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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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SEARCH (6 ELUL) I want you to see me even when I'm unlovely. Lost on familiar roads. Who's in the mirror? My feet are confused but I know I don't want to be a mechanical rabbit on a greyhound track.... Continue reading
Posted 23 minutes ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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KNOW (ELUL 5) It's time to wake up. The shofar is sounding. This is real: open your eyes. The shofar is sounding a call to remember. Open your eyes. Who have you become? A call to remember you could have... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Velveteen Rabbi
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BLESS (ELUL 3) What do we bless I ask and you point: first flames then goblets then bread braided smooth my lips brush your forehead d'var acher another view: Blessed is the One who opens doors into holiness and implants... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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ACCEPT (ELUL 4) The leaves will turn then let go. The days will flicker like candle stubs. The woman tethered to a toxic drip will get better or she won't. The child in me shouts it isn't fair -- as... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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ACT (ELUL 2) Remember standing in the wings chest full of butterflies listening for the cue to step forward and speak? You could look at scuffed wood and remember the masking tape that told you where to stand. And when... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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DO (ELUL 1) I didn't have perfect faith. I didn't trust the world with my eggshell heart. I didn't notice each miraculous instant. I cut sandwiches into small triangles. I read about the little blue truck and the friendly tractor.... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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Last night I went to hear Rabbi Haviva Ner-David speak in Pittsfield at an event co-presented by Congregation Beth Israel (my shul), Knesset Israel, Hevreh, and and Rimon Center for Jewish Spirituality. Here's how we described the event on the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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Lately I've been working on finding the right balance between paying attention to the world and its many injustices, and cultivating an internal sense of peacefulness and compassion. Against this backdrop, a friend recently shared with me a teaching from... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Over coffee this morning, my friend Colin showed me a video which I found pretty extraordinary. It's about an endeavor called Project Daniel: The video isn't new, but it was new to me. Here's how the project's creators describe it:... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thanks, Slate, for linking to my poem about the "next highest turnpike elevation" sign in What Does This Beloved Road Sign on the Massachusetts Turnpike Actually Mean? (The poem is one I wrote in 2007, spurred by a prompt which... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you for reading and for the kind words!
1 reply
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1. Arriving back at this OMNI gives me a peculiar sort of Brigadoon feeling. Even though I know that my hevre (beloved study-friends) have been geographically scattered since we last met, when I return here and they are here too,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I've packed white linen skirt, white linen shirt, white kippah. When we welcome the Shabbat bride our whole community will be resplendent in white. I've packed my little jar of glitter so that I can sparkle for Shabbos not only... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I've watched with grief and horror this week as stories have emerged of police shooting unarmed black men. Michael Brown was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Ezell Ford was shot by police in Los Angeles. Both of these deaths... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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At this weekend's Remembering Reb Zalman Shabbaton in Colorado a variety of my friends and colleagues will be collaborating on leading Shabbat davenen. I am humbled and honored to have the chance to leyn Torah on Shabbat morning. I was... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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On Friday morning I'm going to wake up shortly before 4am (ouch) and drive to the airport for a long-awaited trip to Colorado. I go there every January for the ALEPH smicha (ordination) ceremony and for the conference given by... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
I've been fortunate enough to receive a copy of Tom Montag's new collection In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013. It merits an actual review, though I may not manage that until after the high holidays. (And I'm not sure I... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
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A few days ago we marked Tisha b'Av, the most sorrowful day on the Jewish calendar. And a few days from now, when the moon is full, we'll reach Tu b'Av, which was once one of the most joyful days... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Last week, while I was traveling, I received an email from A Way In / Mishkan Shalom which included a link to an interpretive translation, by Rabbi Yael Levy, of the traditional t'fillat ha derech, the Prayer for the Journey.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
This concatenation of ritual -- this dance that begins on Tisha b'Av and ends on Sukkot, that begins with the mournful collapse of a house and ends with the joyful collapse of a house, this intentional spasm that awakens us... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you for reading, Catherine, and for these kind words -- and especially for your prayers.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2014 on Baseless hatred: still here at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Thank you, Kristi.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2014 on Baseless hatred: still here at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Indeed, power doesn't usually like hearing uncomfortable truths. I think that's a given across all space and time. I like your point also that spending time in Diaspora has helped us, over the centuries, learn to see justice in a more compassionate and thorough way than we might have done if we had remained in power in our own state through all of these centuries. The old that is strong does not wither; Deep roots are not reached by the frost...
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2014 on Baseless hatred: still here at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Oy, David, I'm sorry you've been labeled a kapo too. It's appalling, honestly. I don't know whether the prophets faced this kind of contempt. And there's something incredibly disheartening about saying something one believes strongly, and being met with yawns... Thank you for reading, always.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2014 on Baseless hatred: still here at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
I appreciate your point about how none of us can learn more about kindness and compassion than we can learn in our lifetimes. And yet -- I do think we can learn more than what we experience in our own lives. God willing, we can learn from the experiences of others; we can learn from our sages; we can learn from our stories. How else can we keep learning, growing, and becoming closer to God as the centuries pass?
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2014 on Baseless hatred: still here at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply