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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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At the blessed crack of well-before-dawn on Sunday I'm heading south for what promises to be a truly extraordinary week. Each year, the chaplains at Williams College partner with the Center for Learning in Action on an interfaith service trip... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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I have loved Pesach since I was a kid. All my life it has been the brightest star in my firmament, the holiday I look forward to the most. And many of the things that I loved about it when... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Beth, thank you for chiming in. I suspect there are differences between the experience of ending a marriage after 18 months and after 18 years... and, no one has a monopoly on the experience of unfinished / un-closed griefs, and the older I get, the more certain I am that they are a natural part of longevity. I don't want to forget. I don't want the grief to stop arising. But I do often ask for help (from God, or my highest self, or whoever might be listening) in remembering to cultivate gratitude for the connections that existed in order to allow the grief to arise in the first place... and, I'm grateful that one of the differences between this year and last year is that the balance of grief to gratitude has shifted. A year ago everything was coming apart at the seams. Now, at least, I can see that I am beginning to rebuild, and I can trust that good things lie ahead. On an unrelated note, how lovely to be having blog-conversation with you and Lorianne again! Feels like old times. :-)
Toggle Commented 5 days ago on On divorce and ambiguous loss at Velveteen Rabbi
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Lorianne, thank you for this reflection.Thank you for reminding me that the moments of grief will continue, and also for normalizing that continuation. Divorced from that part of myself: yes. Yes. There are so many things I loved -- most especially music, though also films, and even locations -- that are unbearably bittersweet for me now. I trust that in time I will be able to reclaim some of them, but for now, I'm cut off from the me who immersed in those things, because that "me" was a "we," and the "we" doesn't exist anymore. And what you say at the end of this comment, about the wide sea between the you of now and the idealistic newlywed you -- yes to that too.
Toggle Commented 5 days ago on On divorce and ambiguous loss at Velveteen Rabbi
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Thank you for sharing the podcast with me, my dear -- it has really shaped my week, and I know it will reverberate in weeks to come.
Toggle Commented 5 days ago on On divorce and ambiguous loss at Velveteen Rabbi
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"I think this might speak to you," said my friend Cate as she sent me a link to The Myth of Closure, a July 2016 episode of On Being featuring Dr. Pauline Boss. In interviewer Krista Tippett's words, the episode... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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I'm delighted to be able to announce this happy news: Ben Yehuda Press will be publishing my next collection of poems, Texts to the Holy! Many of the poems from Texts to the Holy have appeared on this blog over... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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I'm honored to be today's featured poet at The Rise Up Review. The poem of mine that they're featuring today is the first poem I wrote during 2017: Here's the page containing my poem and bio; here's the index page,... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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"I'm deeply distressed at the desecration of Jewish cemeteries," said my colleague Sharif at the weekly chaplains' staff meeting at our small liberal arts college. "I'm deeply distressed by the mosques set afire," I said to him in return. We... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
I will keep company with you where you go I will go when bitter exile narrows your horizon your tight straits will be mine too let me lift you from the ashes, dress you in nothing but light like a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
A short d'var Torah. (Which may or may not about the parsha -- in this instance, my wee d'var was on the chag, rather than the parsha.)
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2017 on What costumes can reveal at Velveteen Rabbi
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Thank you for reading it, and for the kind words, and for remembering those days with me!
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2017 on What costumes can reveal at Velveteen Rabbi
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I remember the first time I saw a boy in drag and found him beautiful. It was fall of my freshman year. My first boyfriend lived in the entry next to mine, and he dressed in my clothes for a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
...What role does joy play in spiritual life? Some might claim that it’s a distraction from spiritual life, but that’s not the Jewish way. The psalms instruct us to serve God with joy (Psalm 100:2). The Talmud tells us that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The festival of Purim (coming up this Saturday) is a holiday of concealment. At Purim we read the Scroll of Esther, a delightfully bawdy Persian court soap opera which doesn't appear, at first glance, to have much to do with... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This week's Torah portion, Terumah, contains exquisitely detailed instructions for the building of the mishkan, the portable dwelling-place for God that our ancestors created in the wilderness. But there's one element in the design that is intriguingly vague: the instruction... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This week's Torah portion, Terumah, contains one of my favorite verses in Torah: ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם -- usually translated as "Let them make for Me a sanctuary, that I might dwell in their midst." It comes as part... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
In recent days, Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized and desecrated in St. Louis and in Philadelphia, and bomb threats at Jewish community centers and Jewish day schools are becoming commonplace. (There were 31 such threats on Monday; there have been... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
I want to gaze at you not through lowered lashes protecting my tender places, but heart splayed wide to everything I learn when I let myself be seen. I want to gaze at you without flinching, knowing what you'll find... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This coming Sunday I'll be the featured poet at the eighth annual Jewish Poetry Festival at Temple Sinai. Temple Sinai is at 50 Sewall Avenue in Brookline, MA. I'll be sharing poems at 2pm, followed by Q-and-A. I'm planning to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
What a wonderful thing for you to say. Thank you, Reb Jeff!
Toggle Commented Feb 22, 2017 on Intensive care at Velveteen Rabbi
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A few weeks ago I received a couple of photo albums in the mail from my parents. One of them contained photographs from the first months of my life, beginning with the weeks I spent at what they then called... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Torah portion, the children of Israel tell Moses, כל אשר דבר ה׳ נעשה / "All that God has spoken, we will do." After that, they receive the Ten Commandments. Wait. Doesn't that seem backwards? How could we... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you for this post, Beth. So much.
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2017 on On non-retirement at the cassandra pages
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Many years ago when I was in rabbinic school I used to daven one morning a week with a telephone minyan of rabbinic school friends. We were all in the eastern time zone, in states scattered across the country. We... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi