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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 scent of this covid year: sour scallion-water in the kitchen window, the tail-ends of green onions trying to miracle fresh green from tap water and sun. When it catches in my throat I choke, then remember if my sense... Continue reading
Posted 3 hours ago at Velveteen Rabbi
"I don't know why everything is so hard," you say to me. Everyone's hitting the wall, I point out. We're reaching one year of global pandemic. Even if we're okay, it's okay with an asterisk. Okay within global pandemic parameters.... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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"וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃ / Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell within them." (Ex. 25:8 - in this week's Torah portion, T'rumah.) The word mishkan (the portable dwelling-place for God) shares a root with the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
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I am making enchiladas for dinner. The recipe I use didn't come with me from Texas, but it could have. There's a Tex-Mex chili gravy (red enchilada sauce) made with a light roux, a ton of hot chili powder, some... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
Purim is almost upon us -- the last Jewish holiday that most of us celebrated in person last year, before the pandemic started keeping us apart. It's a tough anniversary. A year since we started staying apart to protect each... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
Things I cannot fix, an incomplete list: armed militias. Global pandemic. The grief of staying apart and unbearable yearning. Rage at insurrectionists and anti-maskers. Things I can fix: lunch for my child. This winter stew, meat from the freezer and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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The turntable had been my sister's before it became mine. In my memory it is black and white and sleek, standing on one foot like a cross between a mushroom and a flying saucer, with a smoky dark plexiglass lid... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I copied the recipe off of a card I got at Zingerman's. It's for fettucine with tuna, white wine, and green peppercorns. I don't always have a bulb of fennel on hand, nor for that matter fettucine, but but oil-packed... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Torah portion, Beshalach, we read the Song at the Sea. "I will sing to God..." Our commentators note that this verse is in future tense: not "I sing," but "I will sing." Hold on to that; we'll... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Trees in winter. I only see a few people in person. Is it still correct to call us a pod when there's no formal quarantine? Whatever we're called, we are few in number. Over the summer I saw a few... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I met Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan when I was in rabbinical school, where she was one of my professors. These days I am honored to call her a colleague and friend. She recently visited my shul (via Zoom, of course)... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Out for "frozen hot chocolate" with my dad, the year we lived in New York city. The year I was in fifth grade was the year my parents and I lived in New York city. One of my brothers stayed... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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My appointment was at 3pm at a church in North Adams. I've driven by it a million times but wasn't sure how to get in or which door would be open, so I arrived early. A masked volunteer from the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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In this week's Torah portion, Va'era, God hears the cries of the Israelites and promises to free us from bondage. But when Moshe comes to the children of Israel to tell them that, Torah says: וְלֹ֤א שָֽׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה מִקֹּ֣צֶר ר֔וּחַ... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
The lake has frozen. Ice fishermen scatter, tiny dark figures making their way across its flat white expanse. My heart pounds gunfire in my chest. If the ice breaks there is no one to call. I drove past a frozen... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
What I can count on, when democracy might be dying at the hands of white men and women waving Confederate flags, wearing Camp Auschwitz shirts, brandishing zip ties: the havdalah candle's sizzle, plunged into wine; the scent of shankbones, simmering;... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
It is rare to know that we are living through a moment of genuine historical significance. To recognize that something unfolding around us will be chronicled in books as a turning point of some kind, though we can’t yet know... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Later this month I'll begin teaching a class at the Academy for Jewish Religion (NY). It's part of their Sacred Arts program, and will interweave text study (Tanakh, liturgy, psalms, prophets, lifecycle) with creative writing. The syllabus was due to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2021 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I glance at the headlines. The pandemic is worsening, as everyone said it would do come wintertime, and yet air travel hit a record high for the winter holidays. I can't make sense of that juxtaposition. I mean, I can;... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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I heard that President Obama's memoir had to be printed in Germany because there is a paper shortage in the United States. The paper shortage is because we've been using so much cardboard to make so many more shipping boxes... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
I curl my fingers into the thatch inside the hollow. Out come seeds little teardrops slippery and pale. As they fall the china bowl rings like a bell. These shortest days of the year are always a struggle for me.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
Once I compared daily prayer to a chat window open with God all the time. That was before. Now the chat windows where I text, the Zoom windows where we meet, are as fervent as prayer: the only way we... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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Twigs in December. When the pandemic started, I stopped getting allergy shots. I didn't want to go into the allergist's office, and besides, back in March I thought (naïvely) that we would defeat the pandemic with a few months of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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This difficult December we need all the beauty and whimsy we can find. I pull the box of Chanukah things out from under my bed. Its corners bear tufts of cat fur from where the cat has been using it... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi
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At the start of this week's Torah portion, we read that Jacob was afraid, and his fear was constricting. He was afraid that Esau would come after him, that the mistakes he made in that relationship earlier in life would... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2020 at Velveteen Rabbi