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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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These are the year's darkest days, in the northern hemisphere where I live. Every day there is a little bit less light. Sundown creeps earlier, and sunrise is later. Every day there is less daylight and more darkness. This isn't... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Velveteen Rabbi
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This week's Torah portion, Vayigash, brings a dramatic turn in the Joseph story. After a long and twisty series of events -- beginning maybe with Joseph telling the brothers to return to Egypt and bring Benjamin, Rachel's other son, with... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
In the familiar weight of the cat who turns in a circle on my lap, then curls to gnaw on my belt loops. In the smoke and salt of almonds steeped in wasabi and soy, satisfying and sharp on my... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
On Chanukah we celebrate the miracle of light – which can feel challenging when we are surrounded by so much darkness, both physically (short winter days) and spiritually by the increase of hate and oppression around the world. It’s especially... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Chanukah means "dedication." As in chanukat bayit, the ritual of blessing and dedicating a new home. Or Chanukat Bayit, the experience of rededicating The House, the home for God's presence on Earth, which was how we understood the Temple in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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At the start of this week's parsha, Vayeshev, Joseph tells his brothers about his dreams. In one dream, their sheaves of wheat bow down to his. In another, the stars and the sun and moon (maybe a representation of the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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What sparks the writing of a book? Probably no two authors have the same answer to that question, but here's the answer I heard from Dr. Heather J. Sharkey earlier this week. Her latest book arose, she tells us, in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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We've all heard the term "Judeo-Christian." (And many of us have objected to it strenuously on the grounds that it erases important distinctions between Judaism and Christianity, and that when our traditions are conflated, often Judaism is appropriated to bolster... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Many of us struggle at this time of year. In the northern hemisphere the days are growing shorter and darker. Even one who doesn't have an official diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder can feel the effects of the season. There's... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Sometimes online conversation spaces feel like an overcrowded room. A vast arena, people jostling to be heard. The floor of the New York Stock Exchange, complete with yelling. A stockyard full of lowing cattle, hooves pounding the ground beneath into... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This guest post is from Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, my fellow co-founder at Bayit: Your Jewish Home, and his CBST colleague Rabbi Yael Rapport. It features some of the amazing Torah of allyship that R' Mike was teaching when he visited... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I understand now why you had to leave. Your souls are honed, refined, the more you search for meaning and connection. Here with me humanity's the only thing that couldn't grow. But did God ever stop to think how much... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
There's a feeling that sometimes comes with grief: how can the world be functioning normally when I am feeling this? I've heard it from others many times. I've felt it myself many times, too. How can the world just keep... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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It's the day after the midterm elections. It feels a little bit like the day after all of the fall holidays are complete. I always come out of the high holiday season feeling some combination of exhilarated and grateful, and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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When I arrived at my shul on Shabbat morning, it was covered with graffiti. Not the kind of hateful graffiti that's been cropping up at synagogues around the nation in recent days: rather, signs, cards, and messages of love and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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One of the coolest things about the parshanut (Torah commentary) series we're doing at Builder's Blog (a project of Bayit: Your Jewish Home) is that our friend, colleague, and fellow builder Steve Silbert is sketchnoting each week's d'dvar Torah. Each... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Sarah's lifetime -- the span of Sarah's life -- came to one hundred and twenty-seven years. That's the first line of this week's Torah portion, Chayyei Sarah, which means The Life of Sarah, or perhaps The Lives of Sarah. It's... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I'm a relatively new listener to Imaginary Worlds, a podcast about science fiction and speculative fiction and fantasy. But I've become a fan in recent weeks, which is especially delightful because I had the opportunity to be a guest on... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This month marks fifteen years since I started blogging. I'm not alone in that milestone; I am blessed to have made several friends in early blogging days who are still blogging even now, and whose creative and literary lives continue... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
"But why did he do it?" my son asks me this morning in the car on the way to school. "It couldn't be just because he hates Jewish people." "Some people hate anything that's different from them," I say, carefully,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
On Friday, I stood with friends and children, townspeople and college students, on the town green. We were holding up signs that said things like "Trans people matter" and "trans rights are human rights." Some of our signs were painted... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
The president has been ranting about globalists. I did some research into why the "globalist" label is considered anti-semitic, and what it means to be a globalist, anyway. And then I wrote an essay for the Forward, and here's a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
When Moshe ascended to heaven, he saw the Holy One of Blessing writing the words of a Torah scroll as does a soferet, with quill and gall-nut ink, and painstakingly adding filligree and crowns to the letters. Moshe asked the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
The syllables of your name light me like a chanukiyah I spill over, a brimming cup. It's more than I can say: more than all the prayers and songs, poems and letters posts and status updates than are made in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
For a cascade of kittens making improbable leaps. For tiny feet ascending my shoulders. For their language of mews and rumbly purrs. For paws opening and closing. kneading invisible dough. For short pointy tails and radar-dish ears. For all of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi