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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
This is beautiful. Thank you for these photographs and for bearing witness. I wasn't able to march today; instead I led services, and gave a sermon that I hope spoke the truths I needed to say, and have spent the afternoon with my son being mom and cooking and doing laundry and refreshing all of my social media pages endlessly, cheered and heartened to see so many people around the world standing up. I know that the work ahead of us is vast -- but today I just needed a droplet of hope, and posts like this one are balm for my soul.
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Did you ever watch "Mission Impossible"? At the start of each episode, a recorded voice would announce "Your mission, should you choose to accept it..." And then after explaining the mission, the voice would conclude "this tape will self-destruct in... Continue reading
Posted 5 hours ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Likewise, Reb Jeff -- it is always good to see you, and I'm grateful for your presence as a fellow traveler on this journey we are blessed to share.
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Every year I struggle to figure out how to describe my week with this particular subset of my ALEPH / Jewish Renewal community, and every year my words come up short. This is even more true than it used to... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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These are the names of the daughters of Israel Who came into the womb of narrow unknowing Each with her household, to be rebirthed anew, Called by name at the moment of becoming No less than the stars that shine... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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Eleven years ago at this season I made my way to Colorado for my first ALEPH Ordination Programs student Shabbaton and OHALAH conference. I experienced the ritual that welcomes incoming students and blesses outgoing students, on the Sunday morning of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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...On my scraps of paper, I jotted down phrases like “the sorrow of my divorce” and “tendency to diminish my own needs” and “feeling silenced.” I felt both humbled and hopeful: humbled by the recognition that there’s much I need... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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וְלֹֽא־יָכֹ֨ל יוֹסֵ֜ף לְהִתְאַפֵּ֗ק לְכֹ֤ל הַנִּצָּבִים֙ עָלָ֔יו וַיִּקְרָ֕א הוֹצִ֥יאוּ כָל־אִ֖ישׁ מֵעָלָ֑י וְלֹא־עָ֤מַד אִישׁ֙ אִתּ֔וֹ בְּהִתְוַדַּ֥ע יוֹסֵ֖ף אֶל־אֶחָֽיו׃ Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, "Have everyone withdraw from me!" So there was no one... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I had the profound pleasure recently of sitting down with Kate Abbott of BTW Berkshires, and with Rabbi David Evan Markus (my dear friend and ALEPH co-chair), for a conversation that was both wide-ranging and deep. Kate was interviewing us... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2017 at Velveteen Rabbi
רָנִּ֥י וְשִׂמְחִ֖י בַּת־צִיּ֑וֹן כִּ֧י הִנְנִי־בָ֛א וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֥י בְתוֹכֵ֖ךְ נְאֻם־יְה "Shout for joy, daughter of Zion! For behold, I come, and I will dwell within you, says Adonai." That's the first line of the special haftarah reading for Shabbat Chanukah, Zechariah 2:14-4:7,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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At the end of the Jewish year, there are practices of introspection designed to help us re-align ourselves. The work of teshuvah (repentance / return / returning to our deepest and truest selves) calls us to look seriously at who... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Receiving Torah from my grandfather Eppie, of blessed memory. , I never knew my father's parents. My siblings did, but I didn't. Nana and Papa died before I was born. I inherited my name from my Nana whom I never... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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A friend asked me recently for suggestions of "good Chanukah music," aside from Peter, Paul & Mary's "Light One Candle" and the Stephen Colbert / Jon Stewart contemporary classic "Can I Interest You In Hanukkah?" The challenge, of course, is... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you so much, Devorah. This comment means a lot to me.
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2016 on Ascent at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Thank you so much for this comment, dear Kate.
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2016 on Ascent at Velveteen Rabbi
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I spent a lovely weekend at Camp Ramah at the National Havurah Committee's New England Retreat. It was sweet to spend the weekend with people who are passionate about their Judaism. Everyone who comes to a weekend retreat like this... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Mostly what I did during my first Williams College Jewish Association board meeting a few weeks ago was listen. I asked a couple of questions, but my purpose there was to begin learning: about who the students are, and what... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
Torah portion is determined by date. We have a weekly lectionary which assigns a specific chunk of Torah to each week of the year. In my congregation, we typically ask students to learn 12-15 verses of Torah (out of a much longer portion), so I work with each kid to choose a 12-15 verse excerpt from that week's Torah portion and that is what they learn to read or chant. They offer a d'var Torah ("words of Torah" -- e.g. a teaching or commentary) on the whole portion in lieu of me giving a sermon that morning.
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At the shul where I serve, we don't usually read the haftarah, the reading from the Prophets that in more traditional synagogues is paired with the weekly Torah reading. This decision was made years ago, largely for reasons of attention... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Torah portion, our forebear Jacob is on the run from his twin brother Esau. He lies down with his head on a stone, and he has a dream, or a vision, of a ladder rooted in the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
Immerse, my body bare as birth. Emerge with my skin tingling. Ascend the fifteen stairs to you singing love songs on every step. At the door to the holy of holies I vibrate like a struck bell. My fears rise... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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My seven year old is a huge fan of the Japanese cartoon series Pokémon. If you have never shared your life with a Pokémon fan, you might not know that Pokémon are animated creatures (many of them adorable) with varying... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Episode 22 of the Judaism Unbound podcast featured Rabbis Rachel Barenblat and David Evan Markus, co-chairs of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. In this live talkback at 8:30pm EST on Monday December 12, join the co-chairs and the hosts of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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"I would be more spiritual if my circumstances were more perfect." That's the "first illusion" cited by Ward Bauman in "Letting God be God," an article in Presence about lessons learned from Meister Eckhart. (And wow, is it a familiar... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Reading this week's Torah portion Toldot, this year, my heart goes out to Esau. His father Isaac senses that death is near, so he sends Esau out hunting so he can prepare some game and receive his father's innermost blessing.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2016 at Velveteen Rabbi