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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
Dad says he visits you at the cemetery every day, except Saturdays when the gates are closed. (Has grass begun to grow? I don't ask.) We agree you wouldn't care about the words of kaddish but it's what we know... Continue reading
Posted 5 hours ago at Velveteen Rabbi
The year your mother died just before Pesach I remember my grandfather at the seder. He had aged, inexplicably. He looked lost. But I don't remember you that year: were you grieving, did you struggle? I was a teenager and... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
My first bicycle was hot pink. When I was eight and skipped PE for weeks on end you hired coach to tutor me. She taught me how to catch a frisbee, not flinch from a softball, ride a bike without... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
When the house lights went down I started to cry. It's just a third grade concert -- songs about "this earth our home" with canned accompaniment and four third-grade classes fidgeting on the risers -- but you'd have loved it.... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Will you and your parents sit down to seder on high on the night when we sit down to seder below? Who sings the Four Questions, the person in the family most newly-arrived to the afterlife? Will you thank the... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Tonight at bedtime a distraught boy. A stuffed animal left at grandma's. He keeps searching, saying "Sealie? Sealie?" The thing is, Mom, he says, you don't know what it's like to have loveys who really matter. My brown bear and... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Parent observation night at the dance school. I caught my son with my camera in an idle moment running his hands through his hair. He looked like a teenager. When I was nine I still threw my arms around your... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
The envelopes would arrive at random: filled with clippings, sometimes highlighted in yellow, with a Post-It reading "Trivia From Mom." Dear Mom: here's some trivia from the living. I refilled a prescription today, and picked up the dry cleaning. I've... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
There's a lot of death in those poems, you say to me. How about something a little brighter? Isn't it spring yet where you live? Talk to me about tulips like the ones that nod in bright even rows down... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
When I come home from the cemetery -- tradition says put a pitcher and basin outside, so when the mourners return they can wash themselves clean. It's not about the dirt. It's emotional, it's spiritual, like washing that man right... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
2019: the year I did back to back funerals after we buried you. How long will it be before those words stop feeling strange? This time the day was wet and raw, like your funeral was. This time there were... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Today I thought of you as I listened to two women tell stories about their mother, a tiny woman with a spine of steel who was always "put-together." I imagine the two of you meeting at a mixer for newly-arrived... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Four days before the end. Morphine under your tongue. You kept asking, "When will it stop hurting?" Reminded me of labor: how the contractions kept coming. I pleaded, "I can't do this." When the epidural brought relief I apologized to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
It started during winter break. A snowy day, with nightfall too soon and no playdate in sight: I said let's bake challah! Can you make it round like Rosh Hashanah? he asked. Instead I tried a six-branched spiral meant to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I studied a text recently that I wanted to bring to my shul on the Shabbat before Pesach. And then I remembered that this year on Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat right before Pesach, we'll be hosting noted culinary historian Michael... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you for seeing me and for being on this grief road with me. Sending love your way.
Toggle Commented Apr 6, 2019 on Dirty laundry at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
I hope the revisiting is helpful, or at least not hurtful. Thank you for reading and for affirming. (And I'm so sorry for your loss.)
Toggle Commented Apr 6, 2019 on Dirty laundry at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Thank you, dear Lo.
Toggle Commented Apr 6, 2019 on Dirty laundry at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Thank you, Kathryn. You are wise - grieving is different for everyone, yes. And this is how I do it. So here we are. :-)
Toggle Commented Apr 6, 2019 on Dirty laundry at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Mom, I bought a new piece of art I wish I could show you. There's a goldfinch, encircled by crocheted six-pointed stars. It makes me think of home, of nest, of tradition's weave that comforts me. I wonder if you'd... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
When I'm chastised for not focusing on happy things as you instructed shame swamps me, a sunken rowboat. Failing you again: airing in public the dirty laundry that is my heart. Why persist in feeling so many feelings, especially all... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Today a giant cardboard box arrived. Ceramic plates that once were yours, adorned with hand-drawn faces -- service for six, in theory. But inside the bubble-wrap, one plate's in pieces. You'd shrug and throw it away, but it's such an... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
At Olmos Beauty Parlor I made a dragon from foam curlers (from big red to small purple) while you tipped your head back in the shampoo chair, relaxing into the scalp massage. You went platinum blonde in the sixties. Hair... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
My phone buzzes: a text from a sibling, a photo from the last Shabbat. A wave of heat passes through, blood rushing to my face and hot tears you were still there you were alive it's unbearable again. How can... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
When you have a rabbi for a daughter sometimes you get texts from the hearse. You must have known what I was doing: reminding myself that I still had a mother, bracing against -- well, now: not being able to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi