Counting Up

Written by Aliza Kline, Founding Executive Director of Mayyim Hayyim

It’s hard to believe—but I am now beginning the last nine weeks of this extraordinary 10-month sabbatical in Israel. Pesach is vacation time for every Israeli family with school-age children. Each day of the holiday, all five of us (my husband Bradley, and our daughters Ela, Gila and Nomi and I) piled into the car for one adventure or another-Jerusalem’s zoo, a children’s theater festival in Haifa, hiking in the Negev, picnics in Nature Reserves….  It’s a happy time. The whole country seems to be in celebration mode with flags waving, free cultural programs in the cities and towns. The weather is ideal, warm but not yet oppressively hot.  It’s just right.

In the midst of this happiness comes preparing for our transition home to Boston in June. This year I am finding deeper meaning in the counting of the Omer (measure of wheat), marking time between Passover and Shavuot, between leaving Egypt and the giving of the Torah at Sinai. The idea is that we (Israelites) are eager to receive Torah so we count the days, counting up rather than down.  (Click for a helpful article on MyJewishLearning.com for more on the Omer.)

It’s an interesting idea to count up.  Rather than thinking about all that we have to do before a deadline we can focus on all that we get to do once we’ve reached that momentous day.  Counting also provides that helpful reminder to be mindful of each day, to be aware of time passing. To be “present” regardless of whether the day or hour or minute brings joy or sorrow.

This is my goal for the remainder of the Omer plus the remaining time before our return. I pledge to be as present as possible. To keep my eyes open, drinking in the surroundings, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting and engaging with Israel. I promise to immerse myself in these last precious weeks of an unforgettable year.

Will you join me in this pledge?

What tools will we need to keep this promise? What rituals will help us focus our energy and time? Meditation? Long walks? Deep breaths? Time away from our electronics? Shabbat? Mikveh?

I am certain that I will need all of the above – plus some. I am anticipating major life transitions, starting with my family’s departure from Israel, extending to my upcoming departure from Mayyim Hayyim – and from there into the unknown future for my career in New York.

Counting up is optimistic. Counting up implies growth and opportunity and welcomes in the unknown.

Bring it on. I am ready.

Aliza Kline, Founding Executive Director, has led Mayyim Hayyim from its initial stages, overseeing fund raising, publicity, design, construction, staffing, recruiting volunteers, and board development. In May, 2009, Aliza was awarded an AVI CHAI Fellowship (best described as the “Jewish MacArthur Genius Grant”) in recognition of her accomplishments, creativity and commitment to the Jewish people.

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About mayyimhayyim

Mayyim Hayyim is a 21st century creation, a mikveh rooted in ancient tradition, reinvented to serve the Jewish community of today
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8 Responses to Counting Up

  1. Roz Garber says:

    Lovely…..thoughtful …….I wish you all the best as you “count up” and look forward to seeing you in a few short weeks

    Warmly
    Roz

  2. Nina says:

    I can’t believe your time there is already coming to an end. In some imaginary world I thought I would visit you. I love your pledge and I join you! XOXOXO

  3. barbara kline says:

    Whew! Time sometimes drags and sometimes disappears with the speed of light. Seder and the following Shabbat seemed back-to-back to me this year. You’re right on about noticing the details, and as we have often said, “remember to breathe.” Got to work on that. You inspire me. Loving you,
    Mom

  4. Julie says:

    Aliza,
    Beautifully said. Amen to everything! We hope we will have a lot of time to savor with your family in the coming weeks before you leave. I am already missing you–but I guess that is not living in the present!
    Shavua Tov and see you very soon.
    Julie and crew

  5. Diane says:

    I love the positive nature of “counting up”. Thanks for sharing a very simple, but profound
    interpretation of our period of Counting the Omer. It seems to have application in so many arenas.
    Love to your wonderful family.
    Diane

  6. Gail says:

    “Counting up” is a lovely way of looking forward and yet being present, may we all count up and breathe in the daily beauty of our world. I wish you all the wonder and joy you can hold onto. How lucky your 3 little girls are to have you modeling such positive energy. Adventure on!

  7. Pingback: Counting Up | binyamin70

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