A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Omer

I usually don’t express my Karaite state of mind publicly, but I am generally worried about the survival of the movement and its philosophy. As you can imagine, we have a massive demographic disadvantage, and despite the fact that the internet is the great equalizer, we are structurally behind our Rabbanite kin in terms of infrastructure and resources. This worry of mine isn’t “new”. I’ve had these same worries since I was in my teens.

But a funny thing happened this past weekend.

First, some background. Our Rabbanite friends begin counting the 50 days to Shavuot on the night of the “second seder”. Karaites always start counting for Shavuot on the Sunday morning that falls out during Passover (or more properly, the Feast of Unleavened Bread). You can read more about this here and here.

Second, I was really nervous that with all the Coronavirus stuff, I would forget to announce that this past Sunday was the first day of counting the omer. And I started getting a bit more worried about the Karaite future. Because I was not sure who would be posting any resources to English audiences.

Back to our story. It all started a little more than a week ago, when Isaac Kight of Silver Trumpets asked me if the Karaite Omer App would be available this year. I told him that it would not because it costs too much money to update to the latest platforms and specifications. He then told me that he was able to find what he needed. (P.S. Isaac, I’ll start blogging more and creating more content, and I challenge you to do the same.)

I should have known from Isaac’s note that this year would be different. I had nothing to worry about.

Then my cousin Jason asked me whether I’d be willing to host a zoom haggada reading for the Karaite community. I had been nervous that many people would not be able to have a traditional Karaite haggada reading because of the pandemic and social distancing ordinances. And to be honest, I didn’t have it in me to set it up. So, mad props to Jason.

I should have known from Jason’s initiative that this year would be different. I had nothing to worry about.

But it didn’t occur to me that this year is indeed different until Saturday night when I saw a text message from my father –> this handsome man right here.

A group of Karaites praying at a memorial service for a departed loved one. Hazzan: My Dad

The text message said that Daliana from Puerto Rico who was married in our synagogue a few years ago shared on Facebook Rotem Cohen’s recording of the first day of counting the omer from the “UpFortheCount” project. That was pretty cool. Here is the recording.


By the time, I logged on to Facebook on Sunday morning to share the recording on the Karaite Jews of America’s page, the recording had already been shared multiple times in many facebook groups. And then I saw that Jono Vandor had shared the old UpForTheCount Link to his various groups. (Note to self: Update the dates on the link each year!)

How beautiful.

It also inspired me to do more. So, let me tell you what you can expect in the coming months:

  1. A second printing (slightly updated) of Royal Attire – the best selling book at The Karaite Press
  2. A second edition of The Abbreviated Blessing Book – with a brand new layout
  3. The Chief Cornerstone/Rosh Pinna – by the last of the Karaite Hakhamim in Egypt – Toviyya Babovitch
  4. More songs – like Yeter Peletat Am and Lahatany Mivhar Banay
  5. More Oud Lessons – like with Yah Zimrati
  6. And Yes – I hope – more blogging.

Thank you, Isaac and Dad and Daliana and Jono. And everyone else.

*   *   *

Here is the counting for today, the third day of the omer – recited by an Israeli Karaite (of Egyptian descent) living in San Diego.



Filed under Calendar, Counting of the Omer, Rotem Cohen, Shavuot

3 Responses to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Omer

  1. Keren DeTorno

    Looking forward to the upcoming updated versions of these texts and songs.
    Shawn, thank you for sponsoring the online Zoom Hagadah this year. And Thank you to ALL of the extended KJA Family all around the globe that joined us, together in our online reading and shared seder. It is shared opportunities like these that give us all hope that the Karaite traditions and beliefs will be available to those of us living now, and to those generations ahead that will become our Karaite future. We don’t have to live in Daly City. Thanks to you and all those that share the Karaite resource links and reference texts so that ALL of us, no matter where we reside, can have access to Karaite resources. I wish to also remind all Karaites, that the links to all those Karaite tribal brethren’s businesses are important to post, because their services are not just commodities, as their offered and provided services are uniquely blessings that are catered and available to broadening our Karaite beliefs, our practices, and to Karaite LIFE! Thank you to Karaite Press, Ancients Blue, Six Star Meat and Poultry, Rotem Kohen, Our KJI supporting and contributing brethren in Daly City and in Israel, but most gratitude to our visionaries, to YOU! Todah Rabah Shawn for ALL you do!

  2. Ana Lopes

    Shalom, Shawn!
    I’m very happy about the new things that are coming!
    And I would like to thank you about the zoom haggada reading. I’m so glad you did this! I was so happy just for seeing other people having their Seder!
    Thank you (and everyone else who was involved) for this amazing experience!

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