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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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Tonight at sundown, when we enter into Shabbat, we will also enter into a new lunar month. On the Jewish calendar, we're about to begin the month of Cheshvan. Cheshvan is an empty month. A blank slate. An open expanse.... Continue reading
Posted 4 hours ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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When I traveled to San Antonio over the summer I brought back a bag of old photographs, which I am slowly digitizing, a few at a time. Many of the photos are undated, so I have to guess at when... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Velveteen Rabbi
SECRET NAME No one knows the name I was given by the one who taught me Torah in my mother's womb. The tap on my philtrum hid it from me along with the mysteries of splendor the secret of mixing... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
I am not a knitter and am not particularly good with my hands, but found this not-at-all difficult to do. Let me know if you experiment with it and where it takes you!
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on String theory at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
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It's a good thing my rabbinic smicha wasn't contingent on my sewing skills. That was the thought which kept going through my head as I struggled with carefully snipping seams (without snipping fabric), placing careful stitches to keep the seams... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
"This Shabbat is Shabbat Bereshit," I say, "the Shabbat when we begin the cycle of Torah readings again with 'In the beginning...' -- or 'With beginnings...' -- or perhaps 'As God was beginning...'" I'm speaking aloud to those who've come... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you for reading, dear Kris, and for these kind words! I'm really glad that this speaks to you. I imagine that you encounter a lot of grief in your work -- parents and families who grieve in an anticipatory way, and grieve in realtime, and for that matter also medical staff and other child life specialists who are navigating grief -- so it means a lot to me that this feels wise to you.
Toggle Commented 7 days ago on Good grief at Velveteen Rabbi
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Dear Janice - I am so glad that this resonates with you. I would love to talk more with you about this, maybe next time we're in the same place at the same time (Colorado in January?) Thank you for reading. May you be comforted along with all who mourn.
Toggle Commented 7 days ago on Good grief at Velveteen Rabbi
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Thank you for reading, Lorianne. Always.
Toggle Commented 7 days ago on Good grief at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
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Today is Shemini Atzeret, 'The Pause of the Eighth Day.' Sukkot is a seven-day holiday. Today is day eight. Shemini Atzeret has various customs, including reciting the memorial prayers of Yizkor. And the tradition offers beautiful supplicatory prayers to recite... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Grief is a funny thing. A peculiar thing, I mean, not an entertaining one. It creeps in unexpectedly when everything seems fine, silent as Carl Sandburg's fog which "comes / on little cat feet." It does not listen to reason.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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All the world feels redolent with apples and honey at this time of year. I've taken our son apple-picking twice since Rosh Hashanah. We go to a local orchard, only a few minutes away from our house. I love the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Start with two-by-fours and bolts. Fashion a rectangle. Add crossbeams. Then attach four posts sticking up like the frame of an old-fashioned bed. You'll need another pair of hands to invert it, a wobbly table higher than you are tall.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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My maternal grandmother; her two daughters; three of their daughters, including me. Sometimes I wonder: what stories will our son tell about his growing-up, in years to come? How will he remember his childhood? What memories will he seize onto... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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On the festival's first night I carried a tray out to the sukkah bearing dinner, kiddush cups, wine and juice, a lighter for the candle I encased in a many-pointed glass star so that the wind wouldn't blow it out.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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There's a Jewish custom of inviting ushpizin, holy guests, into the sukkah each night. In the most traditional paradigm one invites seven (male) Biblical figures; in a more contemporary paradigm one invites Biblical figures of both genders. Each of the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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At this time of year I want to take photographs all the time. Everywhere I look, fall colors blaze. The hillsides are a slowly-shifting tweed of late-summer green, orange, yellow, rust, and bright flares of pure red. Every day the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Sometimes it's a little bit difficult for me to wind down after the holidays. There's so much to do in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The most important parts for me are liturgical (practicing parts of the service... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
The stars are shining on the top of my head, the wind is in my hair; a few drops of rain are falling into my soup, but the soup is still warm. I am sitting in a sukkah, a booth... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
I've been remiss in not mentioning this (though perhaps I can be forgiven for that, given the intensity of the High Holiday season), but The Poetry Storehouse is having its first anniversary and is celebrating that with a contest. The... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
The 20th-century American writer Dorothy Parker famously said, "Writing is the art of applying the tush to the seat." (She didn't say "tush," but the word she used isn't exactly appropriate to the bimah; you can extrapolate.) This is one... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Do you know what it's like to feel out-of-place? Have you ever walked into a room and felt uncomfortable? Or maybe you can remember, or imagine, standing with a cafeteria tray in your hands and realizing you have no idea... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Prayer Before Yom Kippur I now prepare to unify my whole self— heart mind consciousness body passions with this holy community with the Jewish people everywhere with all people everywhere with all life and being to commune with the Source... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
6. Sit down, master, on this rude chair of praises, and rule my nervous heart with your great decrees of freedom. Out of time you have taken me to do my daily task. Out of mist and dust you have... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
I experienced my first Jewish Renewal Yom Kippur at the old Elat Chayyim in Accord, New York ten years ago. One of the practices which moved me most was a practice of collaboratively writing our own Al Chet prayer. The... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi