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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
Many years ago I wrote a post about new translations of psalms, and one of the translations I referenced was from my teacher Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a.k.a. Reb Zalman. His creative, heartfelt, pray-able, earth-conscious renderings of psalms weren't published anywhere... Continue reading
Posted 11 hours ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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MAP AND TERRITORY Draw the lines firm: give no doubt where the boundaries between us and them. Your choice of alphabet will locate you on one side or the other. Think of the man walking for seven years from where... Continue reading
Posted 13 hours ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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ELIJAH WAITS Elijah walks the streets with Moshiach's phone number programmed into his cellphone. In his messenger bag gift cards and cigarettes he hands out to the homeless. He always buys roses and gum from the kids who peddle at... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Velveteen Rabbi
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NOT EXACTLY NEW YORK SCHOOL It's the twenty-first of April (and the same in Nisan, though more than three thousand years separate the Gregorian calendar from the Jewish one) also the seventh day of Passover, sixth day of the Omer,... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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BRIDGE OF FLOWERS, EASTER MORNING Because we had to hurry to go through the river and our bread fell off our backs. I was an Israelite. I love the daffodils best. They're all growing. That's what spring is. Matzah is... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Six years ago, I attended Easter services in Williamstown for the first time. Our friend Bernard was here that year and needed a place to worship. He was far away from his home church of St. Kizito's in Nima, Accra,... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Thanks, Colonialist! Your poem is quite entertaining -- you worked a lot of names in, I'm impressed.
1 reply
I wonder how many of us will see this shell name and think of the eclipse? Your poems are lovely.
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INCISED MOON Once I would have woken at three to see our planet's shadow carving a black crescent. To watch her face disappear only to return, round and red as though hiding aroused her. But after the year of night... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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I'm about to begin teaching a weekly Omer spiritual study group at my synagogue, and as a result, I've been collecting materials to share. We'll be working sometimes with the kabbalistic paradigm which assigns to each week of the Omer,... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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ATTRIBUTES God, do You ever grow weary, snap at Your children, say things you regret once they leave Your mouth and we shrink away? Slice the words off before they're spoken. Revise Yourself into lovingkindness. Be the One we call... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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HOW I KNOW I'M HOME cold coffee splashes over half-moons of ice scattering splenda into the morning air -- far from the thick mud scented with cardamom which I drank from thimbles beneath vaulted ceilings -- this is sweet and... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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TEN SEDER LIES We didn't open the door for Elijah last night. Miriam's Cup wasn't full of living waters. The hidden matzah languished, unlooked-for. Costumes for the pageant never left their box. No one asked about the seder plate stowaways.... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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GIFT You stand beside and sing the words with me. I did the same in Texas years ago. How is this night different? Come and see. My childhood seders aren't for you to know. You draw an orange on your... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Chag sameach - happy Pesach! Tonight at our second-night seders we'll begin the tradition of Counting the Omer. "Omer" means measures. When the Temple still stood, it was customary to bring harvest offerings three times a year, at Sukkot, Pesach,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thanks, Serena! I just clicked through and read your response to this prompt, which I really like, too.
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I hear you -- a lot of religious poetry is treacly and sentimental, and satisfies me neither as a religious person nor as a poet. I'm glad this poem didn't disappoint!
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BE What do you want to be? Have you always known? Can you imagine the becoming? What would it feel like? Would you carry your body differently? How would you walk in the world? Will you be at a seder... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Tonight at the seder we will read or sing the psalms of Hallel. (At my house we'll do some reading, some Hebrew, some English poetry of praise. Tomorrow night at the synagogue's community seder we'll probably sing excerpts from the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This morning my co-teacher and I hid scraps of chametz -- leaven -- around the synagogue. Not because we wanted to give our cleaning crew an extra challenge tomorrow, but because we wanted to teach some of our youngest members... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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CHANGE slavery into freedom midwives into dissidents basket into ark Hebrew into prince babbler into stutterer boy into man overseer into corpse bush into flame was into will-be fugitive into emissary staffs into snakes Nile into blood darkness into light... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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REDEMPTION IS Redemption is the sensory impression of leaving slavery, throngs shoving toward the parted seas. The redemption project was originally created by Malachi's promise to turn parents' hearts to their children, children to their parents. What do the beating... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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A Jewish Renewal perspective on the tetrad of lunar eclipses, by rabbinic student David Markus and Rabbi Rachel Barenblat. We in North America are about to experience four total lunar eclipses in a row which, incredibly, will coincide with Pesach... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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COUNT Soon we'll start to count each day the weeks until first harvest. Not grain; instead, discernment. Refine away the heart's dross on this labyrinth's curved path. When we get to forty-nine will we be poised to receive? Since today's... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thanks for the kind words, Susan! I'm not sure I got that email, but you're welcome to reprint the poem, as long as attribution remains attached. Thanks!
1 reply