Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

Counting the Omer- Week 5

Counting the Omer
for Spiritual Development
and Racial and Social Justice

Week 5
Hod: simplicity, glory, splendor, sincerity, surrender
April 25 – May 2

In memory of George Floyd, and way too many others

Day 29: Sunday Night, April 25, and Monday April 26
Chesed she’b’Hod – Lovingkindness in Sincerity and Splendor

Watch: The Resistance Revival Chorus sing “This Joy”
“This Joy” by the Resistance Revival Chorus – YouTube
Action Call someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile and let them know you’re thinking about them.  If you’ve both been vaccinated, consider getting together in person.

 

Day 30: Monday Night, April 26, and Tuesday, April 27
G’vurah she b’Hod — Strength in Sincerity and Splendor

Read: Excerpt from Rose Schneiderman’s Speech on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire — April 2, 1911:

“I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting. The old Inquisition had its rack and its thumbscrews and its instruments of torture with iron teeth. We know what these things are today; the iron teeth are our necessities, the thumbscrews are the high powered and swift machinery close to which we must work, and the rack is here in the firetrap structures that will destroy us the minute they catch on fire.

This is not the first time girls have been burned alive in the city. Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers. Every year thousands of us are maimed. The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred. There are so many of us for one job it matters little if 146 of us are burned to death.

We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable, the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.

Public officials have only words of warning to us—warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back, when we rise, into the conditions that make life unbearable.

I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement.”

Read: Learn about Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old who recorded George Floyd’s murder.

Event: Attend Zoom Event on Tuesday, April 27th at 3 p.m. ET:

Film Screening + Conversation with Joan Trumpauer Mulholland | UVA Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Day 31: Tuesday Night, April 27 and Wednesday, April 28
Tiferet she’b’Hod — Beauty and Compassion in Sincerity and Splendor

Read:  “A Small Needful Fact,” by Ross Gay

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

Action:  Look at the plants around you and think about who planted them.  Plant something, either in a pot or the ground. 

 

Day 32: Wednesday Night, April 28, and Thursday, April 29
Netzach she’b’Hod — Endurance and Perseverance in Sincerity and Splendor

Listen: the Congressional Chorus and NESS sing Ella’s Song, by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock, based on a quote from Ella Baker.

Congressional Chorus & NESS – Ella’s Song – YouTube

 

Reflect:

What does it mean to you to say
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons

Action: Sit in silence for 9 minutes 29 seconds.

 

Day 33: Thursday Night, April 29, and Friday, April 30
Hod she’b’Hod: Sincerity and Splendor in Sincerity and Splendor

Listen: “The Hill We Climb,” by Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ055ilIiN4

And/or Read:

“The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Action: Educate yourself about the origins of the myth of black criminality by watching the documentary “Thirteenth”

https://www.y13TH | FULL FEATURE | Netflixoutube.com/watch?v=krfcq5pF8u8

 

Day 34: Friday Night, April 30, and Saturday, May 1
Yesod she’b’Chesed
Foundation-Building and Wholehearted Commitment in Sincerity and Splendor

Read:

“Let America Be America Again,” by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again

Action: Consider making financial contributions to groups that are fighting for racial and economic justice.

Some Jewish groups:

Other groups:

 

Day 35: Saturday Night, May 1, and Sunday, May 2
Malchut she’b’Hod: Majesty and Humility in Sincerity and Splendor

Read: Mariame Kaba’s essay “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police”
Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police

Actions:
Sign up for and attend anti-harassment training
Get Trained | Hollaback! Together We Have the Power to End Harassment

Study the flowchart for Alternatives to Calling the Police:
bit.ly/safetybeyondpolice
Think about what choices we can make — as individuals, as a congregation and as a society to reduce our dependence on police to keep us safe.

Contact Kol Ami

P.O. Box 1801, Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: 571-336-5544
Rabbi's Study: 202-364-3006

Where We Meet

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington Blvd. (Route 50) & George Mason Dr.
Arlington, VA 22204
View Map & Directions

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up for a monthly newsletter about upcoming Kol Ami events and programs. Subscribe.