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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
I don't want to reckon with my choices: feels like that's all we've done for 18 months (should I mask, is this safe, what if we meet outside and never breathe together?) I don't want to query who will live... Continue reading
Posted 5 hours ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Chidi Anagonye teaching about ethics on The Good Place. I was driving to the cemetery for the unveiling and dedication of a headstone when I realized why there was such a tangled knot in my stomach. It was because of... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
God is as close now as blood pulsing in ... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
The first part of the drive was on familiar roads, the same roads I take daily to get my kid to camp over the border in Vermont. What was different was that this time, I kept going. East Mountain Farm... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
How good are your beach blankets, O Yaakov -- your shaded pavilions, Yisrael! And I, in Your great kindness stand on packed sands at the edge of Your sea. Wholly One, I love Your house: this place so drenched in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
It really is in perpetual motion like my heart singing and sighing reflecting the sky face to face meeting in joy at the horizon. Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
1. Tearing into an apricot with my fingers I remember Jerusalem. 2. The high-pitched whine of the dentist's tool becomes seagulls calling. 3. Ice rattles in my glass. I can almost feel saltillo tile underfoot. Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
How to hold fear for so long my shoulders learn a new shape. How to watch numbers climb higher, and then higher. How to hold funerals and kindergarten over Zoom. How to read subtle signals via eyes alone. How to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
MALCHUYOT What does it mean to proclaim Your sovereignty? Before the Big Bang, there was You. We allowed habits to rule us. Help us throw off that yoke so our best selves may serve. Help us surrender. Help us fall... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
I search the four chambers pulsing in black and white the septum they said might be malformed (but then changed their minds, and even though one artery's mostly blocked there's still, against all odds, flow) heart that tries too hard... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
When I first saw that Netflix had a new show called High on the Hog, I thought of all the foods I stopped eating when I started keeping kosher, and I figured the show wasn't for me. But then I... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
In this week's Torah portion, Chukat, the children of Israel grouse to Moses, "Why did you take us out of Egypt to die here in the desert?" And God gets angry and sends a plague of snakes, and the snakes... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
In my son's final days of fifth grade, his class has been doing an ELA (English Language Arts) project writing "The Covid Chronicles." I don't know what anyone else's chronicle looks like, but my kid wrote some 5000 words in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
Chodesh tov: happy new month! One of my friends said that to me last night, and I groaned. "Wait, what? It's Tamuz already?!" I've had a few things on my mind. Preparing my shul community to shift from all-digital to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
This week I am reading up on cardiac catheterization. It sounds like sometimes they go in through the wrist, and sometimes at the groin. My wrists are tiny: I can't imagine that the blood vessel there is large enough to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
In this week's parsha, Shlach, the scouts go to peek at the Land of Promise. They return with a giant bunch of grapes, so big it needs to be carried by two men on a carrying frame. And most of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
This morning I moved the box of graggers back to the storage room. They've been out of place since Purim of 2020, the last in-person program we held at my synagogue before the pandemic began. I remember our Board chair... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
"Which arm do you prefer, hon?" "You're the phlebotomist; I'm just... the arm," I say, shrugging. I unfold both arms on the padded arm-rests and wait for her to choose. She fastens the tourniquet around my right bicep and palpates... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
When I was a kid the tree was impossibly enormous. It was like the giant Christmas tree that rose out of the stage, dwarfing everyone, in the local ballet's performance of the Nutcracker. But mine wasn't a Christmas tree. My... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
Only a fragment of the dream remains: a stranger yelling at me repeatedly, "But the science!" He meant, the pandemic is over, why aren't you over it. I don't think I was able to find the right words to respond.... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
When a person commits any wrong toward a fellow human being, thus breaking faith with YHVH, and that person realizes their guilt, that person must confess the wrong that he has done. They shall make restitution in the principal amount... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
Things that shouldn't exist in the same world: the scent of lilacs in bloom and the stench of the "skunk water" I read about on Facebook this morning. I sit on my mirpesset, surrounded by green: trees in leaf, willows... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
I try to make challah every Friday. While I knead the dough, I sing Shalom Aleichem to welcome the angels of Shabbat who will soon be here, and I pray the deepest prayers of my heart. This morning as I... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
If my mother were alive, she'd be asking me why I haven't written anything this week about Israel and Gaza and the West Bank. (Well, in fairness: she'd be asking why I haven't written about Israel. She didn't care about... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
This gorgeous illumination is by Joanne Fink; the poem is mine. As always, I'm humbled and honored to have midwifed this collection of new poetry, liturgy, and visual art into being -- and I know that my own poem is... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi