Many methods abound as reminders to count the omer – special calendars, charts, and internet alerts, among them. Have you ever wondered about the number board above the reference desk on the fifth floor of the Mendel Gottesman Library? The library was built with a pneumatic tube system. Patrons were to submit requests for books and be given a number. The requests would then zip through the building in the tubes, and a lit number would alert users when the books they requested had been retrieved from closed stacks and were available at the desk.
The system was creatively repurposed and it now houses the library’s internet wiring. Someone noticed that the numbers on the board go from 1 to 50 and started to light them to count the 49 days of the omer, and thus a new custom was born. The mundane, utilitarian, call board was transformed into a ritual object, the Gottesman Library’s sefirah calendar.
Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger