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Tag: Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Jul 23, 2021

Why Is It So Important That G!D is One?

Shema Yisrael A-donai Elo-heinu A-donai Echad Listen Up, (Community of) Israel, A-donai is our G!D, A-donai is One! These are arguably the most famous 6 words in all of Judaism and they are found in this week’s parshah, Va’Etchanan. Have you ever asked yourself— Why is it so important in Judaism that there is only one unseen G!D and not many?

Jul 16, 2021

We Are the Foundation, the Brick and the Mortar

The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed twice—once ~2,500 years ago and after it was rebuilt, ~2,000 years ago again. Nowadays we mourn its destruction and the loss of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel on Tisha B’Av (9th of the Hebrew month of Av) which falls tomorrow night through Sunday.

Jul 9, 2021

Your Influence In The World

In this week’s Torah portion Matot Mas’ei, there’s a very interesting verse that can instruct us all in how to lead our lives today. The verse is Numbers 32:22, and just before it Moses says: do this and do that and if you do, you will... and here’s the verse: “Be clear or guiltless before God and before the people of Israel (i.e., your neighbors).” And the rabbis ask — why not just say be guiltless before G!D? Who cares about what other people think?

Jul 2, 2021

The Waves of Life

Sometimes it is helpful to focus in on the details—this is true in life and in learning Torah. When we pay close attention, we can find deep meaning in the subtleties of a smile or in noticing the filigreed pattern of a leaf’s veins just as we can find profound meaning or beauty in one verse—or even letter—of Torah. For each detail is a fractal, or at least a portion, of a larger reality and truth. Through paying attention to details we can connect to beauty and to meaning.

Jun 25, 2021

The Sword of Damocles

Like many of you, I have been riveted since yesterday to the news of the partial collapse of the Champlain South Tower in Surfside. My colleague, Ofi Osin-Cohen, the Director of Women’s Philanthropy for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, lived in the part of the Champlain South Tower that is still standing and thank G!D escaped the building. She described how difficult it was to leave, because all the exits were blocked by debris, and how fire rescue needed to send a ladder up to her 4th floor balcony so she, her husband and her neighbors could escape.

Jun 18, 2021

The Blessing of Water

Then Israel sang this song: "Spring up, O well-sing to it- The well which the chieftains dug, Which the nobles of the people started with maces, with their own staffs."... This small piece of poetry/song rarely receives attention in a portion packed with so many other powerful themes. However, it perfectly encapsulates the leitmotif of Parashat Hukkat-WATER. The word water is used over 20 times between Numbers 19-21, a huge number for such a small segment of Torah.

Jun 11, 2021

Differentiating Between Wants and Needs

The Torah portion of Korach is named for the rebellious Levite Korach who started a dispute over the issue of kedushah. The concept of kedushah is central in Judaism, and its meaning can have profound impact on the environment today. Kedushah, or the corresponding adjective kadosh, are usually translated obscurely as “sanctity” or “holy”; its real meaning is: devotion to a sublime ideal.

Jun 4, 2021

Resilience!

So what exactly is resilience? According to the American Psychological Association website, "Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress - such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences...

May 28, 2021

A Tale of Three Menorahs

Our parashah, BeHa’alotekha, contains one of the classic symbols of Jewish religion, the menorah. The menorah is a symbol that was absorbed from the outside culture but became a primary channel of Jewish teaching and values. This development itself illuminates the Jewish way through history.

May 21, 2021

Intimacy with the Divine

There are few texts from the Torah more universally invoked than Birkat Kohanim: the Priestly Benediction. We Jews use it all the time: at weddings, bat mitzvahs, preschool graduation ceremonies, Shabbat dinner tables. Indeed, it has become an integral element of our liturgy incorporated into the conclusion of the Amidah as part of the Birkat Shalom, the prayer for peace, in traditional services.

May 14, 2021

Passover to Shavuot, The Spring "High Holy Days"

One reason is the sheer number of holidays that parallels the Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemeni Atzeret/Simchat Torah ‘deluge’ of September / October. We have Pesach, Yom HaShoah, Yom HaAtzma’ut, Lag BaOmer and Shavuot all in a seven-week period.

May 7, 2021

Chosen To Be Choosers

“If you follow My laws and faithfully observe my commandments... I will look with favor upon you, and make you fertile and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you. I will establish My abode in your midst, and I will not spurn you. I will be ever present in your midst I will be your God and you shall be My people.” (Parashat Bechukkotai, Leviticus Chapter 26)

Apr 30, 2021

The Texture of Time

Several summers ago, my husband and I took our children to see the movie “Inside Out.” I remember sitting through the animated film next to our children, and as the movie ended, the credits ran, and the lights began to come up in the theater, David and I both sat there, frozen in our seats, tears streaming down our cheeks. Our children stared at us in confusion. Why in the world were we crying?

Apr 23, 2021

Sarah Halimi and George Floyd: After Their Deaths…

One of the things that American Jews, especially Jews born after World War II, take for granted is that Jewish life is not cheap here. Jews in America are considered equal citizens with the right to protection by the government and when Jews are harmed, our government will respond and protect us as it should for any other American.

Apr 16, 2021

WHY I LOVE ISRAEL - AND WHY YOU SHOULD, TOO

I first fell in love with Jewish books at Camp Eisner, the Reform Jewish camp in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Almost fifty summers ago, as a young teenager, I was assigned the duty of cleaning out the camp library. I did a terrible job. The truth is cleaning has never been my strong suit. Reading is.

Apr 9, 2021

Sometimes A Mitzvah Really Calls To You

This week's Parashat Shemini contains a long exposition of the laws of kashrut, a practice I didn't grow up with. Though my father z”l loved tradition in general, he was the first one in his family to have a non-kosher home, saying: "" We're American! What is this craziness? We should eat like Americans!

Apr 2, 2021

THE BREAD OF FREEDOM

Matzah is the hard bread that Israelites initially ate in the desert because they plunged into liberty without delaying, “since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay; nor had they prepared provisions for themselves” (Exodus 12:39). However, matzah carries a more complex message than “Freedom now!”

Mar 26, 2021

Imagining Liberation

The obligation is not only to recall the Exodus but to relive it. On the one hand, rituals of remembrance on festivals are commonplace: We light a menorah on Hanukkah to remember the miracle of the oil. We circle the bimah on Sukkot with the four species to remember a ritual performed on Sukkot in the Temple. On the 9th of Av, we read the Book of Lamentations to remember the destruction of the Temple.

Mar 19, 2021

Why Is It Important to Tell Stories?

This week's Torah portion, Ki Tisa, begins with Moshe/Moses atop Mount Sinai, communing with God. The last thing God says to Moshe is a set of verses we now know as V'shamru [Exodus 31:16-17], commanding us to keep Shabbat throughout the ages as a sign of covenant with God.Then God gives Moshe the two tablets, inscribed by God's own hand.

Mar 12, 2021

Having It All

This week's Torah portion, Ki Tisa, begins with Moshe/Moses atop Mount Sinai, communing with God. The last thing God says to Moshe is a set of verses we now know as V'shamru [Exodus 31:16-17], commanding us to keep Shabbat throughout the ages as a sign of covenant with God.Then God gives Moshe the two tablets, inscribed by God's own hand.