Three Torah poems offered at my smicha
Three scenes from the day of my smicha

Announcing 70 Faces


I have awesome news! As of yesterday, I became a rabbi -- and Seventy Faces, my collection of Torah poems, has been published by Phoenicia Publishing, an independent press based in Montreal. Here's what the back of the book has to say:

Each of the poems in 70 Faces arose in conversation with the Five Books of Moses. These poems interrogate, explore, and lovingly respond to Torah texts -- the uplifting parts alongside the passages which may challenge contemporary liberal theology. Here are responses to the familiar tales of Genesis, the liberation story of Exodus, the priestly details of Leviticus, the desert wisdom of Numbers, and the anticipation of Deuteronomy. These poems balance feminism with respect for classical traditions of interpretation. They enrich any (re)reading of the Bible, and will inspire readers to their own new responses to these familiar texts.

Poet Alicia Ostriker, blogger and pastor Gordon Atkinson (a.k.a Real Live Preacher), and Rabbi Shefa Gold have kindly lent their praises to the collection:

"These poems are so out there, so radical, and at the same time so gentle and inviting. Barenblat manages to do work that has passion and truth behind it, without ranting. I love the simple and confident way she deals with the akedah -- and I love the final poem in this collection -- gliding right past heartbreak into renewal, which is what her poems all seem to do." -- Alicia Ostriker, author of For the Love of God: the Bible as an Open Book and The Book of Seventy

"In the poetry of 70 Faces, Rachel Barenblat continues the work of translation and commentary that has occupied her for years as the Velveteen Rabbi. She is as young as our century and as old as Judaism. Her poems have the classic cadence of the scriptures and the fresh wonder of a new mother. These are old words for the modern mind. This is ancient wisdom we can feel and know." -- Pastor Gordon Atkinson, author of and Turtles All The Way Down

"Rachel Barenblat's Torah poems open the doorway into sacred text so that we can walk in and make it our home. She invites us to bring all of our passion, doubt, humor, humility and chutzpah as we encounter these ancient words and bring them to Life. Through Rachel's skillful, joyful, playful and profound poetry, the Torah opens her secrets to us and invites us into an intimate conversation with Truth." -- Rabbi Shefa Gold, author of Torah Journeys and In the Fever of Love: an Illumination of the Song of Songs

And now you can buy it online for a mere $14!

Here's the page about the book at the publisher's website. (Click on the book cover there to view a preview of the first few pages, and to listen to me reading the first few poems in the book aloud.)
Here's the link where you can buy the book directly from the publisher.
And here's the link where you can buy it at Amazon. (More money goes to Phoenicia Publishing if you buy it through Phoenicia, but I understand that Amazon makes life easy; do what works for you.) Berkshire locals will be able to buy copies soon at Papyri Books and Water Street Books in Williamstown; it's also going to be available at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center's bookstore.

Some of you read early drafts of these poems here during the couple of years when when I was posting Torah poems each week. Several of you asked whether they would ever be available in book form. And now they are! I'm ridiculously excited.

I'll be doing events to promote the book in a variety of locations around New England and south Texas as the year unfolds. (Right now I've got readings and workshops lined up in Berkshire County and in San Antonio; others are in-progress. I'll keep y'all posted.) Anyway: I wanted to share my joy with all of y'all, and I hope you will choose to pick up a copy of the book -- and, if you like it, to share it with your Bible study groups, your Torah study chevre, your poetry students and friends, and anyone else you think might dig it too.