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Rachel Barenblat
Rachel Barenblat became a rabbi in January of 2011, and has been blogging as The Velveteen Rabbi since 2003.
Interests: Judaism, religion, ecumenism, poetry, motherhood, Christianity, Islam, liturgy, prayer, midrash, fandom.
Recent Activity
This is the sermon I offered this morning at Rensselaerville Presbyterian Church. You can read other sermons in their summer sermon series here. This year's theme is "And still we rise." In Hasidic tradition -- in the Jewish mystical-devotional tradition... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I've never been to the First Presbyterian Church in Rensselaerville, NY, but their all are welcome page makes me love them already. I'll be worshipping with them next Sunday, August 5, because I've been invited to preach. How does it... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Going through a box of old papers and photographs in my parents' garage, I unearthed an embroidered velvet bag. Inside it was a set of tefillin -- old and worn, with straps that are thin both in diameter and in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
The mitzvah of bikkur cholim, visiting the sick, is said to have originated with the Holy One of Blessing. When God visits Avraham by the oaks of Mamre in the heat of the day, that's understood to mean not just... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thanks for this comment, R' Goldie. I apologize for triggering you. The poem is not mine, it's Catherine Madsen's. Fourteen years ago when I wrote this post I was less conscious about issues of triggering or activating survivors; were I to post this now, I would have prefaced it with a content warning.
Toggle Commented Jul 24, 2018 on On Fathers and Kings at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Oh, Ilene, this is so neat to hear -- thank you for chiming in as someone who hosted a Fresh Air Fund kid!
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2018 on Fresh air at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
In 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, an independent not-for-profit organization, was created with one simple mission – to allow children living in low-income communities to enjoy free summer experiences in the country. [Source] Back when the Fresh Air Fund was... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Seven is a special number in Judaism. Seven are the days of the week (six days of creation + Shabbat). In many Jewish weddings, the partners circle each other seven times. We make seven stops when carrying a casket to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Bayit's summer learning week together begins with Shabbes. We come together from all of our various home places, put on our Shabbes whites, and daven, walking outside with a guitar to welcome the Shabbat bride into our midst. When we... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
...There’s something inherently funny about [a] talking donkey, but her voice hints at a deeper theme. “What did I ever do to you, that you should hit me with that stick,” said the beleaguered beast of burden. The Israelites might... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Sunday will be the 17th of the lunar month of Tamuz, the day when we enter the period known as the Three Weeks. I haven't had the spaciousness to write something new about the spiritual journey of this season this... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
This is the note I wrote to send to my synagogue community this week. I'm sharing it here in case it also speaks to those who are not part of my local community but are part of my broader online... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I keep trying to write something about the current state of affairs in my country and being too daunted to begin. My words fail me. What wisdom can I possibly offer about migrant children torn from their parents and held... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I could go outside and watch the sky change in the wintertime, but I rarely do. Sunset is early in winter, and the air is too cold for my comfort most of the time, and my mirpesset fills up with... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
One of the enduring mysteries of publishing, for me, is how different a manuscript feels once it's typeset and bound. This shouldn't be news to me. I've been privileged to work with several fine publishers, from Pecan Grove Press (who... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
...I blinked and the judge was wishing us well in whatever may unfold next for each of us. We walked out of the courtroom, and I was so dazed that I tried to put my purse back through the security... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
"Shabbat is different every week because we are different every week. Sometimes Shabbat shows up with dancing shoes, other times with a cup of cocoa and a bedtime story," writes Wilhemina Gottschalk in her introduction to The Sabbath Bee, her... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Our sages compare Shabbat to a garden. Shabbat is called both a foretaste of the world to come and a return to Eden, the primordial garden of abundance and bliss. What more perfect place to experience the sweetness of Shabbes... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I love sitting with my son on the mirpesset in the evenings. He doesn't have a ton of patience for just sitting and watching the sky change colors, but I can usually entice him out for at least a little... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
A week of Torah study lishma (for its own sake), hevreschaft (collegiality and deep friendship), dreaming about the Jewish future and how best to empower people to build that future together, visioning and strategic planning for Bayit: Your Jewish Home,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
In this week's Torah portion, B'ha'a'lot'kha, we read again about the cloud of divine presence that hovered over the mishkan, the portable sanctuary our spiritual ancestors built in the wilderness. The divine presence took the appearance of a cloud by... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Where we live, school won't end until late June, but the end is beginning to be in sight. My kid is starting to talk about becoming a "rising third grader," which boggles my mind. I'm finalizing plans for his day... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
In this week's Torah portion, Naso, God speaks to Moshe and tells him to transmit to Aharon the following words of blessing to give to the people: יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ / May God bless you and keep you. יָאֵ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
In going and in returning even when where you go isn't what you expected, even when where you return isn't yet a world redeemed. In sleeping and in waking. You are loved when you lie down and when you rise... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi