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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
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1. What do I know? How on earth can I write, as an outsider, about the beautiful, wrenching, poignant, powerful experience of nine days on a religious mission to Cuba? The kaleidoscope of Cuba keeps turning, and every time it... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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This is the final part of a nine-part essay about my first trip to Cuba. 9. Coming home What can I bring home to my own Jewish community from Cuba? I want to bring home an awareness of how lucky... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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This essay will be posted in nine parts. Once it's all online, I'll also share it as a whole essay for those who prefer to read it in one sitting. This is part eight. 8. Miracles in Camagüey Our final... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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This essay will be posted in nine parts. Once it's all online, I'll also share it as a whole essay for those who prefer to read it in one sitting. This is part seven. 7. Cognitive dissonance Once we leave... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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This essay will be posted in nine parts. Once it's all online, I'll also share it as a whole essay for those who prefer to read it in one sitting. This is part six. 6. Holy spirit Our next stop... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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This essay will be posted in nine parts. Once it's all online, I'll also share it as a whole essay for those who prefer to read it in one sitting. This is part five. 5. Tourism and syncretism We are... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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This essay will be posted in nine parts. Once it's all online, I'll also share it as a whole essay for those who prefer to read it in one sitting. This is part four. 4. A heart afire Some who... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This essay will be posted in nine parts. Once it's all online, I'll also share it as a whole essay for those who prefer to read it in one sitting. This is part three. 3. Haves and have-nots Our group... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This essay will be posted in nine parts. Once it's all online, I'll also share it as a whole essay for those who prefer to read it in one sitting. This is part two. 2. The things we carry Everywhere... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This essay will be posted in nine parts. This is the first part; I'll share the others in coming days. Once it's all online, I'll also share it as a whole essay for those who prefer to read it in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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By the time we reach the end of the Jewish holiday season, I'm always tapped-out. Exhausted b'chol olamot, in all the worlds (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual). The holiday season is a marathon. The workload is significant. And while I'm trying... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In one of his teachings on Sukkot, the Hasidic master known as the Sfat Emet writes: This is wholeness: a person with a broken heart... and in every place that God dwells, there is wholeness. God makes every incompleteness whole.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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What qualities do you want to bring into your sukkah this year? Here's a download that features a classical set of Jewish values: lovingkindness, boundaries, balance, perseverance, humility, rootedness, nobility. (You might recognize those seven qualities as the "seven lower... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Oh, Wendy, this is so wonderful to hear. Thank you for sharing this. I am so glad you are feeling strengthened today. Thank you for being a part of our community - I am so grateful!
Toggle Commented Oct 10, 2019 on The day after at Velveteen Rabbi
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It's the day after Yom Kippur. If you're feeling overwhelmed, strangely emotional, thin-skinned, like the hustle and bustle and injustice of the world is more than you can bear today, you're not alone. Some people call this a vulnerability hangover.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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A few days before my mother died, I sat by her bedside with my phone in my hand. It had been a tough morning. Even with the oxygen cannula in her nose she had struggled to breathe. She was anxious... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Ordinarily on Kol Nidre night I speak about forgiving the vows we've broken to ourselves and to God. (Broken vows made to each other require not only an apology and teshuvah, but also reparations -- making amends for any harm... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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It's Shabbat Shuvah -- the Shabbat of Return. The Shabbat of turning and returning, in this season of turning and returning. "Return again, return again, return to the land of your soul." What kind of return does your soul yearn... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In 1939, my mother, of blessed memory, emigrated to the United States on the SS President Harding. She was three years old. She and her family made it out because her father, my grandfather, had an American birth certificate. He... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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We're almost done with our year of reading Torah through a building-focused lens at Builders Blog. I wrote this week's post -- beautifully sketchnoted, as always, by Steve Silbert -- arising out of parashat Vayeilech. I found two lessons, and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
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My voice teacher this summer, Rabbi Minna Bromberg, begins all of our lessons the same way. She walks me through grounding myself: feet on the floor, crown toward the sky, strong back, soft belly. The body is a connector between... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Mom, I'm on my mirpesset on the first day of fall. You loved that word -- a little taste of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Two of the zinnias my son planted last spring have sent up new buds, like dancers... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Tonight many synagogues will hold Selichot services -- an evening liturgy that usually includes prayers, piyyutim (poems), and some of the musical liturgy of the Days of Awe. At my shul, Selichot services are a first opportunity to immerse ourselves... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you so much for this comment -- and for reading this sermon; I'm honored that you took the time to do so, especially davka now!
1 reply
Suddenly the two stately trees outside my window are shot through with sprays of gold. My heart rails against the turning season like a child resisting bedtime, but the trees hear the shofar's call. Come alive, flare up, be who... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi