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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
R. Alan, Of course -- agreed on all fronts. The post on which you're commenting here was written fourteen years ago, during my first year of rabbinical school. I was a different darshanit and the world was a different place. Keep an eye out for R' David Markus' post for the AJR faculty blog this week, which I think is very much what the current moment demands. - R' Rachel
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Small bamboo stakes with tiny flags on them were placed six feet apart, all along the north side of route two, from First Congregational Church to Thompson Memorial Chapel. We gathered with our signs, each person or household to a... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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I wrote the following for my congregation. I share it here in case it's helpful to you too. Today has been declared a National Day of Mourning and Lament. And oh, there is so much to mourn. Right now we're... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
I struggle to find words right now. The virus has stolen life and breath from so many. Systemic racism has stolen life and breath from so many more. What words could be equal to the murder of George Floyd? To... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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Havurah Shir Hadash invites all to join their very first live-streaming Shabbaton on June 12 and 13th with Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Rabbi David Markus, celebrating spiritual connectivity in the legacy of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1924-2014), pathfinder and futurist for... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
The enemy could be anywhere. The tiny spiky mace that liquefies the lungs and clots the vessels in the brain -- could be on a door handle or a package or a light switch or lingering in the air. Going... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
But I, through Your abundant love, enter Your house... (Ps. 5:8) I enter your house before sleep, lying among sheets not yet tangled in the anteroom I wonder whether I'll hear your voice right away feel the blush rise in... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The Israelites shall camp each with his standard, under the banners of their ancestral house; they shall camp around the Tent of Meeting at a distance. (Numbers 2:2) Tn this week's Torah portion, Bamidbar, we read how the twelve tribes... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
One of the most extraordinary things in the world, for me as a writer who is also a singer, is hearing my own words set to music. The music transforms and uplifts the words, and the end result is a... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
Newspapers overflow with empty words from men who value money more than lives while bodies stack up faster than we can bury and doctors and nurses reuse protective gear and each solitary death, lungs filling with water in a negative... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
Happy is the one who sifts the detritus of the crisper and from a third of a cabbage, a wilted carrot and half a cup of sourdough discard assembles okonomiyaki, who grows new scallions from the stumps of the old... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
I recorded this short video for my community to share with them before Shabbat. I'm sharing it here as well, in case it speaks to any of you. And if you'd prefer to read it, rather than viewing it, the... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Scallion-ends growing new shoots. Some days feel almost normal. Especially Sundays when I'm doing laundry, or planning what to cook, or sitting on my mirpesset watching the sky. Those are all things I routinely did before the pandemic. Baking challah... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This week we're reading Acharei Mot-Kedoshim. Acharei mot means after the deaths. After the deaths of Aaron's two sons, we read, vayidom Aharon: and Aaron was silent. That's resonating with me in a new way this year. After the deaths... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I said to my therapist recently (over FaceTime, of course; everything is mediated by screens now) that this moment in time reminds me a lot of the months right after my strokes. When I felt fine, and probably was fine,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
The good news is, my son and I aren't sick. He's ten. He learned to sew to make a mask. I bargain, "only keep my loved ones safe --" A can of Clorox wipes: better than gold. He's ten. He... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In these first six weeks of the pandemic, I've been teaching a psalm-writing workshop for my shul and a friend's shul together, and a member of my community who's a rabbi has been taking the class. After the first week,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
I recorded a short video teaching for my congregation, and thought I would share it here too. It begins with a check-in and then moves to a teaching from the rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto for this week's parsha that... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
A d'varling for the end of week five of covid-19 sheltering-in-place. As we leave Pesach behind we set out into the wilderness, trusting that somehow we're moving toward Sinai, toward revelation, toward connection. The spiritual practice of counting the Omer... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
At the start of the dream I float down the Guadalupe but the current goes backwards. I emerge into a house from 1985, and inside there you are: hair pulled back into a casual ponytail, white terrycloth coverup as though... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
Furled tufts of red pop at the tip of every maple branch bright against a clouded sky. I know there's blue stretching above that white ceiling even when I can't see it, I know beyond our thin atmosphere we're cradled... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The tree outside my front door, on a blue-sky day earlier this week. It's been four weeks since life stopped feeling normal. On good-weather days, I leave the house to take walks with my kid. Every so often I leave... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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For those who can't read images, or who want to copy-and-paste- a transcription: How is this night the same as other Passovers in the past or in the imagined future? What does it mean to experience an Exodus from the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This is going to be a Passover unlike any other. I wrote a long paragraph of reasons why that is so, and then I deleted them. You are living in this world too. You don't need me to tell you... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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As this week began I studied a text from the Piaceczyner, aka the Aish Kodesh, aka R' Kalman Kalonymus Shapiro, the rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto. He teaches that as human beings, when we feel one another's pain -- when... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi