Rabbi and Spiritual Director
Hello and welcome to my website! I'm Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, known sometimes as Reb Rachel and also as The Velveteen Rabbi, which is my nom de blog since 2003. I was ordained as a rabbi by ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal in 2011. In 2012, I received a second ordination from ALEPH as a mashpi'ah (spiritual director.)
I'm blessed to serve Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, MA, as their rabbi. We're a friendly, intimate congregation of about 100 member-families. If you're in the area, please do visit.
I'm excited about ecumenical work, both within Judaism (in 2012 I was chosen as a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow by RWB/CLAL) and outside of it (in 2006 I co-founded the first and only conference for bloggers of progressive faith across the faith spectrum; in 2009 I participated in a retreat for Emerging Jewish and Muslim Religious Leaders, and in 2014 served as an alumna facilitator there .)
Since 2000 I've been creating bespoke lifecycle rituals: babynamings, weddings, funerals. I also write prayers for a variety of purposes and occasions. (You can find many of them at the Ceremony Archive.)
I'm the creator of The Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah for Pesach, which has been used around the world. The VR Haggadah (newest edition is version 8, 2014) features contemporary poetry and a Jewish Renewal sensibility. New in 2014: I'm also the primary creator of Days of Awe: the Velveteen Rabbi's Machzor for the Yamim Nora'im.
My first book-length collection of poems, which arises out of conversation with Torah, was published in 2011, on the day I was ordained a rabbi:
70 faces, a collection of Torah poems (2011).
(Learn more at the Books page.)