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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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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 8 hours ago 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 2 days ago 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 4 days ago 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 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Torah portion, Chayyei Sarah, Avraham purchases a cave in which to bury his wife Sarah. The cave is named מכפלה / Machpelah. In English, it's just a place-name. In Hebrew, it has a meaning. The root of... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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The Forward's latest Rabbi Roundtable is up -- on the question "what is one thing Jews need to stop doing? Once again they chose to frame their question negatively, which exasperates me a little. (I would have preferred to have... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Shabbat shalom! Thank you for welcoming Rabbi David and me into your synagogue and into your community this weekend. We named our weekend together "Visions of Renewal." I want to unpack that a bit. Why "vision," and what's "renewal"? Over... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
The kitten on my lap is as comforting as Shechina's embrace. When I bend my head to seek forgiveness he kisses my third eye with raspy tongue. He takes delight in my tzitzit. When I sing, he purrs God's quietest... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Notice autumn's attenuation of light, how early night brings stars. Back to the beginning. Dark came first. Then God ached for an other, for face meeting face, the birth of I and Thou. Shaped us from earth and breathed a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This d'var Torah mentions mistreatment of women, including sexual assault. If this is likely to be triggering for you, please exercise self-care. This week's Torah portion is rich and deep. It begins with God's command to Avram לך–לך / lech-lecha,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I think their general intention is to publish these responses once a week, but given that the opioid epidemic is in the news, the folks at the Forward decided to publish a second Rabbi Roundtable this week: We asked 22... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The next installment in the Forward's Rabbi Roundtable has gone live. This week they chose to feature our answers to the question "Are Jews the inheritors of Eretz Yisrael?" Read all of our answers -- including mine -- here at... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Chodesh tov: a good and sweet new month to you! Today we enter the month of Cheshvan, a month that is unique because it contains no Jewish holidays at all. (Except for Shabbat, of course.) After the spiritual marathon of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The good folks at the the Forward have started up a new series they're calling Rabbi Roundtable. They chose 17 rabbis from across the denominational spectrum, and they're posing questions to us and sharing our answers. The first one of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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...This is our time to rest, like bulbs cradled in the embrace of the earth. It’s time to slow our breathing, like the shavasana pose that ends many yoga classes. We’ve been pouring out our hearts: now it’s time to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
That's not a question I can answer; I don't work for the synagogue, I'm just going to be a scholar-in-residence for a weekend. Sorry you're having difficulties with their website. Perhaps email them? tbc@templebnaichaim.org
Toggle Commented Oct 16, 2017 on Visions of Renewal in Connecticut at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
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One of the great joys of being an unofficial ambassador for Jewish Renewal is getting invited to share spiritual technologies that have deeply shaped my life and my rabbinate with new communities that may not yet have experienced them. Over... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Today we shift from praying for dew to praying for rain, and as we made that shift, something occurred to me. We say a special prayer for rain today on Shemini Atzeret, launching our season of asking God for rain... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
הושע הא / Hosha na, please save! For the sake of Acting in good faith For the sake of Boundaries and their maintenance For the sake of Choosing to see clearly For the sake of Directly naming what is broken... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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If I could, I would invite you into my mirpesset sukkah when morning light paints the valley golden, or when twilight pinks the horizon, or when the moon is visible over the mountains to the east. It's hard for photographs... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I don't entirely know how to write about Tova Mirvis' The Book of Separation. It is beautiful, of course. It is painful. It is rich. It is hopeful. It is the intertwined story of her divorce and her leaving Orthodoxy.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
We live in a world of trauma and tragedy and outrage and constant micro-aggressions. In recent weeks we've seen hurricanes bring unthinkable devastation. The massacre in Las Vegas is heartbreaking. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports a rise in misogyny... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I loved and grieved from the day you claimed your free will, Knowing that you too would open into infinite love and grief, Knowing how your hearts would bloom with gratitude and hope With every child’s every first, and lament... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Dear Lennie, I'm so delighted that that prayer / poem spoke to you! Thank you for letting me know that it reached you, and that it inspired you to write your own. I hope that your experience was deep and high and sweet, and I wish you blessings in the year to come. Blessings, Rabbi Rachel
1 reply
Thank you for these kind words, Bill. I'm so glad this poem / prayer speaks to you! This comment makes my morning. As an FYI, the poem now appears in my most recent collection, Open My Lips, published by Ben Yehuda Press last year: http://benyehudapress.com/books/open-my-lips/
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2017 on A personal Al Chet at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply