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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
There's a feeling that sometimes comes with grief: how can the world be functioning normally when I am feeling this? I've heard it from others many times. I've felt it myself many times, too. How can the world just keep... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Velveteen Rabbi
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It's the day after the midterm elections. It feels a little bit like the day after all of the fall holidays are complete. I always come out of the high holiday season feeling some combination of exhilarated and grateful, and... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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When I arrived at my shul on Shabbat morning, it was covered with graffiti. Not the kind of hateful graffiti that's been cropping up at synagogues around the nation in recent days: rather, signs, cards, and messages of love and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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One of the coolest things about the parshanut (Torah commentary) series we're doing at Builder's Blog (a project of Bayit: Your Jewish Home) is that our friend, colleague, and fellow builder Steve Silbert is sketchnoting each week's d'dvar Torah. Each... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Sarah's lifetime -- the span of Sarah's life -- came to one hundred and twenty-seven years. That's the first line of this week's Torah portion, Chayyei Sarah, which means The Life of Sarah, or perhaps The Lives of Sarah. It's... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I'm a relatively new listener to Imaginary Worlds, a podcast about science fiction and speculative fiction and fantasy. But I've become a fan in recent weeks, which is especially delightful because I had the opportunity to be a guest on... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This month marks fifteen years since I started blogging. I'm not alone in that milestone; I am blessed to have made several friends in early blogging days who are still blogging even now, and whose creative and literary lives continue... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
"But why did he do it?" my son asks me this morning in the car on the way to school. "It couldn't be just because he hates Jewish people." "Some people hate anything that's different from them," I say, carefully,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
On Friday, I stood with friends and children, townspeople and college students, on the town green. We were holding up signs that said things like "Trans people matter" and "trans rights are human rights." Some of our signs were painted... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
The president has been ranting about globalists. I did some research into why the "globalist" label is considered anti-semitic, and what it means to be a globalist, anyway. And then I wrote an essay for the Forward, and here's a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
When Moshe ascended to heaven, he saw the Holy One of Blessing writing the words of a Torah scroll as does a soferet, with quill and gall-nut ink, and painstakingly adding filligree and crowns to the letters. Moshe asked the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
The syllables of your name light me like a chanukiyah I spill over, a brimming cup. It's more than I can say: more than all the prayers and songs, poems and letters posts and status updates than are made in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
For a cascade of kittens making improbable leaps. For tiny feet ascending my shoulders. For their language of mews and rumbly purrs. For paws opening and closing. kneading invisible dough. For short pointy tails and radar-dish ears. For all of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
I wrote a post for the About Bayit series on Builders Blog, about one of the facets of who we are, our spiritual differences and why they matter to us. Here's a taste: ...The organization’s founders have roots in, and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Last night I made the mistake of checking Twitter before bed, and saw tweets from the president and from his lawyer blaming George Soros for ostensibly paying people to protest the Kavanaugh nomination. The tweets suggested that Soros is evil... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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" וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם אֶחָֽד / And there was evening, and there was morning: a first day." (Genesis 1:5) This poetic account of the beginnings of creation -- from the first verses of Bereshit, the opening of the Torah that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Next week I'm heading to Oberlin College for a whirlwind one-day visit that will include a lunch with Oberlin College Hillel, an afternoon psalm-writing workshop, and a poetry reading. All three of these are taking place on Tuesday, October 9.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
1. Such abundance! Sunlight streaming golden as chicken soup, rain that comes in its season, profusion of produce at the farmer's market, the way our hearts spill over when we see someone we love, the way Your heart flows to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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We’re all stardust, re-mixed chemical elements forged in some distant supernova. We’re all broken shards, fallen from the primordial shattering. We’re all reflected light, glimmering with the Source of Light. We’re all builders, making and re-making the world one brick... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I got a new sukkah this year. A simple white metal frame. Three canvas walls with windows in them. Cornstalks overhead, twined with autumnal garlands. In the mornings, when it is not raining, I sit here and watch the morning... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Backwards compatibility is a term we've borrowed from Reb Zalman z"l, who used the term (borrowed in turn from computers and software) to mean ensuring that when we innovate and when we renew Judaism into new forms, we also need to ensure that what we're doing is "compatible" with what came before.
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...It’s not only “do it yourself” (DIY) Judaism, but that there’s no other Judaism except DIY. The Jewish call is the call to do. “All” are called to “make” Shabbat (Ex. 31:16); same for tzitzit (Num. 15:38); same for a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This post may be triggering for survivors of rape and sexual abuse. If that is you, please guard your boundaries carefully. So many of the women I know -- my friends, my loved ones, my congregants, my colleagues -- are... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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A few weeks ago, while the Al and Frances Small Memorial Labyrinth was still under construction, my eight year old son was with me at synagogue and ran outside to explore it. He immediately wanted to walk its spiraling path.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This is not my beautiful sermon. (Do you know that Talking Heads song? "You may ask yourself, how did I get here? ... You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife." Well:... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi