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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 the note I wrote to send to my synagogue community this week. I'm sharing it here in case it also speaks to those who are not part of my local community but are part of my broader online... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
I keep trying to write something about the current state of affairs in my country and being too daunted to begin. My words fail me. What wisdom can I possibly offer about migrant children torn from their parents and held... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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I could go outside and watch the sky change in the wintertime, but I rarely do. Sunset is early in winter, and the air is too cold for my comfort most of the time, and my mirpesset fills up with... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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One of the enduring mysteries of publishing, for me, is how different a manuscript feels once it's typeset and bound. This shouldn't be news to me. I've been privileged to work with several fine publishers, from Pecan Grove Press (who... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
...I blinked and the judge was wishing us well in whatever may unfold next for each of us. We walked out of the courtroom, and I was so dazed that I tried to put my purse back through the security... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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"Shabbat is different every week because we are different every week. Sometimes Shabbat shows up with dancing shoes, other times with a cup of cocoa and a bedtime story," writes Wilhemina Gottschalk in her introduction to The Sabbath Bee, her... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Our sages compare Shabbat to a garden. Shabbat is called both a foretaste of the world to come and a return to Eden, the primordial garden of abundance and bliss. What more perfect place to experience the sweetness of Shabbes... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I love sitting with my son on the mirpesset in the evenings. He doesn't have a ton of patience for just sitting and watching the sky change colors, but I can usually entice him out for at least a little... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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A week of Torah study lishma (for its own sake), hevreschaft (collegiality and deep friendship), dreaming about the Jewish future and how best to empower people to build that future together, visioning and strategic planning for Bayit: Your Jewish Home,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Torah portion, B'ha'a'lot'kha, we read again about the cloud of divine presence that hovered over the mishkan, the portable sanctuary our spiritual ancestors built in the wilderness. The divine presence took the appearance of a cloud by... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Where we live, school won't end until late June, but the end is beginning to be in sight. My kid is starting to talk about becoming a "rising third grader," which boggles my mind. I'm finalizing plans for his day... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Torah portion, Naso, God speaks to Moshe and tells him to transmit to Aharon the following words of blessing to give to the people: יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ / May God bless you and keep you. יָאֵ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
In going and in returning even when where you go isn't what you expected, even when where you return isn't yet a world redeemed. In sleeping and in waking. You are loved when you lie down and when you rise... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Two years ago, before Shavuot, my friend Rabbi Brent Spodek asked me to serve on a beit din -- the rabbinic court of three who preside over Jewish legal matters -- for the purpose of taking part in welcoming a... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Take a census, this week's Torah portion tells us. שְׂא֗וּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֙ כָּל־עֲדַ֣ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל -- literally, "Lift up the heads of the community of the children of Israel." Don't just count them: uplift them. Let them feel in their hearts and... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Last week I did something that felt very strange: I counseled three people to break Shabbat. I've been teaching an adult education class this year that I've called "Journey Into Judaism." We're all on a journey into authentic spiritual life,... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
The fruits of my hands bright origami cranes minced garlic and chiffonaded kale clean t-shirts, folded. The fruits of my heart poems of yearning and ache text messages that say I love you in a hundred different ways. The fruits... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Available now at Ben Yehuda Press. Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Recently I got an email from a dear friend who teaches at Knox College, asking, "Is there any chance you can come to Knox in the next few weeks?" The Jewish community at Knox has been navigating some tough stuff... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This extraordinary quote from Cornel West has been floating around lately: "Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public." Love and justice are two sides of the same coin. That's a familiar idea to me from Jewish... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
...Our ancestors believed that only something “perfect” was fit to be given to God — whether as an offering, or as the one who facilitated the offering. Reading those words now, I’m struck by how neatly they align with the... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Happy new (secular / Gregorian) month of May! I'm doing two readings from Texts to the Holy this month in the Berkshires: one in Williamstown on Saturday May 5, and one in Pittsfield on Thursday May 10. Saturday May 5,... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I'm so glad you found this helpful; thank you for letting me know!
1 reply
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Life is full of obligations. Work, school, caring for children, caring for parents, deadlines, due dates, doctor's visits, the carpool, the groceries, the laundry, the bills. Then there's the news, which contains reasons for anxiety and spurs to action: postcards,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Shavuot is drawing ever-nearer! If you're looking for more information about the progressive Hudson Valley Shavuot Retreat that I'm organizing for members of my community along with members of three other small innovative congregations (Temple Beth El of City Island,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi