No One Counts to 50 Like Karaites

Up for the Count is off to a great start.

Up for the Count is off to a great start.

It’s that time of year that some people love and others have never heard of. That’s right; we’re counting the omer, a period of 50 days from the Sunday that occurs during Passover until the Sunday of Shavuot.

The Karaites and Rabbanites differ as to when to start counting the omer. You can read about that here. A young Israeli Karaite even made headlines when he refused to compete live on A Star is Born (the Israeli franchise of “American Idol”), because it coincided with the biblical/Karaite Shavuot.

But today, we’re just going to look at how Karaites count to 50.

The Karaite formulation for counting the omer has been around (in mostly the same form) since the middle ages. And the Karaite Jews of America is running its “Up For the Count” initiative to encourage people to count the omer according to the biblical timing, with the hopes of providing a resource for people who want to follow along.

In one place, the Torah tells us to count off the 7 weeks of the omer and in another place it tells us to count of 50 days. (See Deuteronomy 16:9; Leviticus 23:16.) So, the Karaite method is simple. The method first states the week of the count, then states the day of the count. For example, Day 3 of the count looks like this (in English):

  • Today is the 3rd day of the 1st week of seven weeks. Today is the 3rd day of the counting of fifty days from the [day of] waving of the Omer on the morrow after the Sabbath.

Below you can hear a Karaite woman count the Omer for today, the Third Day.

You will find higher resolution videos for each day of the first week of the omer at the KJA’s web-site.

The only difference between the method the KJA is promoting and the method that is used in Karaite synagogues is that in synagogues each line of the count is said first by the Hazzan and then repeated by the entire community. I hope the KJA (or another group) will upload a clip of that for people to hear that.


1 Comment

Filed under Counting of the Omer, Karaite Jews of America

One Response to No One Counts to 50 Like Karaites

  1. Alex

    Though Deuteronomy says to count “weeks”, but it’s not enough to fulfill the commandment. We need another verse from Torah. Leviticus 23 helps to understand how to count. Torah says to count 7 “Sabbaths” (not weeks), that means those aren’t days of the Christian Solar-calendar like rabbis explain us, but 7 Sabbaths according to the Lunar-month, that’s why those Sabbaths are named as “complete”. And up to after the seventh Sabbath we must count 50 days. I think, the order is to count, for example like “today is the second day to the second Sabbath the day 9 after Omer”. Shavuot 2016 was in May 16.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *