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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 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 4 days ago 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 5 days ago 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
One of the verses in this week's Torah portion, Bechukotai, says that if we walk in God's ways and keep the mitzvot, we will find ourselves in a position where we need to clear out the old grain to make... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I got a pedicure the day you died. I was numb and shocky, couldn’t bear to bury you without looking as good as I knew you'd have wanted me to be. In the chair I blurted out, "I'm going to... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
...Actions and choices have consequences. Spiritual building isn’t about “deserving,” but about wisely preparing for the immense power of consequences. What we do matters. How we act matters. How we treat each other matters. They shape who we are. How... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
It's a simple circle of pink coral, set mid-century modern in silver and gold. There's a spiral of tape on the bottom, wound around and around to shrink the band. Most of your rings had that, artifact of fingers growing... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
After your mother died you used to visit her on her birthday with flowers, Texas yellow roses you'd leave on her grave. Were they her favorite or just local color? I wish I'd asked. You loved peonies best: their big,... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Apologies, there seems to be a typo here; that's from PIrkei Avot 2:9.
1 reply
There’s a story about three umpires discussing their trade. Maybe you’ve heard it. There are these three umpires, and they’re each bragging a little bit, showing off. They’re each claiming to be the best at what they do. The first... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
"These are not great times to be a woman in America," wrote Jennifer Wright in Harper's Bazaar. "At least, not if you are a woman who believes your body is your own." (She wrote those words two years ago. Now... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
This coming weekend, Rabbi David Markus and I will be Halpern Scholars-In-Residence at Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, New York. I'm looking so forward to co-leading services on Friday night and Saturday morning, to sharing melodies and Torah and learning... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
It's a year of firsts and most of them hurt. Hallmark doesn't sell a card designed to be burned so smoke can ascend to reach the afterlife. And why didn't I save every card you ever sent me so I... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
"Y'all shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy." (Lev. 19:2) That's the first line of this week's Torah portion, Kedoshim -- "Holy (Shall You Be)." But what does it mean to be holy as God is holy?... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I studied the most gorgeous text this morning from the Netivot Shalom (also known as the Slonimer, a.k.a. Rabbi Shalom Noach Berezovsky). It's on the verse קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ / kedoshim tihiyu, "y'all shall be holy." The Slonimer teaches: the way... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
"God spoke to Moses after the death..." Those are the first words of this week's Torah portion, Acharei Mot. God speaks to Moses after the death of Aaron's two sons, and gives instructions on how to be safe, and how... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
This week I'm at a Benedictine retreat center in Schuyler, Nebraska, teaching at the Nebraska Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation. Being here has been an extraordinary gift. Getting to share facets of my beloved religious tradition with ardent spiritual... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Peter, the last line of your comment makes me think that I have not communicated what I intended to with this poem. I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter. May you be comforted along with all who mourn.
Toggle Commented May 1, 2019 on I don't mind at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply