Counting the Omer- Feeding the Land, not the Landfill
This year, please join the Green Team, Member Connection committee and your Temple community in counting the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot. As we count, we will learn how we can connect to our Jewish traditions and care for the Earth by the simple act of composting. We will also learn a little bit about why Jews count the Omer (what is an Omer anyway?) and how this all fits with our Lag b’Omer celebration.
We began counting at the end of the 2nd night seder. Come back to this page at the end of the day each day until Shavuot to count with us virtually.
Links to each day’s Omer counting
Click on the link for the current date in the calendar below to go to that day’s page and count the day, say the Omer blessing and learn a little bit about composting from the members of the Green Team.
Be sure to mark your calendar and join your Temple community as our Member Connection committee resumes in-person holiday celebrations with a Lag b’Omer Picnic on May 19 at 6:30.
|April 18 |
|April 19 |
|April 20 |
|April 21 |
|April 22 |
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|April 25 |
|April 26 |
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|April 29 |
|April 30 |
|May 1 |
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|May 19 |
Hyperlinks are videos, documents and websites of interest.
Week 1 – Composting as an Expression of Our Jewish Values
- Jews value preservation and repair of the natural world (tikkun olam), and composting enables us to better achieve this goal.
- Video: Seeking God in Composting
- Humans take a lot of nutrients out of soils to feed their families, so composting is one way humans can give something back.
- Home composting is a great opportunity to teach your children about recycling and about the natural cycle of life. It’s fun. By composting, we can teach children to respect and value their environment.
- When you compost, it feels like you are feeding the earth. You are doing your part to help the planet.
- Composting is a way to practice the Jewish value of Tza-ar ba-a-lei cha-yim (kindness to animals).
- Noah was a composte
- Bim Bam Video: Counting the Omer: The Basics of the Jewish Ritual
Week 2 – Composting 101
- Composting is nature’s way of recycling.
- Anything that grows from the Earth can be composted.
- Wake up each morning with a cup of coffee and an egg. Feed the coffee grounds and the egg shells to your compost pile
- Video: Composting 101 — Making Compost in Composting Bins and Compost Piles
Week 3 – Composting with TBI’s Green Team
- Video: Robin’s Easy Composting Routine
- Video: TBI’s New Compost Bin.
- Chart: Composting Basics
- Video: Cary’s High Tech Composter for an Apartment Kitchen
- Video: Steve’s Compost feeds the Chickens and the Soil
- Some words from Cary (and a video) on Worm Composting
Weeks 4 & 6 – The Science of Composting
- The kitchen scraps in your compost pile are digested by millions of tiny bacteria and fungi that already are already present in your backyard
- Composting helps our environment by reducing the volume of garbage, landfill, and methane gas.
- The decomposers that live in a compost pile—worms, insects, bacteria, and other microbes—are nature’s recyclers. They break down dead plants and animals, turning them into nutrients that can be added to soil.
- In a forest, decomposers break down leaves and branches that fall to the ground. In a compost pile, decomposers break down food and garden waste.
- Decomposers in a compost pile need air, water, and food (just like you!) Regularly turning a compost pile ensures that decomposers get the air they need. Rain provides water. You provide food by adding food scraps and garden waste.
- Composting helps reduce climate change! When food scraps go to a landfill, they decompose without oxygen and release methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide.
- According to the EPA, food is the single largest category of materials placed in municipal landfills. Landfills are the third largest source of human-generate methane emissions in the United States.
- In the United States, 30-40 percent of the food supply ends up as food waste. By not wasting food, you save money and reduce harm to our air, land, and water. And when you recycle food scraps in a compost pile, you turn waste into something useful.
- Compost can reach 75 degrees in just a few days. That’s not necessarily a good thing though – heaps which are too hot can produce ash instead of soil, and can destroy beneficial bacteria. Unfortunately, there’s very little agreement on what is the ideal temperature for compost
- Compost heaps can spontaneously combust – don’t put your compost pile too close to the house! Compost heaps can catch fire if they get too hot! Fortunately, it’s rare, and usually only happens to very large, dry compost heaps. Still, if you have a hot summer, it’s definitely worth checking your compost heap, and damping it down or turning it if it’s too hot.
- The worms in your compost heap can eliminate e-coli (and other diseases) Composting is an amazing process that destroys pathogens in both the hot and cold parts of the composting process. Worms play their part. Not only can they eat their own body weight in a day, producing highly beneficial worm castings in the process, they can also eliminate harmful bacteria such as e-coli.
- Compostable products become humus, not hummus! Note the difference between humus and hummus! While the latter is a delicious dip originating from the Middle East, the former is a humus is a dark organic matter that comes from dead plants, essentially. Humus is filled with nutrients, especially nitrogen, which makes it beneficial for the soils’ health.
- Composting doesn’t smell rotten! And while composting is technically rotten organic matter, it is not quite. If there are too many greens (like vegetable shavings, green leaves, etc) in comparison to browns (tree branches, dry leaves, some kinds of paper, etc) then there will be an imbalance in moisture and the composting bin might start to smell. Otherwise, it does not.
- Composting does not release harmful gas. The primary gas released from decomposing organic matter is methane. However, in composting, the main gas released is carbon dioxide. And while carbon emissions are extremely harmful for the atmosphere and planet, the carbon dioxide that comes from composting is not considered to have an effect on global warming, because when it is produced like this, the carbon dioxide integrates the so-called short-term carbon cycle – which is basically a carbon recycling that happens naturally on Earth and from which we benefit.
Week 6 – Composting our Way Through the Holidays
- We celebrated Lag b’Omer on May 19. Lag means “33”, b’ means “of”. Lag b’Omer means 33rd day of Counting the Omer. We used compostable plates and cutlery and put that and our food waste into the temple’s new compost bin as we said the Shehechyanu together.
- Eat apples and honey and put your apple peels into the compost for a sweet and sustainable new year.
- Let your Halloween pumpkin decompose into a scary mess in your compost bin.
- At chanukah, feed your family with latkes and feed your compost with potato peels and onion skins.
- Join us at the temple for a Lag b’Omer picnic. We will put our food waste into the temple’s new compost bin and say the Shehechyanu together.
- Chop apples for your charoset and pop the apple cores into your compost! Sweetens your matzah and your soil. After Passover, grow the horseradish root from your Seder plate and next year put the horseradish leaves into the compost.
- Throw those Mother’s Day flowers in the compost when they are done to show how much you love Mother Earth
Week 7 – Composting in Kalamazoo and Beyond
- The Bike Farm is a bicycle-powered micro farm in the City of Kalamazoo, offering compost pick-up and drop-off.
- At Bell’s Brewery, Since 2017, all disposable service items including plates, utensils and straws at their Eccentric Café are compostable, with the exception of plastic cups which are recycled.
- Bee Joyful Shop at 243 S. Kalamazoo Mall accepts compost. All you have to do is bring it in. They only accept fruit and vegetable scraps right now.
- Organicycle offers Curbside Composting for Home and Business in Grand Rapids and West Michigan.
- Some cities like Ottawa, Canada have a “green bin” for food waste that gets picked up weekly, separately from your trash and recycling.
- Consider buying compostable cutlery and dishes for your life cycle events, simchas and parties. Take care when purchasing to make sure the items you purchase are compostable in the home compost bin. Some are only compostable commercially.
- As we reach the end of our Omer counting, we would like to encourage you to consider natural burial as a very personal way to feed the land. Perhaps this is the most meaningful composting you could ever do. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or see the Cemetery report from the Annual Meeting below for more information.