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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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This coming weekend I'll be in New York city for two very different and very special Shabbat experiences. The first is Shabbat By the Sea with Temple Beth-El of City Island. You can read about it in the TBE newsletter.... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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I spent Shabbat in an increasing state of horror about the white supremacist march in Charlottesville. Chants of "blood and soil," "white lives matter," and "Jew will not replace us;" white men carrying torches or wielding swastika-emblazoned flags; the death... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I was working a few days ago with a friend's daughter who's becoming bat mitzvah in a few weeks. I found myself remembering a moment shortly after my own celebration of bat mitzvah. Faced with the prospect of writing a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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There are seven weeks between Tisha b'Av and Rosh Hashanah. Forty-nine days between the spiritual low point of our year, and the newest of new beginnings. Reb Zalman z"l taught that these 49 days parallel the 49 days of the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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It's Shabbat Shachor, the "Black Shabbat" that falls right before Tisha b'Av. Today our experience of the sweetness of Shabbat is tempered by awareness of what's broken, from our own ancient stories of destruction and becoming refugees to what we... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Somewhere in my first year or two of parenthood, it dawned on me -- through the haze of fatigue, laundry, diapers, and tantrums (Yonatan's and mine both) -- that I actually had access to a treasure trove of wisdom that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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To be fully alive and fully human, we need space, or room to breathe. This need is fundamental: it is rooted in our everyday experience. We all know what it is like to feel crowded, pressed, or overwhelmed. We know... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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One day recently, two friends from completely different quadrants of my life sent me a gorgeous Rilke poem that Father Richard Rohr had posted on his website. I had run across the poem myself a few months before, and had... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
...The Jewish calendar gives us these Three Weeks as a time for feeling the brokenness that characterizes every heart and every life. These weeks offer an invitation, and an opportunity to feel what hurts. Not because we’re going to stay... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The Jewish calendar is filled with moadim. Usually that word is translated as "festivals," though it literally means "appointed times." Each year we have moadim of closeness to God, and also moadim of distance from God. The Days of Awe... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you, Charles. At this time, the statement that David and I issued to the Forward is all that I feel able to publicly say.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2017 on Renewing Judaism at Velveteen Rabbi
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When I come down to breakfast, I find two friends at the table enjoying coffee. It takes approximately five minutes for us to wind up in a halakhic conversation. It's about the psycho-spiritual, halakhic, and pastoral implications of seeking to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Renewing Judaism happens everywhere. That's one of the things that was affirmed for David and me during the Listening Tour: the renewing of Judaism is, and always has been, bigger than any organization. And that's exactly how it should be.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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A few days ago I mentioned spiritual bypassing in my commentary on a short Hasidic text. A few of you reached out to me after that post went out, asking for more about spiritual bypassing: what it it, how can... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you for this, R' Jeff. Yes -- we are called to be "response-able," in the words of Reb Zalman z"l, and to integrate qualities in healthy balance, both on an individual level and on a communal level.
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Absolutely. That's part of what I think KL is trying to say: what's necessary is the appropriate balance between the qualities, not leaning unilaterally toward any quality, no matter how positive that quality may seem. In my own lived experience, I've encountered the dangers of a context where people privilege chesed and ignore gevurah. I haven't experienced the opposite, but I agree with you that that too would be a negative thing, and I think the KL would agree.
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Earlier this week, David and I studied a fabulous text from the Hasidic rabbi known as the Kedushat Levi (R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev), to whom I was first introduced by R' Elliot Ginsburg, my teacher of Hasidut in rabbinical... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
"Not all women, trees, or ovens are identical." -- Mishna Pesachim 3:4, in the name of R' Akiva Some women like winter. Some incubate babies and some have no uterus. Some wear eyeliner. Some are happiest in Israeli sandals flaunting... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Dear One, you love me so much you give me your Torah for argument and play waltzing and conversation from one life to the next. Your Torah nourishes me, familiar as the womb. Wrap me tight in your Torah like... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Beloved, You are good and you wield goodness in shaping creation and every single day in Your goodness and with Your goodness You make us new with all created things. You make me new. I cling to yesterday (who would... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
1. The CSA's first distribution week: the flower gardent nascent, not yet formed. The fields are all potential. No one knows what plagues or pleasures yet will come to pass. Who can say which plants will thrive this year? This... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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When I wrap the straps around my arm Shekhinah holds my hand. Her small brown fingers intertwine with mine. She holds on tight. She whispers courage in my ear. Says "don't hold up: be held." Kisses my forehead, a mother... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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All through the long winter, I wait with eager anticipation for the long days of June. I have this in common with my mom, who also loves summertime's long days -- though at her latitude the winter days aren't as... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Although this came out a month ago, it only last night reached my eyes: Judaism Shines Through All They Do: Ginsburg, Sandberg, Barenblat. Written by Haley Codron, this opinion piece ran last month in the Orlando Sentinel, and it puts... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Step one: we attuned ourselves to light. I don't mean the sun, but what came first. (Heavenly bodies were day four.) The fire of the burning bush, the glowing cloud that hovered over the mishkan, the presence of creation's supernal... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi