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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
The alligator clips for holding a hank of hair while the rest is blown dry wait patiently for you to return and need them again. In your last years you joined the ranks of little old ladies who let the... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
"I'll be at synagogue for Tisha b'Av," I tell my son. What's that, he asks. "It's when we remember that we used to have a Temple in Jerusalem, but it was destroyed. So we built it again, and it was... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Not sure what I fear more: that your house will feel the same or that it won't. The wheelchair and hospital machines will be gone, but the books in the library will still be arranged by color, abstract modern art... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I had the profound pleasure of coauthoring this week's Builders Blog post with my friend and colleague Rabbi Bella Bogart. In studying this week's Torah portion together, we discerned some important building lessons. And we also discovered that when we... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
This week's Torah portion, Matot-Masei, opens with instructions concerning vows. Torah's not just talking about little promises; it's talking about swearing, as in "I swear to God" -- or "I swear by God." Torah takes oaths like these very seriously.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I've curated a new prayer for Tisha b'Av that interweaves quotes from Lamentations with quotes from migrants and refugees on the United States' southern border today. In reading the prayer aloud, we put the words of refugees -- parents separated... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Texts to the Holy is available online at the Ben Yehuda website or wherever books are sold. Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Parashat Balak introduces us to two non-Jewish figures: the titular Balak, a Moabite king, and the prophet Balaam. Balak, seeing the children of Israel encamped in his territory, becomes fearful that these strangers will overrun his country. (Echoes of Pharaoh,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Water from a well. I sat down to write about the episode in this week's Torah portion, Chukat, where Miriam dies and the people have no water. And I kept thinking about the people who've been arrested for the supposed... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
This is a postcard -- oversized, five by seven and glossy. On the front a photo of my garden: look, the half-dead bushes are gone, and the tangle of wild mint and weeds. In their place tall purple astilbe, silver-leafed... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
"Watch this, Mom, watch me." My son jumps into the pool, surfacing to ask "was that a perfect pencil dive?" Or "look at this, do I look like a dolphin," wiggling through the water, "or more like a whale?" breaching... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I do remember seeing her post about this! Thank you for that reminder. Thinking of her, and of you.
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2019 on Chrysalis at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
On my Italian parsley plant: a fat green stripey caterpillar. It's a black swallowtail in fourth instar, readying for its chrysalis. Unlike the monarch, predictable in its cycle of rebirth, these take an indeterminate time encased in green or brown... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
In this week's Torah portion, Shlach-Lecha, we find the story of the scouts. Maybe you remember it. Here's the thumbnail sketch: Moshe sends twelve scouts to check out the Land of Promise. They come back bearing a giant bunch of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Best hours for sun: ten until two. You taught me that, sunbathing on the flat woven chaise by the pool straps pulled down so you wouldn't mar any off-the-shoulder blouse with lines. No one thinks like that anymore. Here and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
The mishkan (the dwelling place for God) wasn't just an external thing our ancestors built in the wilderness way back when. It's also something we're each called to build and maintain in our own hearts. And just as the mishkan... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
When I shot up like a weed our feet stopped matching. Our tastes diverged too: once I moved out I chose Docs, clunky Mary Janes. When you got sick your shoes languished, replaced by scuffs and slippers. Two days after... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I don't know when the doll collecting started. One of the standing dolls has a note on the base that reads "from Brad, Japan, 1975," which tells me it was a gift from one of my brothers the year I... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
My son's dance performance opens with a song you used to play. I weep for how you rolled these chords. I can still hear you singing "I need someone to love and understand me," the way you'd slow for emphasis... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
On the night before Shavuot I fall asleep thinking about revelation. In my dream you give me a necklace, a cluster of charms on a long chain. Some are golden plates engraved with the words we'll say about you at... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
1. Digital ghosts Modern life is full of digital ghosts. Like the google cal popup that appears on my laptop screen to helpfully remind me of "our anniversary!" My ex-husband or I must have input that into google, and for... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
"See you at Sinai!" That's how I end a lot of my emails to friends and colleagues right now. Because Shavuot is coming, and at Shavuot we all stand again at Sinai to receive. We've been counting down the 49... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
You're welcome to use any of my poems (by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat), and I'd love to see your oratorio setting when it's complete. I don't know about the other authors whose work appears in this handout; presumably you'd need to reach out individually to each of them.
Toggle Commented Jun 3, 2019 on Poems of Ruth - for Shavuot at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
The book of Bamidbar (“In the Wilderness”) begins with instruction to take a census. Literally, the Hebrew instructs Moses to “Lift up the heads” of the whole community. (Well, sort of: the original instruction was to lift up the heads... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ וְאֶת־מִצְותַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם׃ If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments, וְנָתַתִּ֥י גִשְׁמֵיכֶ֖ם בְּעִתָּ֑ם וְנָתְנָ֤ה הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ יְבוּלָ֔הּ וְעֵ֥ץ הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה יִתֵּ֥ן פִּרְיֽוֹ׃ I will grant your rains in their season, so that the earth shall yield... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi