Celebrating Passover with some help from Twitter

The first day of Passover is next week, and Roxborough synagogue Mishkan Shalom, at 4101 Freeland Ave., is utilizing social media to enhance its practice.

By posting daily on Twitter, Rabbi Yael Levy will remind her congregants to practice “Counting the Omer,” an ancient practice of mindful meditation that spans the 49 days between Passover and the holiday of Shavuot.

“People love it because when you’re going about your day, it’s easy to forget,” said Levy. “This way you can get a reminder on your phone or computer.”

Levy says that “Counting the Omer” was originally an Israelite agricultural practice related to a harvest ritual. Later, it represented the Jews’ journey out of Egypt to Mount Sinai. Meditative qualities were added to represent spiritual preparation for the journey.

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Beginning Friday April 6, the first day of Passover, the synagogue will update their Twitter page and email list daily with reminders to focus on spiritual qualities that have been assigned to each day.

The first week’s practice will focus on love and compassion. “The focus is on the continual flow of love through the universe,” said Levy, “and how we can act on that love and bring it to the world.”

For the practice, Levy will pull from a spiritual guide that she wrote, “Journey through the Wilderness: A Mindfulness Approach to the Ancient Jewish Practice of Counting the Omer.” She says the guide includes teaching, intention and practice.

“People don’t even realize that there’s a 49-day mindfulness practice in Judaism,” said Levy, who wrote the guide after years of journeying through desert land. She hopes that more people will become aware of the practice, and says she already has readers across the U.S., in the Netherlands and in Israel.

The synagogue’s online community includes a Facebook page and a blog page entitled, “A Way In,” which focuses on Jewish teachings and traditions. Levy is enthusiastic about the way social media is bringing together her congregation. “It allows people to build and strengthen their connection with each other,” said Levy, “they realize they’re not the only ones practicing.”

The Mishkan Shalom “Counting the Omer” practice spans from April 7 to May 26. For more information, go to www.mishkan.org.

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