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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
The syllables of your name light me like a chanukiyah I spill over, a brimming cup. It's more than I can say: more than all the prayers and songs, poems and letters posts and status updates than are made in... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
For a cascade of kittens making improbable leaps. For tiny feet ascending my shoulders. For their language of mews and rumbly purrs. For paws opening and closing. kneading invisible dough. For short pointy tails and radar-dish ears. For all of... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
I wrote a post for the About Bayit series on Builders Blog, about one of the facets of who we are, our spiritual differences and why they matter to us. Here's a taste: ...The organization’s founders have roots in, and... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Last night I made the mistake of checking Twitter before bed, and saw tweets from the president and from his lawyer blaming George Soros for ostensibly paying people to protest the Kavanaugh nomination. The tweets suggested that Soros is evil... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
" וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם אֶחָֽד / And there was evening, and there was morning: a first day." (Genesis 1:5) This poetic account of the beginnings of creation -- from the first verses of Bereshit, the opening of the Torah that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Next week I'm heading to Oberlin College for a whirlwind one-day visit that will include a lunch with Oberlin College Hillel, an afternoon psalm-writing workshop, and a poetry reading. All three of these are taking place on Tuesday, October 9.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
1. Such abundance! Sunlight streaming golden as chicken soup, rain that comes in its season, profusion of produce at the farmer's market, the way our hearts spill over when we see someone we love, the way Your heart flows to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
We’re all stardust, re-mixed chemical elements forged in some distant supernova. We’re all broken shards, fallen from the primordial shattering. We’re all reflected light, glimmering with the Source of Light. We’re all builders, making and re-making the world one brick... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I got a new sukkah this year. A simple white metal frame. Three canvas walls with windows in them. Cornstalks overhead, twined with autumnal garlands. In the mornings, when it is not raining, I sit here and watch the morning... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Backwards compatibility is a term we've borrowed from Reb Zalman z"l, who used the term (borrowed in turn from computers and software) to mean ensuring that when we innovate and when we renew Judaism into new forms, we also need to ensure that what we're doing is "compatible" with what came before.
1 reply
...It’s not only “do it yourself” (DIY) Judaism, but that there’s no other Judaism except DIY. The Jewish call is the call to do. “All” are called to “make” Shabbat (Ex. 31:16); same for tzitzit (Num. 15:38); same for a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
This post may be triggering for survivors of rape and sexual abuse. If that is you, please guard your boundaries carefully. So many of the women I know -- my friends, my loved ones, my congregants, my colleagues -- are... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
A few weeks ago, while the Al and Frances Small Memorial Labyrinth was still under construction, my eight year old son was with me at synagogue and ran outside to explore it. He immediately wanted to walk its spiraling path.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
This is not my beautiful sermon. (Do you know that Talking Heads song? "You may ask yourself, how did I get here? ... You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife." Well:... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
It was four in the morning on Shavuot in the year 5770, also known as 2010. I was on retreat at Isabella Freedman, a Jewish retreat center in northern Connecticut. My son was seven months old. My deepest regret, going... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
"Rabbi, is it ever okay not to forgive?" That question comes my way every year around this season. (I've written about this before.) I find that it is asked most often by women, who may face (as women, and as... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
וְעַתָּ֗ה כִּתְב֤וּ לָכֶם֙ אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את וְלַמְּדָ֥הּ אֶת־בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל שִׂימָ֣הּ בְּפִיהֶ֑ם Therefore, write down this poem and teach it to the people of Israel; put it in their mouths... (Deut. 31:19) וַיִּכְתֹּ֥ב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא וַֽיְלַמְּדָ֖הּ אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ That day,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Deep thanks to Bayit Builder Steve Silbert for his sketchnote of my Rosh Hashanah sermon, A Vision of Better. Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
A few folks asked whether there is a video or audio recording of my sermon from Rosh Hashanah morning. Here's video (and audio) -- taken from the synagogue's Facebook Live stream, so the quality isn't fantastic, but I'm happy to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
There's a meme going around the internet -- maybe you've seen it -- that says, "if you want to know what you would have done during the Civil Rights movement, you're doing it now." I'm too young to remember Black... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
In the produce section late peaches bump hips with early apples all of them blushing. Summer and fall kiss and then part, but one of these days summer's going to decide it's time to let fall spread its robe... Where... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thanks to the Berkshire Eagle for publishing my op-ed: Protect transgender rights and dignity. For those who can't get to the digital edition, I'm reprinting the op-ed here on my blog. NORTH ADAMS — On Election Day this November, voters... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
It’s an audacious idea – that a Jewish future needs to be built, or that we (or anyone) can claim the inner wisdom, the know-how, the tools, the chutzpah and even the right to do the building. But if you’re... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Late in this week's Torah portion, Ki Tavo, there's a set of blessings and curses. Torah promises us that if we follow the mitzvot and walk in God's ways we will be blessed with abundance, and if we turn away... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I've been really impressed recently with a new project called 929. Each weekday they share Torah insights and commentaries from scholars, clergy, artists, and more: Each day, from Sunday to Thursday, you will land here on a new chapter, with... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi