Homeless
Velveteen Rabbi
by
12h ago
Bearing hatred is exhausting. So is the constant vigilance of wondering who's going to attack next, and from which side. Of course, I have the luxury of meaning that metaphorically.  In some spaces Jews like me feel unwelcome because we insist on empathy for Palestinians. Self-hating Jew. Why don’t you care about your own people? What about October 7? (Do you somehow imagine we haven’t been gutted with grief for the inhabitants of Kibbutz Nir Oz, Kibbutz Beeri, the massacred, the slaughtered, the raped, the kidnapped, the hostages?) In some spaces Jews like me feel unwelcome because we i ..read more
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Getting Ready: Pre-Pesach 5784
Velveteen Rabbi
by
1w ago
On Monday a group gathered at CBI for the eclipse. When we were down to a thin golden crescent of sun, the light became bronzed and strange. The spring peepers were loudly singing their twilight song, the one we hear at seder when we open the door to recite, “This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt…” When the sun began to grow, the peepers all stopped singing in the same instant, as if hushed by a celestial conductor. The morning after the eclipse was Rosh Hodesh Nisan, the start of a new lunar month -- just two weeks until Pesach. Rosh Hodesh Nisan is on ..read more
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Symbols
Velveteen Rabbi
by
2w ago
  Symbols, This Year The shankbone is for houses across Israel and Gaza where the Angel of Death has not passed over. Maror for the hot tearful bitter sharp pain of hostages held underground and children imprisoned. Haroset, for mortar: Gaza bombed to rubble.  The egg is roasted like charred kibbutz walls.  Everything is dipped in tears like the sea that closed  when God rebuked, "My children die, and you sing praises?" Matzah: cracker of liberation and affliction. (Gazans approaching starvation know only one of these.) There’s no place on the seder plate for ambivalence ..read more
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New poetry, liturgy, and art for Pesach
Velveteen Rabbi
by
2w ago
How do we celebrate Pesach in a year like this one? Everything about the seder lands differently after the last six months. This offering emerges out of grief and hope. No two pieces are coming from exactly the same place. There are so many emotions — even within a single heart, much less around any given seder table. On behalf of my co-creators at Bayit, I hope these prayers, poems, and works of art will help you make this Pesach what you need it to be. Click through for This Broken Matzah, available as a downloadable chapbook / PDF of liturgical poetry and art, or as google slides suit ..read more
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Star
Velveteen Rabbi
by
3w ago
Last night my eighth grader began reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and he paused to ask if I have ever read it. I read it for the first time in fifth grade. Probably too young, but my grandparents and mother fled Prague in 1939; I knew this history already. "It's probably the first reason I started keeping a diary," I told him. "I just got to the part where it says everyone who was Jewish was required to wear a yellow six-pointed star." "Did you not know that?" I asked, as gently as I could. He shook his head no. "Do you remember that at Nonni and Papa's house, there was one of those stars, in ..read more
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Restoring the Name: Shabbat Zachor 5784 / 2024
Velveteen Rabbi
by
1M ago
Most of Megillat Esther reads like a soap opera, full of banquets and beauty pageants and assassination plots and nemeses. There’s a theme of topsy-turviness. Haman is hung on the very gallows he had built for Mordechai, and instead of being slaughtered the Jews of Persia prosper, and we all live happily ever after. But there’s one part of the turn-about that we don’t typically act out in our Purim play. In chapter 9, the Jews slaughter 75,000 Persians. The context is this: although Haman himself has been defeated, the King had issued a decree saying that on the 13th of Adar Persians were wel ..read more
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(Do we know) How to heal
Velveteen Rabbi
by
1M ago
"We are facing a watershed moment where healing from trauma is a generational call. How will we answer it? Will we reproduce old patterns of divide-and-conquer, especially in the face of rising tides of mental health crises and climate change? Or will we re-member and reenvision our interdependence and flow toward collective transformation? The answers, and new questions, are up to us." -- Jen Soriano, Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing A friend recommended Soriano's book to me as I began to grapple with the trauma I carry as the daughter of someone who fled the Holocaust. The book is ..read more
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Waves
Velveteen Rabbi
by
1M ago
How to be universally loathed: insist on not hating. Cling to driftwood in the ocean of despair. God is here, too. The word dehumanization does not belong in poetry. Some think we're holding the gun, others think we're in the crosshairs. The waves bring our words back. We're using the same sounds but they mean something different in different mouths.       ..read more
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Not Heat, But Light: Vayak'hel 5784 / 2024
Velveteen Rabbi
by
1M ago
This week’s Torah portion, Vayak’hel, begins: “וַיַּקְהֵ֣ל מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֶֽת־כּל־עֲדַ֛ת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל / Moses convened the whole community of the children of Israel…” The word I’m translating here as “convened” is vayak’hel. It’s the same root as the word kahal, community. Moses communified the community. He called the community into being by bringing the people together. In the wake of the the Gaza ceasefire resolution recently proposed in Williamstown, I’ve had a lot of conversations in the last few weeks with members of the CBI community about whether we feel like one Jewish community, an ..read more
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If we will it: a note on Gaza and Israel
Velveteen Rabbi
by
1M ago
I usually don't cross-post here to share my "From the Rabbi" columns written for the shul's monthly newsletter. This one is an exception.   Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends, As a rabbi I am here to serve everyone in our community. I aspire to be here for you in sickness and in health, in celebration and in sorrow. I have the holy opportunity to learn and to teach, to rejoice and to mourn, and to build community with each and every one of you. I take this covenant seriously, and it is one of the things I love most about the work that I am blessed to do. I will always striv ..read more
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