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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
One Saturday last month I was sitting by the pool after services, watching my son and his friends swim, when my cellphone started to buzz with messages from friends. I picked it up, and I watched in horror as white... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
For food dipped in honey, say "your love leaves my fingers fragrant." Don't rush to wash. Let sweetness linger. For savory dishes with stone fruits say "may the year balance my sweet with your salt." Let your mouth water. For... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
I'm so glad this speaks to you. Me, too.
1 reply
Every year, as the Jewish holidays approach, someone seeks me out because they’re struggling with forgiveness. Maybe this person is the adult child of a narcissist who was a cruel and self-centered parent. Maybe this person feels betrayed by an... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
At the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Ki Tavo, we read instructions for when we have entered the land of promise. When we enter that land, we are to recount where we came from, remember our hardships in life's... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
When should I light a mourner's candle in remembrance of my marriage: the date he proposed, or the date we were wed, or the date we agreed we were through? I choose the date when we sat before witnesses and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
A field, near where I live. If you've looked up at the night sky recently, perhaps you've noticed that the moon is waxing. We're moving deeper into the month of Elul: the month that leads us to the Days of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
God says: face facts. The old year is ending. You’ve outgrown it. The flowerpot that used to be home isn’t big enough anymore. Once it was spacious. Now your roots push uncomfortably against the walls. It's time to stop contorting... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
I just wrote my first piece for Scribe at the Forward. It's about the work of midlife -- and the work of this time in the Jewish year. Here's a taste: ...Every life involves course corrections, and the midlife years... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
I'm a longtime admirer of Ben Yehuda Press. They published Rabbi Jay Michaelson's The Gate of Tears, and Sue Swartz's we who desire, and Rabbi Shefa Gold's Torah Journeys, and they've recently brought out Jews Vs. Zombies. (No, really.) They... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
This coming weekend I'll be in New York city for two very different and very special Shabbat experiences. The first is Shabbat By the Sea with Temple Beth-El of City Island. You can read about it in the TBE newsletter.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
I spent Shabbat in an increasing state of horror about the white supremacist march in Charlottesville. Chants of "blood and soil," "white lives matter," and "Jew will not replace us;" white men carrying torches or wielding swastika-emblazoned flags; the death... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
I was working a few days ago with a friend's daughter who's becoming bat mitzvah in a few weeks. I found myself remembering a moment shortly after my own celebration of bat mitzvah. Faced with the prospect of writing a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
There are seven weeks between Tisha b'Av and Rosh Hashanah. Forty-nine days between the spiritual low point of our year, and the newest of new beginnings. Reb Zalman z"l taught that these 49 days parallel the 49 days of the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
It's Shabbat Shachor, the "Black Shabbat" that falls right before Tisha b'Av. Today our experience of the sweetness of Shabbat is tempered by awareness of what's broken, from our own ancient stories of destruction and becoming refugees to what we... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Somewhere in my first year or two of parenthood, it dawned on me -- through the haze of fatigue, laundry, diapers, and tantrums (Yonatan's and mine both) -- that I actually had access to a treasure trove of wisdom that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
To be fully alive and fully human, we need space, or room to breathe. This need is fundamental: it is rooted in our everyday experience. We all know what it is like to feel crowded, pressed, or overwhelmed. We know... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
One day recently, two friends from completely different quadrants of my life sent me a gorgeous Rilke poem that Father Richard Rohr had posted on his website. I had run across the poem myself a few months before, and had... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
...The Jewish calendar gives us these Three Weeks as a time for feeling the brokenness that characterizes every heart and every life. These weeks offer an invitation, and an opportunity to feel what hurts. Not because we’re going to stay... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
The Jewish calendar is filled with moadim. Usually that word is translated as "festivals," though it literally means "appointed times." Each year we have moadim of closeness to God, and also moadim of distance from God. The Days of Awe... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you, Charles. At this time, the statement that David and I issued to the Forward is all that I feel able to publicly say.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2017 on Renewing Judaism at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
When I come down to breakfast, I find two friends at the table enjoying coffee. It takes approximately five minutes for us to wind up in a halakhic conversation. It's about the psycho-spiritual, halakhic, and pastoral implications of seeking to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Renewing Judaism happens everywhere. That's one of the things that was affirmed for David and me during the Listening Tour: the renewing of Judaism is, and always has been, bigger than any organization. And that's exactly how it should be.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
A few days ago I mentioned spiritual bypassing in my commentary on a short Hasidic text. A few of you reached out to me after that post went out, asking for more about spiritual bypassing: what it it, how can... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you for this, R' Jeff. Yes -- we are called to be "response-able," in the words of Reb Zalman z"l, and to integrate qualities in healthy balance, both on an individual level and on a communal level.
1 reply