Answers to good questions
The nighttime wrestle - a pearl of Torah for Vayishlach

Ten-plus years of Velveteen Rabbi

Blogiversary1Whoops! I missed my tenth blogiversary.

It was sometime in October. I meant to make a post celebrating ten years of Velveteen Rabbi, and I just...forgot. Maybe that's appropriate, since I'm not sure what day I actually started. (This blog was briefly hosted at blogspot, and then I discovered that blogspot didn't have commenting capability built in -- and what's the point of a blog with no conversation? -- so I moved to TypePad, copied my first few posts to their new home, and have been here ever since.)

The simple fact that I've spent ten years writing regularly feels like a victory. I remember hearing, at the end of my MFA journey at Bennington, that many MFA grads are no longer writing by ten years after the completion of their programs. I'm proud to be able to say that fourteen years after I got my MFA, I'm still writing poetry regularly -- and still reviewing books regularly -- and still engaging in the writing life as a daily and weekly practice. This blog has surely been a big part of that.

Many of the blogs I remember reading when I first got started have gone dark or defunct, succumbed to linkrot, or disappeared entirely. Beth Adams' The Cassandra Pages is a notable exception. So is Dave Bonta's Via Negativa. Dale Favier's mole was around back then, and is still vibrant. Lorianne DiSabato's Hoarded Ordinaries is still going strong. I know that Rabbi Josh Yuter of YUtopia celebrated his tenth blogiversary a while back, as well. (And, of course, my husband Ethan Zuckerman's My Heart's In Accra is still wonderful. Come to think of it, I should thank him for suggesting that I start a blog all those years ago. Thanks, sweetie.) It's a perennial delight to me that I've made so many enduring friends through this medium of curated self-revelation and correspondence, and that those friendships persist both online and offline.

When I started this blog, I yearned to "run and play with the real rabbis" -- hence the blog's name and original tagline. (Which, as I noted in my very first post, was borrowed with permission from cartoonist Jennifer Berman and her wonderful "Velveteen Rabbi" cartoon.) Over the years of this blog's existence, I applied to rabbinic school -- was accepted -- began my formal studies -- posted endlessly about the things I was learning, liturgy and Hasidut and Jewish history and on and on -- and after nearly six years of hard work, made it to ordination. Many of you accompanied me on that journey.

When I set off to spend my summer in Israel, I blogged about it here, and I posted frequently about my adventures both challenging and sweet. That was 2008, the same year that TIME named VR as one of the top 25 sites on the internet. I also blogged here when I had my strokes. And when I put forth my chapbook of miscarriage poems. And when our son was born. I posted a few years' worth of weekly Torah poems here, which later coalesced into my first book, 70 faces: Torah poems (Phoenicia 2011.) I posted a full year of weekly mother poems here, which later coalesced into my second book, Waiting to Unfold (Phoenicia 2013.)

I didn't use categories to sort my posts when I started out (instead I used Technorati tags -- remember those?), but I started to do so pretty soon. My tag cloud tells me that the things I post about most frequently are Torah and poetry; community, prayer, and the daily round are the next on the list. That sounds about right. I've made 2,452 posts (so far) and hosted 10,880 comments. (Not bad.)

I've heard a lot of people say that the golden era of blogs has passed, giving way to Twitter and Facebook and instagram and other forms of bite-sized, mobile-phone-accessible communication. People don't have the patience to read long-form blog posts anymore, nor to enter into sustained conversations in the comments sections. Today's internet isn't interested in the substantive or nuanced -- at least, that's how the conventional wisdom goes. That may be true, by and large. But some of us are still writing, and still reading, and still conversing. Maybe long-form blogs are like poetry: not everyone's cup of tea, requiring as they do a fair amount of focus and attention, but endlessly rewarding for those who choose to take part.

Thanks, everyone, for being a part of Velveteen Rabbi for the last ten years and a bit. Here's to many more.


Perhaps also relevant: my list of Favorite Posts.

Image source: this post, which attributes the image to "anonymous."