism to Wider Audiences: Embodied Kabbalah—Jewish Mysticism for All People

Jewish learning Daring to Dream

News Highlights Syncopation Covered in Local Press, Closes on November 30