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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
Maybe this is part of why I'm a poet: I'm an external processor. "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" wrote EM Forster. Me too. I write my way to understanding the flow of... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
This week we’re in parashat Tetzaveh. The Torah portion takes its name from its first word, which means "You shall command." (It comes from the same root as mitzvah, commandment.) God is telling Moses to command us to kindle an... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
...By the time you're an adult, you're rare if you have any less than three or four sizable chunks gnawed off your body, mind, or soul by one trauma or another. An apparently whole-looking person is not a wizard. They... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
Lately there's been a lot in the press about Jewish ethics systems failing -- in Jewish clergy associations, day schools, summer camps and campus contexts. My friend and colleague Rabbi David Markus has written an op-ed on this subject, calling... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Velveteen Rabbi
The Torah rolls, the two trees moving from side to side in parallel, their spool of parchment unrolling from one side and rolling up on the other. There's a rhythm to rolling a Torah: stretch and pull and glide, stretch... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
This week I participated in a rabbinic retreat focusing on innovation, and it was honestly one of the best retreat experiences I've ever had. The planning committee consisted of seven Rabbis Without Borders fellows who spent the last several months... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I'm off to Pearlstone retreat center again today for a rabbinic innovation retreat co-planned by a handful of my Rabbis Without Borders hevre and Bayit: Your Jewish Home. Over the next few days we'll hang out, schmooze, learn, daven (pray),... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
You must not carry false rumors; you shall not join hands with the guilty to act as a malicious witness. (Exodus 23:1) There's a very similar instruction in the book of Vayikra (Leviticus 19:16, "don't be a talebearer.") Speaking ill... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Today I get to share with y'all something I've been working on a lot behind the scenes -- something that makes me feel proud, and humbled, and grateful. I'm writing to share First Build, the first annual report of Bayit:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I watched as a wave of sadness passed through my online sphere last week with the news of Mary Oliver's death, and I felt that sadness, too. Sadness that the poems of hers we have are now the only poems... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
You know the feeling you get when you keep putting off something you want to do because you're waiting until you have time to really do it properly, and after a while you realize that letting the perfect be the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
One of the people with whom I work in spiritual direction lives somewhere considerably colder than where I live, and they mentioned recently that it was 40 degrees below zero there. Massachusetts gets a lot colder than south Texas (where... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
In this week's Torah portion (Beshalach), the children of Israel cross the Sea of Reeds. Upon experiencing that miracle, Torah tells us, three things happened: 1) they felt yir'ah, awe, and 2) they felt emunah, faith and trust, and 3)... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I sing to God with my muchness my much-too-much-ness my awkward, oversized emotions everything over the top I sing to God with my enormous tender heart pouring out too many words even if no one reads them I sing to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you so much. Also your comment made my day, because I love your twitter (and have for some years)!
Toggle Commented Jan 12, 2019 on The gift of bread at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
On the Friday of my son's winter vacation, I was home with him doing the things we did during winter break (board games, gingerbread house, youtube videos.) I was home and I had time on my hands, so I made... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Every January there is a day when I first return to my desk after the hectic rush of December. My son is back in school. I've discharged my responsibilities to the community I serve, and today is a home-day. I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Part of a yearlong series on Torah wisdom about building and builders. In this week’s Torah portion, Bo, God instructs Moses (Ex. 12) about four practices they are to teach to the children of Israel. Encoded in these four instructions... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
וָאֵרָ֗א אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֶל־יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֖ב בְּאֵ֣ל שַׁדָּ֑י וּשְׁמִ֣י יְהוָ֔''ה לֹ֥א נוֹדַ֖עְתִּי לָהֶֽם׃ “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El-Shaddai, but My Name יהו׳׳ה I did not make known to them.” (Exodus 6:3) So what? What is Torah trying to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
Over winter break, my son and I built this gingerbread house. Out of that experience came a short essay about tradition, innovation, and what building a gingerbread bayit teaches me about building the Jewish future. And because Steve Silbert is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2019 at Velveteen Rabbi
I am reading the second essay in Cynthia Bourgeault's The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice. She is talking about the difference between the nondual, in Eastern thinking, and the unitive in Christian thinking. I am... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
...When Torah names God’s-self as “I Am Becoming What I Am Becoming,” Torah teaches us that God is infinite becoming, infinite change, the One Who Is Becoming Itself. And we who are made in the divine image (Genesis 1:27) partake... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2018 at Velveteen Rabbi
Thank you so much for reading! I've been humbled and gratified that so many of my Christian friends find resonance here.
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2018 on Jesus never ate chocolate at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Thank you so much -- these words mean a lot to me.
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2018 on Jesus never ate chocolate at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply
Thank you so much, Diane!
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2018 on Jesus never ate chocolate at Velveteen Rabbi
1 reply