Rachel Barenblat

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Name: Rachel Barenblat
Also Known As: rbarenblat, @velveteenrabbi
Occupation: former OTW board member (2009-2011), rabbi, writer
Medium: articles
Works: listed
Official Website(s): Velveteen Rabbi
Fan Website(s):
On Fanlore: Related pages


Rachel Barenblat is a longtime fan, and also a writer, blogger, and rabbi. She is co-founder of Inkberry, a literary arts nonprofit organization whose mission is to help every writer find his or her own voice. [1] She joined the the OTW board in 2009 and served one three-year term.

She sees fanworks (especially fanfiction) as fundamentally similar to the Jewish practice of midrash (writing stories to explore and explain Torah texts). She is author of 70 Faces, a collection of Torah poems (poems arising out of / in conversation with the weekly Torah portion: basically Biblical fanfic in poem form), Phoenicia Publishing, 2011.

As OTW Board Member

Over the years she lent a hand to DevMem and Communications; in 2010 she joined the Wiki Committee. In 2011 she co-chaired that committee with æþel.

In October 2011 she posted Some thoughts on (almost) finishing a three-year Board term at the OTW:

Being on the board of the OTW requires a leap of faith. One has to have faith first and foremost in the org's mission; in the org's projects; in the fans who are building, and who continue to work on building, the org's tools. And one has to have faith in the fans who will come next, who will continue the work which has already begun. Every now and then I take a step back and look at what's involved in making this org happen and keeping it alive, and I am more than a little bit awestruck by who we are and what we can do when we pull together as the volunteers and staffers of the OTW have done and continue to do.[2]

Her Board term ended at the end of 2011.


Bibliography of Fandom-Related Work

"Thinking of fan fiction as midrash is a useful alternative to Henry Jenkins's image of fan writers as textual poachers, an analogy he adopted from Michel de Certeau (Jenkins 1992, 24). Whereas Jenkins's analogy positions fans as serfs poaching game from the lord's estate in order to make meaning and to reclaim ownership of the storytelling that fans see as their birthright, the midrash analogy positions fans as respected interpreters, analagous both to the classical rabbis who for centuries interpreted scripture and to the modern midrashists who continue that work today."[3]
"The Jewish tradition of midrash (exegetical/interpretive fiction) parallels the fannish tradition of creating fan works in more ways than one. In the twentieth century, both contexts saw the rise of women's voices, shifting or commenting on androcentric canon—and in both contexts today, that gender binarism is giving way to a more complicated and multifaceted tapestry of priorities and voices."


  1. ^ Who We Are, accessed October 1, 2010.
  2. ^ Some thoughts on (almost) finishing a three-year Board term at the OTW, accessed November 11, 2011
  3. ^ Fan fiction and midrash: making meaning, accessed September 17, 2014