[I’m lifting this out of the ALEPH mailing list]

Time Magazine recently named Velveteen Rabbi, the blog of ALEPH rabbinic student Rachel Barenblat, one of its top 25 blogs in its first-ever annual blog index. Velveteen Rabbi is the only religion blog on the list, which includes The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Boing Boing, among others.

Rachel started blogging in 2003. “I wanted to write about Judaism,” she says, “and to share both my love of Judaism and my learning about Judaism with a wider audience than I figured I could find in my small Massachusetts town.” The blog’s name is a reference to the children’s book by Margery Williams, as is its tagline, “When can I run and play with the real rabbis?”

“Writing Velveteen Rabbi helped strengthen my relationship with Judaism,” she says now. “I blogged about the process of applying to rabbinic school, and my readers rejoiced with me when I was accepted into the ALEPH rabbinic smicha program.”

Torah, poetry, and creative festival observances are among the blog’s most frequent subjects. Rachel’s favorite posts include “Facing impermanence,” an essay about her first experience serving on her shul’s chevra kadisha, and “Being visible,” an essay about wearing a kippah (or not.)

Rachel’s background is in poetry. After completing ALEPH’s Davenen Leadership Training Institute she began writing and posting d’var Torah poems (one poem each week, arising out of the parashat hashavua). But she’s best known, on the internet, for her Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach, “a creative and joyful haggadah” which is used by families around the world. This year (2008) she released version 6.0 — naturally, free for all, available on the blog.