Thousands of years ago, Israelite people would bring a measure of their spring barley harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem in the spring as an offering of gratitude for a successful harvest. After that, they would count forty-nine days to the next harvest, the wheat, which was essential to survival over the following months. This practice was then codified and described in the Bible.
Since those ancient times, Jewish evening prayers throughout the world follow a set pattern, adding two sentences for seven weeks each spring, starting on the evening of the second Passover Seder and continuing for the next forty-nine days. This is the “Counting of the Omer,” and with the guidance of Rabbi Min Kantrowitz this counting is full of spiritual insight.
Ordained in 2004, Rabbi Min Kantrowitz is the Director of Shutafim: New Mexico Jewish Community Connections, a new program of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. Shutafim (a Hebrew word meaning “Associates”) is designed to assist small, isolated Jewish communities across the state through a strategy of empowerment and support. Lay leaders from selected affiliated communities receive training, teaching, consultation, visits and other resources to reinforce their small Jewish communities and to help them flourish. She also has an active private teaching and spiritual support practice.
Previously, she served as Director of the Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program of the Jewish Family Service of New Mexico for more than eight years before the closure of the agency. The program provided spiritual support and pastoral care services to thousands of unaffiliated Jews.
She is the author of Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide, which provides readers with a path through the 49 days of Counting the Omer, and includes meditations, exercises, kavvanot and activities for each of the days, according to the traditional pairings of the Sephirot.
Rabbi Kantrowitz received a prestigious Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship in 2012-2013. In 2006 she received the Jewish Federation of New Mexico’s “Woman of Valor” award in recognition of her “extraordinary efforts in sustaining and nurturing Jewish community life”.