Entries by Rachel Barenblat

Second Chances

Part of a yearlong Torah series about building and builders in Jewish spiritual life. Florida recently enacted a “Second Chance” law, repealing a lifetime ban on voting for 1.4 million convicted felons released from prison.  I thought about the impact on both individuals and society. While voting affirms the dignity of an individual voting also […]

The Power and Peril of Spiritual Role

Part of a yearlong Torah series on building and builders in Jewish spiritual life. As we all build the Jewish future, how sure should we be about what’s holy?  Asked that way, maybe the question answers itself: only one filled with hubris would proclaim knowing for sure what is holy. And yet, Jewish spiritual life – and […]

Coming out against hate for Shavuot

  This weekend we celebrate, with pride, G-d’s “coming out” speech – the Divine Revelation at Mt. Sinai. Our need to be seen and understood for who we are draws from that very highest of the High Truths of sacred tradition. The Jewish community and LGBTQ+ community share long experiences of being closeted, forced — in […]

Making Everyone Count

  Part of a yearlong Torah series on building and builders in Jewish spiritual life.   The book of Bamidbar (“In the Wilderness”) begins with instruction to take a census. Literally, the Hebrew instructs Moses to “Lift up the heads” of the whole community. (Well, sort of: the original instruction was to lift up the […]

Walking the Walk

  Part of a yearlong Torah series on building and builders in Jewish spiritual life.   This week’s Torah portion (Bechukotai) lists “blessings” and “curses,” “rewards” and “punishments.”  If we honor the mitzvot, Torah says, then “blessings” will flow.  If not, then we sign up for “curses.” This ancient theology may not necessarily hold up […]

One Standard for Everyone

  Part of a yearlong Torah series on building and builders in Jewish spiritual life.   In this week’s Torah portion, Emor, we read, “You shall have one standard for stranger and citizen alike: I, Adonai, am your God.” (Lev. 24:21) I can’t think of a better guideline for building. One standard for everyone, whether […]