by the Forward

Rachel Barenblat

Congregation Beth Israel | North Adams, Massachusetts | 41 years old

Through the gift of her poetry and prose, as posted on her highly popular “Velveteen Rabbi” blog site, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat inspires thousands of followers all around the world in addition to her congregants at Congregation Beth Israel. I would never say that I have been a “poetry person,” but I find that Rachel’s gifts with words have the ability to reach right into the deepest longings of my soul. Whether it be a reflection on a specific Jewish practice or a poem on the changing of the seasons, Rachel always has the right words to make us all think a bit deeper and look at our lives through a different, more perceptive lens. In addition to her writing, Rachel is a highly gifted and sought-after teacher, mashpia (spiritual director) and national Jewish leader. She inspires me every day.

— Shoshanna Schechter-Shaffin

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