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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 week's Torah portion is called Bo, for its opening words ויאמר יהו׳׳ה על–משה בא על–פרעא / Vayomer YHVH el-Moshe, "Bo el-Paro" -- "And God said to Moshe, 'Come to Pharaoh.'" Most translations say "Go to Pharaoh." But the Hebrew... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Velveteen Rabbi
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Recently I've been following a series of stories online, hashtagged #HolyWomenHolyLand -- written by a group of six rabbis and five pastors (all women) who have been traveling together in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Their updates have been heartbreaking... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This week's Rabbi Roundtable asks us to imagine the Jewish community of 50 years in the future. I'm surprised, this week, by how many of my colleagues don't seem to feel as optimistic as I do about the Jewish future!... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This is a happy week for publishing news around these parts! A few days ago I shared with y'all about Beside Still Waters, a volume for mourners to be released this spring by Ben Yehuda Press and Bayit: Your Jewish... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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One of the things I'm most excited about in the secular new year is a new publishing partnership between Ben Yehuda Press -- the press that published Open My Lips, and will publish Texts to the Holy this spring! --... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Yoda said something vague about Rey having everything she needs but wasn't clear about it (and I don't think we were meant to know it then.) But at the very end of the movie, when the remnant Rebel gang is licking their wounds, we see a quick shot of the ancient texts in Rey's bag. :-)
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi was deeply satisfying to me on several levels. I appreciated its feminism, especially in this current political moment when women's leadership has felt devalued in the public sphere. I enjoyed its subversive qualities. And most... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
A woman of valor! Worth more than business class tickets to anywhere. Every day I pack my son's lunch, tuck his homework into his backpack. I pay the mortgage. I ensure my car is legal and fit to drive. I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The beginning of this week's Torah portion, Miketz, describes two of Pharaoh's dreams. First he dreamed about seven healthy cows who got devoured by seven gaunt cows. Then he dreamed about seven healthy ears of grain that got devoured by... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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My friend Steve Silbert has been drawing weekly sketchnote illustrations of each week's Torah portion. This week he writes: This week’s Torah portion is called Mikeitz, which means “after”. In context, it’s two years after Joseph was sold into slavery.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This week's edition of the Forward's Rabbi Roundtable asks, "What are Jews? — a race, a religion, a culture, an ethnicity, a nation….?" I'm glad to see that many of us rejected the possibility of Jews as a "race," for... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Even in times of greatest darkness, when it seems that hope is gone, when you feel tapped-out and drained, when you have no more resources to draw on, when you've done everything you know how to do: don't give up.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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A glimpse of where and how I davened on Friday morning. One of the highlights of my URJ Biennial was davening last Friday morning with Nava Tehila. This is not surprising. Longtime readers of my blog know that davening with... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In the shul that I serve, two editions of the Torah are tucked into the seats in our sanctuary. One is The Torah: A Modern Commentary, ed. by Gunther Plaut -- the standard (male-authored) commentary that appears in most Reform... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Today I'm off to the URJ Biennial, the big gathering of the Reform movement. The last time I attended a Biennial was 2005 in Houston, Texas. In 2005 I was a baby rabbinical student, only a few months into my... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Rabbi Roundtable, the Forward editors asked us, "What makes you proud to be a Jew?" I spoke about our approach to sacred time, our approach to renewed and renewing text study, and our drive to bring justice... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This week’s Torah portion takes us into the “Joseph novella,” which will continue through the rest of Genesis. As Joseph’s story begins, he’s tending sheep with his brothers and reporting on their behavior to their father Jacob. The Torah doesn’t... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Torah portion, Jacob is given a new name -- twice. Or maybe even three times. (It's the same name each time.) The first time comes on the cusp of his meeting with his estranged brother Esau. He... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This week's installation of the Forward's Rabbi Roundtable asks, "Is there such a thing as Jewish values?" Many of us referenced the extent to which our "Jewish values" are universal. Several of us referenced the value of loving the stranger... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I used to own a long, soft, narrow-wale corduroy dress that always seemed to call to me around this time of year. Its colors were muted: taupe and pale purple and deep fir-green. One day I realized that it matched... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The Forward's Rabbi Roundtable continues. This week's question was, "“If there is one lesson Jews today should learn from the Talmud, what is it?” Many of us said something about pluralism, diversity of voices, and embracing complexity. And more than... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Attending daily worship here has been fascinating, rich, fruitful, sometimes challenging, and often beautiful. I've spoken with other participants about their experience of worship, and they tell me that it is not like what they are accustomed to at home.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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One of the things I'm loving about this week with the Academy for Spiritual Formation is their practice around silence. After evening worship, we maintain silence until morning prayer. No talking in the halls; no talking in the rooms. Just... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The strangest thing about this experience of The Academy for Spiritual Formation thus far is how familiar it feels. I've never been here before. I've never met any of these people. And more importantly, I've never been on a Christian... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I've participated in a lot of two-year training programs, from my low-residency MFA at Bennington (which I began in June of 1997, more than twenty years ago -- how did that happen?!) to the Davenen Leadership Training Institute while I... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi