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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
It's always a joy to visit Temple Beth El of City Island. For years I've been wanting to attend their annual Shabbat by the Sea -- and this year, on August 26, I will! Weather permitting, we'll meet for Kabbalat... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
If you live someplace where the sky was clear last night, you may have seen August's full moon glowing huge and luminous. On the Jewish calendar, that was the full moon of the lunar month of Av. Today is Tu... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
I want to wake to you. When my alarm pulls me (a silvered trout, struggling, from sleep's stream) you remind me I breathe air, can thrive. Your song calls forth my own. I'm a tuning fork, vibrating. When my walls... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
As Tisha b'Av approaches, I've been thinking about ענוה / anavah, humility. About this quality, my friend and colleague Rabbi Barry Block writes: The Mussar Institute’s recommended daily affirmation for ענוה (anavah – humility) is, “No more than my place,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
This isn't so much a "d'var Torah" as a "d'var calendar" -- the text I'm exploring this morning is the unfolding of our calendrical year. On Friday, just before Shabbat, we entered into the lunar month of Av. Av contains... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
In August of 2009, I went on a retreat for emerging Jewish and Muslim religious leaders organized by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In June of 2014, I returned to that retreat as an alumna facilitator. This week I'll be spending... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
This is a short passage from Jewish With Feeling, co-written by Joel Segel and Reb Zalman z"l -- I reviewed the book here back in 2005. We talked about this passage a couple of weeks ago on the final day... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
I'm honored to have a poem in Not By Might: Channeling the Power of Faith to End Gun Violence, edited by Rabbi Menachem Creditor with a forward by Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. Shannon Watts writes:... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
The folks at The Wisdom Daily have published my latest essay. It's about my sense that divorce happens in the imperfect tense. (The decision to end the marriage may now be in the past, but it's also always continuing in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
Hi Bob, Thanks for listening to the podcast! Now, in my 40s, I agree that tying ourselves to the cycle of light and dark is a good thing. But when I was 18, that wasn't so clear to me -- and at 18 I bristled at the fact of other 18-year-olds who acted as though their form of observance was innately better than mine. Who gave them the right to tell me that my Judaism was wrong? I grew up southern Reform, and I wanted my parents' household practices to be valued. What that meant when I was a freshman was that I wanted to light candles when I got to services, as my parents had done -- not before class was even out, which is what my more traditionalist classmates wanted to do. When they didn't accept my way of being Jewish, I walked out and did it on my own. I wouldn't necessarily make that choice now, but it was a formative choice for me at 18.
1 reply
The absolute highlight of my week: Kabbalat Shabbat with Nava Tehila. My week at Kallah had a lot of highlights. Teaching was one of them -- getting to spend a week teaching some of my favorite classical midrashim (interpretive stories)... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
A while back Rabbi David and I were interviewed for the Judaism Unbound podcast, wearing our ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal co-chair kippot. Our episode is the first episode in a four-part series that will also feature The Kitchen (and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
I had work for a while. The women donated mirrors and I made the basin for the place where God's presence dwells. Since then I've tended goats. What else is there for a coppersmith to do in this unsettled wilderness?... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
On the first day of Big Sky Judaism: The Everyday Thought of Reb Zalman z"l, Joel Segel took us into an imagined conversation with Reb Zalman about rationalism: "I hear where you're coming from. I understand the appeal of the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
Mincha in the mountains. 1. Unlike at last Kallah (when we were on a lake -- an easy natural mikvah), no formal mikvah experiences are scheduled for smicha week. But on Friday afternoon of my first week here, two friends... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
The 2016 ALEPH Kallah begins later today, and I can't wait. This week-long wonderland of learning, davenen, community, and togetherness has been in the works for a long time. Behind the scenes at ALEPH we've been working hard on this... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thursday morning davenen. A rainbow of tallitot (prayer shawls); a rainbow of neshamot (souls). 1. On Monday morning, the Fourth of July, we daven in semicircles of chairs beneath the trees. It feels so good to be sitting beside some... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
I'm on my way today back to Colorado for two weeks of ALEPH programming. The ALEPH Kallah begins on July 11, and of course I'll be there for that -- wouldn't miss it for the world. But I'm going to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
In this week's Torah portion, Shlakh, ten scouts are sent to glimpse the land of promise. What they see there terrifies them. The grapes are so big that two men are required to carry a single bundle. They return to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
My latest essay for The Wisdom Daily is online. It's on what one might call "spirituality on the run" -- the challenge of maintaining spiritual practice or spiritual life at the frantic pace (and frequent multitasking) of ordinary life. Here's... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
You watch over my changes. I trust you: I am not afraid. I find strength in your song. I become more myself. Together we draw water in joy from the living well. We draw forth the changes with which you... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
A while back I received a note from Rabbi Jack Riemer, author of one of my favorite revisionings of Unetaneh Tokef, and co-author with Sylvan Kamens of We Remember Them, which I use at every funeral. He had written a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
Oh, Beth, these are lovely. I especially love the watercolor at the top of this post.
Toggle Commented Jun 21, 2016 on Recent Sketches at the cassandra pages
All week I've been thinking about what I might say here in shul this morning. Mere commentary on this week's Torah portion feels insufficient. How can I talk about the rituals of the nazir, one who makes promises to God... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
For three glorious days I'm with you on the mountain. Face to face with your radiance I remember how to shine. I am seen. I open in places I didn't know had been closed. And then it's over. Even in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi