Entries by Rachel Barenblat

#MenschUp with Ushpizin

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 sefirot,” the qualities we share with our Creator that we cultivate each year during the […]

Mission Statement: Listen. Remember. Connect. Build.

  Part of a yearlong Torah series on building and builders in Jewish spiritual life.   In Ha’azinu, Moses gives his final oration. At the beginning of his story he called himself a person of uncircumcised lips or impeded speech, (Ex. 6:30) but here he’s eloquent, pouring forth an impassioned mission statement for the children […]

Haggadah for Sukkot

Holding a seder at Pesach is a familiar tradition. But why not also hold a seder at Sukkot — surrounded by the beauty of the sukkah, exploring the holiday’s symbols and themes? This haggadah for Sukkot, co-created with Beth Kaufman Miller, is designed for use at home or in a synagogue setting. Using familiar tools […]

Keystones: Great for Buildings, But Not for Relationships

Part of a yearlong Torah series on building and builders in Jewish spiritual life.   Vayeilech continues Moses’ final speech to the children of Israel, encamped on the banks of the Jordan, preparing to enter the Land of Promise. Three times over the course of the parsha, Torah instructs us to share this teaching (this […]

Red thread ritual for Yom Kippur

This ritual seeks to connect us with atonement and make us aware of our interconnectedness. The only required element is red thread, cut into discrete lengths (a foot long, all the same length) handed out at the start of the ritual. The ritual begins with a short teaching about the red thread, followed by an […]

Using stones for Yizkor

This ritual seeks to connect the Yizkor prayers, recited four times a year, with an embodied experience of memory and connection. The only required element is a basket of stones — smooth river-washed stones are available at landscaping supply stores — which are handed out during the service. The central act is placing the stones […]

Everyone Needs a Break

  Part of a yearlong Torah series on building and builders in Jewish spiritual life.   This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, begins with a set of instructions for when we enter the Land of Promise. Torah tells us to take our first fruits to a special place, tell a ritualized story, articulate gratitude for […]

Every Building Needs a Fence 

  Part of a yearlong Torah series on building and builders in Jewish spiritual life.   In Ki Tetze, Torah says, “When you build a new house, make a railing for your upper story, so that blood-guilt not be held against your house should somebody fall from it.” (Deut. 22:8) What a powerful building instruction: […]