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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 always forget how dried beans swell. They start as tiny stones in my hand but after an overnight salt water soak they fill my red bowl to overflowing. This week I revise them into posole -- it's meant to... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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Everyone I know is struggling right now. And by and large, the people in my circles have jobs; we have secure housing; we do not have COVID-19. If this year were a video game, we would be sailing through it... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I don't know anything about the artist who created this print. I found it in the San José Artisans' Market in Havana, in the last moments before our bus left the city and took us into the provinces. The art... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
A rabbinic friend of mine just had a baby, so I am sending her a copy of Waiting to Unfold, the volume of poems I wrote during my son's first year of life, published in 2013 by Phoenicia Publishing. I... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Last year's harvest; this year's beginning. This year I take comfort in every tradition I can manage. Anything I've done in years past that I might do in years to come -- those things become a lifeline. A reminder that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The streets of my small New England town are full of lawn signs. Many of them say "Black Lives Matter." Many of them promote candidates for local school committee. (That race has gotten heated, since not everyone is happy with... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I think my cat was perplexed. He has grown accustomed to me leading services from the dining room table: the laptop, my microphone, perhaps a pair of Shabbat or festival candles lit on the table beside me, lots of singing.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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"Mom, did you know that there are monks who spend months making really intricate sand mandalas and then when they're finished, they blow the sand away, because nothing lasts forever?" My son says this to me on the first morning... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Sukkot: festival of impermanence, festival of joy even in vulnerability. We build sukkot to remember our ancestors' harvest traditions; to remember the flimsy sukkot in which we dwelled after leaving Egypt; to remember the cloud of glory that protected us... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I gave my sermon "live" on Zoom in realtime, and also pre-recorded it to go live with this blog post around the time I was offering it. If you prefer to watch the sermon, it's above (and here on YouTube.)... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I gave my sermon "live" on Zoom in realtime, and also pre-recorded it to go live with this blog post around the time I was offering it. If you prefer to watch the sermon, it's above (and here on YouTube.)... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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כְּנֶ֙שֶׁר֙ יָעִ֣יר קִנּ֔וֹ עַל־גּוֹזָלָ֖יו יְרַחֵ֑ף יִפְרֹ֤שׂ כְּנָפָיו֙ יִקָּחֵ֔הוּ יִשָּׂאֵ֖הוּ עַל־אֶבְרָתֽוֹ׃ Like an eagle who rouses their nestlings, gliding down to their young, So did God spread God's wings and take [us], Bear [us] along on God's pinions. (Deut. 32:11) This... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I mentioned a while back that I wrote an extra high holiday sermon. I wrote this for Kol Nidre, and then I decided I wanted instead to offer gleanings from our trip to Cuba at Kol Nidre -- there's plenty... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I gave my sermon "live" on Zoom in realtime, and also pre-recorded this version to go live on my blog around the same time I was offering it at Zoom services. If you want to watch the video, it's embedded... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Here's a recording of my sermon if you'd rather watch it than read it. (It's here on YouTube.) Or, read below... Not quite two thousand years ago, the Roman army sacked the second Temple. That's a tough place to begin... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Silverware, soaking. It's the week before Rosh Hashanah. I have a million things to do, there's never been a High Holiday season quite like this pandemic one, and I'm... polishing silverware. Somewhere in the afterlife my mother is cheering, "Attagirl!"... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
Before Tisha b'Av, I gathered a group of liturgists to collaborate on a project that became Megillat Covid, Lamentations for this time of covid-19. In recent weeks we've gathered again -- in slightly different configuration -- to build something new... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
Every year I write an extra high holiday sermon. Not on purpose! It just happens. Every year, it seems, I write my three sermons... and then realize that one of them is predictable, or trite, or doesn't say anything new,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Last week my son and I were watching the fifth Harry Potter movie, Order of the Phoenix. There's a moment where two teenagers are kissing on a bench, and with a flick of her wand, Dolores Umbridge separates them by... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
Most years in Elul we say "the King is in the Field" -- God walks with us in the tall grass to hear our yearnings. This year, Shechinah shelters-in-place with us. With her, we don't need to mask our fears... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Five and a half months in, we're adjusting in our own ways to moving through the world (or sequestering from the world) with the constant reality of global pandemic. The masks, and the tape arrows on the grocery store floor,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I made it three verses into this week's Torah portion, Eikev, before being brought up short: "And if you do obey these rules and observe them carefully... God will ward off from you all sickness..." (Deut. 7:12, 15) My first... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I spent my Shabbat Nachamu making dilly beans. Dilly beans are pickled green beans. And they are not a food of my childhood. I didn't grow up eating home-canned vegetables. My parents were not people who gardened -- I suspect... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
I'm so glad those words reached you! I suspect the thing they chanted was from here https://yourbayit.org/megillat-covid/ - I curated five voices on the pandemic for Bayit: Building Jewish.
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One of the things we do at Bayit is share curated resources and spiritual tools for "building Jewish." Our latest is Megillat Covid -- a collection of five offerings for Tisha b'Av, written in and for this time of pandemic.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi