Beginning with the second night of Passover, Jews all over the world follow the Biblical practice known as Sefirat haOmer (Counting the Omer) which began this year at sundown on Sunday, March 28. Though this commandment is explicitly mandated in the Bible, it remains relatively unknown outside of the Orthodox Jewish world. So it was quite surprising when, on Monday night, a stewardess on a Jet Blue flight announced a reminder over the public address system to do so.
In the video, the stewardess correctly names the counting from the previous evening. This is customary so as not to inadvertently count the current night before saying the blessing.
Each night at sunset, a blessing is recited, followed by the actual counting. So, for example, on the first night, we recite the Hebrew blessing “Baruch Ata Hashem, Elokeinu Melech ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer” (Blessed are you, Hashem our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.)
After reciting the blessing, one identifies the count of the day of the Omer that just began. So on the first day, someone counting the Omer would say, “Hayom yom echad la’omer.” (Today is the first day of the Omer.)
This continues every single night for seven weeks, leading up to Shavuot, which is celebrated as the anniversary of the giving of the Torah. Thus, the counting of the Omer also connects Passover and Shavuot.
In the Bible, the command to count the Omer appears in the context of the grain harvest.