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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
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In this week's Torah portion, Moshe and Joshua and 70 elders have a mystical experience together. They ascend the mountain and behold a vision of God, under Whose feet there is the likeness of a pavement of sapphire, as pure... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
This week's Torah portion, Mishpatim, contains one of my favorite verses: כְּמַעֲשֵׂה לִבְנַת הַסַּפִּיר וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם לָטֹהַר. I love the verse (it's the second half of Exodus 24:10) because it's one which Nava Tehila has set to music. Had they... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
"Listen up, y'all," says Shekhinah who looks today like a teacher in corduroy dress and sedate boots. "Let the smartphone rest a bit, or learn how to hear My voice coming through its speaker. Let your love for Me well... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I'm heading south today for the annual gathering of Rabbis Without Borders fellows at Pearlstone, a Jewish retreat center outside of Baltimore. This will be my third annual retreat. It's always fun to reconnect with this group of colleagues in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
"Listen up, y'all," says Shekhinah who looks today like a teacher in corduroy dress and sedate boots. "Let the smartphone rest a bit, or learn how to hear My voice coming through its speaker. Let your love for Me well... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This winter, ALEPH is launching a new adult education program called Tikshoret: Contemporary Connections in Jewish Learning. (The name tikshoret comes from the Hebrew root which means connection -- the idea is that these classes will connect participants with our... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Tablet magazine ran an article last week about Jewish Renewal. I'm honored to be quoted in that article along with several other people whose voices and perspectives I respect. Some of the material from our interview about which I was... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Maybe you've noticed the full moon recently. (Where I live, it's been shining brilliantly the last few nights on a light layer of snow.) The full moon of this month is the holiday of Tu BiShvat, the New Year of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
The devoted ones of old would spend a whole hour preparing to meet the Beloved (a timeless time in union rocking back and forth crooning words of love) then an hour savoring the encounter now over, slowly letting afterglow fade.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
Late January can be a difficult time. It's cold outside: this morning my car's thermometer registered seven degrees. The world is mostly monochrome: white snow, brown and grey tree trunks, sky which is often clouded in shades of pearl and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This is the d'var Torah I offered yesterday at my shul. In this week's Torah portion, we read the instructions which came before the Exodus from Egypt. Slaughter a lamb, the people are told, and mark the doorposts of your... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
I've been away from home for a week, in the Brigadoon of ALEPH-land. First there was an ALEPH board meeting; then a glorious Shabbaton (Shabbat weekend retreat); then the smicha (ordination) of new clergy; then the OHALAH conference of Jewish... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Cross-posted from Kol ALEPH, the blog of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. This year we (at ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal) rededicate ourselves to caring for our living planet as a place of holiness. Tu BiShvat, the New Year of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
On January 10, 2016, ALEPH ordains nine new Jewish clergy – five rabbis, two cantors, and two rabbinic pastors – after having welcomed 24 new students, the largest incoming class in ALEPH history. This poetic charge is dedicated to our... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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About a year ago, I had an audacious thought. I frequently aim to write daily poems during April, National Poetry Month in the United States. Over the last few years I've written daily poems during Elul (some of which are... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I offered an extemporaneous d'var Torah at services yesterday. This is what I said, more or less. (Deep thanks to my hevruta partner, with whom I shared these thoughts afterwards, and who offered the insight about being unsteady on one's... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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My latest essay is up at The Wisdom Daily. Writing this essay was really meaningful for me; I hope that reading it is equally so for you. Here's how it begins -- with a story from the beginning of my... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2015 at Velveteen Rabbi
When I was admitted as a rabbinic student at ALEPH, the very first thing that happened was a phone call from ALEPH's head of hashpa'ah / spiritual direction. She interviewed me in order to discern who might be a good... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2015 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Jewish Women's Theatre, a Jewish women's theatre collective in California, is putting together a show called "Temptation," which will be a compilation of stories, poems, songs, and short plays, performed by professional actors to an audience of theatre subscribers in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2015 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The Exodus from Egypt begins with the deeply-felt cry of the heart. That's what strikes me as I reread this week's Torah portion, Shemot. Torah teaches that the children of Israel, suffering harsh treatment, cried out."They sighed from their bondage,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2015 at Velveteen Rabbi
2015: Edited to add - here is ALEPH's formal statement on the resurgence of Marc Gafni. Once upon a time there was a restaurant where we loved to eat. The proprietor/chef was a big, burly fellow with a brilliant smile... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2015 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In rabbinic school I learned to love the daily liturgy. I love all kinds of variations on that liturgy, and I also love the phrases and images of the liturgy as we've received it. One of the neat things about... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2015 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you, Peter -- you are kind.
Toggle Commented Dec 17, 2015 on The one who sees me at Velveteen Rabbi
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You are the one who sees me. Please see me in soft focus. This mirror shows only what's shameful, worthy of scorn: every flaw magnified and stripped of holiness. As imperfect as I am, how can I find favor in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2015 at Velveteen Rabbi
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At this time of year, every nonprofit organization I know of is hoping for end-of-year donations. A lot of people do their charitable giving during December so that they can get a tax write-off for the (secular) year now ending.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2015 at Velveteen Rabbi