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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
What qualities do you want to bring into your sukkah this year? Here's a download that features a classical set of Jewish values: lovingkindness, boundaries, balance, perseverance, humility, rootedness, nobility. (You might recognize those seven qualities as the "seven lower... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Oh, Wendy, this is so wonderful to hear. Thank you for sharing this. I am so glad you are feeling strengthened today. Thank you for being a part of our community - I am so grateful!
Toggle Commented Oct 10, 2019 on The day after at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
It's the day after Yom Kippur. If you're feeling overwhelmed, strangely emotional, thin-skinned, like the hustle and bustle and injustice of the world is more than you can bear today, you're not alone. Some people call this a vulnerability hangover.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
A few days before my mother died, I sat by her bedside with my phone in my hand. It had been a tough morning. Even with the oxygen cannula in her nose she had struggled to breathe. She was anxious... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Ordinarily on Kol Nidre night I speak about forgiving the vows we've broken to ourselves and to God. (Broken vows made to each other require not only an apology and teshuvah, but also reparations -- making amends for any harm... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
It's Shabbat Shuvah -- the Shabbat of Return. The Shabbat of turning and returning, in this season of turning and returning. "Return again, return again, return to the land of your soul." What kind of return does your soul yearn... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
In 1939, my mother, of blessed memory, emigrated to the United States on the SS President Harding. She was three years old. She and her family made it out because her father, my grandfather, had an American birth certificate. He... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
We're almost done with our year of reading Torah through a building-focused lens at Builders Blog. I wrote this week's post -- beautifully sketchnoted, as always, by Steve Silbert -- arising out of parashat Vayeilech. I found two lessons, and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
My voice teacher this summer, Rabbi Minna Bromberg, begins all of our lessons the same way. She walks me through grounding myself: feet on the floor, crown toward the sky, strong back, soft belly. The body is a connector between... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Mom, I'm on my mirpesset on the first day of fall. You loved that word -- a little taste of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Two of the zinnias my son planted last spring have sent up new buds, like dancers... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Tonight many synagogues will hold Selichot services -- an evening liturgy that usually includes prayers, piyyutim (poems), and some of the musical liturgy of the Days of Awe. At my shul, Selichot services are a first opportunity to immerse ourselves... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you so much for this comment -- and for reading this sermon; I'm honored that you took the time to do so, especially davka now!
1 reply
Suddenly the two stately trees outside my window are shot through with sprays of gold. My heart rails against the turning season like a child resisting bedtime, but the trees hear the shofar's call. Come alive, flare up, be who... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Sorry about that! This post is from 2004, so it's been 15 years; I'm not surprised that a lot of these links have stopped working. Sorry I can't be more helpful. You might try the "Elul" category of the blog, which will have more recent posts...
Toggle Commented Sep 8, 2019 on Daily psalm at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
"Justice, justice, shall you pursue." (Deut. 16:20) Or in the translation of my friend and colleague Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, "Resist so that you may exist." Because Torah says we are to pursue justice in order that we may live. It's... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Within minutes of arrival, I'm drawn into a conversation about the meaning of the end of the Book of Jonah, its place in the arc of Yom Kippur, and what the ellipses implicit in that ending have to teach us.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
In my car: a case of wine, my suitcase, giant sticky-tab pages, markers, a dry erase board, more markers, guitar, tallit and tefillin, siddur, Sfat Emet book, water shoes, sneakers, sun hat, computer bag, bentschers, non-perishable groceries for the dinner... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Mom, tonight after I got the kid to bed I stepped outside onto the balcony -- the air cool without a robe already, late August preparing to give way -- and the Big Dipper gleamed above me, and Cassiopeia. I... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Reading this week's Torah portion, Eikev, the verses that leapt out at me were Deuteronomy 8:3-4: "God subjected you to the hardship of hunger and then gave you manna to eat, which neither you nor your fathers had ever known,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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 Aug 19, 2019 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