A video teaching on "in-between" times and spiritual practice

When we were in Cuba, the rabbis on the trip asked Cuban Jewish communities what they most needed from us. They asked for regular video teachings. That led to Bayit's latest initiative: monthly video teachings, translated into Spanish, for the Jewish communities of Cuba and anyone else who's interested.

Our first Spanish-language teaching went live in December, featuring Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer of Cuba America Jewish Mission teaching about Chanukah. You can find that teaching on Builder's Blog here. Our second teaching is now live; this one features me, talking about in-between times, spiritual life, and spiritual practice. Unlike R' Sunny I'm not fluent in Spanish, so my "vort" is recorded in English. Rabbi Juan Mejia is graciously translating our work into Spanish, so my video has Spanish subtitles!

If you're interested, you can watch the video here: 

Palabras del TorĂ¡ / a "vort" of Torah - R' Rachel Barenblat from Bayit: Building Jewish on Vimeo.

Or, if you'd prefer to read the teaching, the text is available online in Spanish and in English -- just click through to Builders Blog.


A Vision of Better: now in video

A few folks asked whether there is a video or audio recording of my sermon from Rosh Hashanah morning

Here's video (and audio) -- taken from the synagogue's Facebook Live stream, so the quality isn't fantastic, but I'm happy to share.



(If you can't see the embedded video, you can go directly to it here.)

May our journey through these Ten Days of Teshuvah clarify our vision and strengthen us to do our work in the world.

Poetry + video = transformative works

I've been remiss in not mentioning this (though perhaps I can be forgiven for that, given the intensity of the High Holiday season), but The Poetry Storehouse is having its first anniversary and is celebrating that with a contest.

The Poetry Storehouse is a curated collection of "great contemporary poems for creative remix." All of the poets who have shared their work there are delighted to have our works transformed, both through being read aloud and through visual media (sound collage, videopoems, art, etc.) The first anniversary contest offers options for remixers (create a remix based on any poem currently on the site) and for poets (write a poem in response to one of the three featured videos,) and the winning entries will be published and shared widely.

If you are a poet or a remix artist, check it out!

And on a related note, I'm delighted to be able to share that Dave Bonta has created a gorgeous remix which features one of my poems ("Ethics of the Mothers") and a poem by January Gill O'Neil along with music by Serge Seletskyy and video from a variety of sources, including some which Dave shot himself.

Ethics of the Mothers/Prayer: poems by R' Rachel Barenblat and January Gill O'Neil from Dave Bonta on Vimeo.

It's a delight to see my words given new life in this way. In watching the video, I experience my own poem anew; the images Dave chose are ones I would never have imagined, and they work beautifully. This is a stunning videopoem. Go and watch!

Video conversation about this week's Torah portion

I had the recent pleasure of participating in a video interview with Shmuel Rosner, the man behind the section of the Jewish Journal called Rosner's Domain. The interview is part of his weekly Torah talk series.

Shmuel has hosted several of my friends and colleagues in this interview series, among them fellow Rabbi Without Borders alumni Rabbi Jason Miller, Rabbi Josh Yuter, and Rabbi Rachel Ain, as well as Rabbis Rick Jacobs, Sharon Brous, and Eliot Dorff. I'm honored to be in this fine company!

We spoke for 8-10 minutes about this week's Torah portion, parashat Tzav; I shared this week's Torah poem from 7o faces; and we talked about Hasidic interpretations of sacrifices, the anointing / ordination of Aaron and his sons, and more.

The video is now live, and you can watch it here:

If you'd like to leave a comment, feel free to do so here at Velveteen Rabbi, or to go to Rosner's Domain where the piece originates: Rosner's Torah-Talk: Parashat Tzav With Rabbi Rachel Barenblat. Enjoy!


My first video vort: on the bedtime shema

One of the things we did together at the second meeting of my Rabbis Without Borders fellows cohort was work together, in small groups, on making video vorts. "Vort" is the Yiddish word for "word;" a vort, in this context, is a word of Torah, a wee spoken-word teaching.

I haven't experimented with video. The other social media we'd been talking about -- twitter, Facebook, etc -- are pretty solidly in my wheelhouse, but video is a new one for me. And it turned out to be fun. Maybe because we were doing it together, as friends and colleagues, and all of us were stretching ourselves in one way or another.

Several of us showed our videos to our cohort, and talked about them -- who we thought the audience of each one was meant to be, what worked and what we could do better next time, etc.  Showing my video to my cohort emboldened me, so I decided to share it here, too, even though it isn't perfect.

Embedded below: Two minutes of me talking about one of my favorite mitzvot, the bedtime shema. I describe the mitzvah, explain how it manifests in my life, and talk about how I know when it's working.

If you can't see the embedded video, above, you can watch the video here at YouTube. Let me know what you think: is this a useful way for me to share occasional very short teachings here?