Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, named in 2016 by the Forward as one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis, was ordained as a rabbi in 2011 and as a mashpi’ah ruchanit (spiritual director) in 2012. From 2015 to 2017 she served as co-chair, with Rabbi David Markus, of ALEPH. In spring 2017 she served as interim Jewish chaplain to Williams College. Since 2011 Rachel has served as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel, a congregation in western Massachusetts. She is a Founding Builder at Bayit: Building Jewish.
She holds a BA in religion from Williams College and an MFA in Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars. In addition to several poetry chapbooks she is author of six book-length collections of poetry: 70 faces: Torah poems (Phoenicia Publishing, 2011), Waiting to Unfold (Phoenicia, 2013), Toward Sinai: Omer Poems (Velveteen Rabbi, 2016), Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda Press, 2016), Texts to the Holy (Ben Yehuda, 2018), and Crossing the Sea (Phoenicia, 2020.)
A Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, Rachel has served as alumna facilitator for the Emerging Jewish and Muslim Religious Leaders retreat organized by RRC‘s Office of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives and co-presented in 2016 with the Islamic Society of North America. Since 2003 she has blogged as The Velveteen Rabbi, and in 2008, TIME named her blog one of the top 25 sites on the internet.
Rachel was a regular contributor to Zeek magazine, “a Jewish journal of thought & culture,” from 2005-2015. Her work has also appeared in the Reform Judaism Blog, The Wisdom Daily, Lilith, The Texas Observer, The Jewish Daily Forward, and anthologies including The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (Bloomsbury), The Women’s Seder Sourcebook (Jewish Lights), and God? Jewish Choices for Struggling with the Ultimate (Torah Aura), among other places. Her downloadable Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach has been used around the world, and her slideshare machzor Holy at Home was used in communities around North America and Israel this year.
She has taught courses arising from the intersection of the literary life and the spiritual life at the Academy for Spiritual Formation (both two-year and five-day retreat programs), the National Havurah Institute’s winter retreat and Summer Institute (where she was digital Liturgist In Residence in 2020), the ALEPH Kallah, many congregations around New York and New England, and Beyond Walls, a writing program for clergy of many faiths at the Kenyon Institute.
Rabbi Pamela Wax
Rabbi Pamela Wax grew up in Livingston, NJ, attended Oberlin College, and worked as a journalist, an abortion counselor, a community activist, and a Hebrew school teacher before entering Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, from which she was ordained in 1994. She worked as a hospital chaplain before serving at Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams from 1996-2000. She then worked as the assistant director of adult Jewish education at the Union for American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC, now called the Union for Reform Judaism, the URJ).
Since 2003, she has served as the spiritual care coordinator at Westchester Jewish Community Services, running a Jewish Spiritual Healing Center where she offers pastoral counseling and facilitates spiritual support groups for bereavement, divorce, family estrangement, illness, and caregiving, as well as spiritual journeying groups such as Mussar, Wise Aging, and spiritual poetry.
Her essays on Judaism, spirituality, and women’s issues, as well as her poems, have been published broadly. Her first book of poetry, Walking the Labyrinth, inspired by her brother’s suicide in 2018, is available from Main Street Rag. Pam lives in the Bronx, NY and North Adams, MA with her husband, Chaim Bronstein. Her website www.pamelawax.com will soon be up and running!
Rabbi Wax leads CBI services once or twice each month and occasional adult educational programs.
Rabbi Jarah Greenfield
Rabbi Jarah Greenfield is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She has served congregations in Vermont, Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey. She teaches in a variety of secular and Jewish settings, works as a spiritual counselor for patients in hospice care, and is the Director of Education of Israel Congregation of Manchester. In her rabbinic and Jewish educational work of the past two decades, she has taught all ages, developed curricula and family education programs, run teacher training workshops, and helped guide leadership teams through collaborative visioning efforts. Rabbi Greenfield officiates life cycle events for those who identify as Jewish, interfaith, secular, multiracial, straight, and LGBTQI+.