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Tag: Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Jan 20, 2023

“Disability” Is An Ability

The Holy One, Blessed be God, stamped all people with the seal of the first human, and not one of them is similar to another. Therefore, each and every person is obligated to say: The world was created for me” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

Jan 13, 2023

The Constriction of the Spirit

If there is any place that represents a toxic environment, it is the Torah’s portrayal of the crucible of Egypt, which not only broke backs, but destroyed souls and spirits. It is a world in which people may survive for a while, but certainly cannot thrive. In this week’s Parashat Shemot, Moses comes to the Hebrew elders with a clarion call of liberation.

Jan 6, 2023

Waiting for God: Expressing Frustration in Prayer

Where is God in my life and why am I stuck in a difficult place? Will God ever intervene on my behalf, and help me—and all of us—come to a better place? What if I am skeptical if God can rescue at all?

Dec 30, 2022

Store Your Grain in the Good Times

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” wrote Shakespeare. For an elegant enactment of this insight, we can look at the story of Joseph, where his interpretations came not only from prophetic powers, but from the story of his own life.

Dec 23, 2022

Ritual as the Expression of Wonder

Many Jews see Hanukkah as the Jewish Christmas, or the childish celebration of the miracle they're not even convinced took place. But here, too, the tradition seeks not mechanical compliance, but marvel, awe, and wonder at the "miracle" of Jewish history and survival.

Dec 16, 2022


Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh (19th c Germany) explains that another cognate meaning of the root of the word Chanukah is “chinuch” (education) and the core of the celebration on Chanukah is the concept of education.

Dec 9, 2022

Sibling Rivalry

This week’s parsha, Vayishlach, begins with Yaakov (Jacob) returning to the Land of Israel with his family and all his possessions. He knows that he will encounter his brother Eisav (Esau) on the way and the last time he saw his brother, Eisav (Esau) wanted to kill him...

Dec 2, 2022

Art Basel Shabbat

Art Basel is here and even the most philistine Miamian is out and about commenting on the art they see. For centuries, Jews created art, but it was almost exclusively for practical purposes — beautiful mezzuzot cases, lovely candelabras for Shabbat and holiday candle lighting, seder plates, and the like — because of the second commandment prohibition in Exodus 20:4 against graven images...

Nov 23, 2022

Turn Hate Into Hope

Pittsburgh and Charlottesville, Poway and Monsey — a litany of names associated with antisemitism over the past five years. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points out an interesting phrase in Parashat Toldot that foreshadows the antisemitism we are seeing today.

Nov 18, 2022

“I Will”

I once tasked a group of leaders to come up with a six-word mission statement in the spirit of Ernest Hemingway’s famous six-word short story. A person in the back of the room shared, in six words, a life lesson he carried with him from his father: “Always do the right thing. Period.” These six simple words continue to give him moral clarity. Rebecca, in this week’s sedra [Chayei Sarah], has her own two words of clarity: “I will.”

Nov 11, 2022

Tending the Fire of the Akeidah

How are we meant to respond to God’s instruction to sacrifice Yitzhak / Isaac and Avraham’s willingness to obey? We aren’t the first to be thrown by this scene. An early midrash relates Sarah’s pain, wail, and ultimate death when she heard of what transpired.

Nov 4, 2022

Lech Lecha: Go Forth to an Unknown Place

This week’s parsha begins with God telling Avram to leave everything he knows for a place that is unknown. God uses the phrase “lech lecha / go forth…” Let’s look at this phrase in its wider context: The words “lech lecha” appear as bookends on either side of Avram’s spiritual journey...

Oct 28, 2022

Staying Afloat in a World of Loss

The resounding focus on loss of life in the Flood at the beginning of the parashah reemerges in a more contained and subtle way, as the end of the parashah relates that Avram and Sarai could not bear children.

Oct 21, 2022

A Spiritual Refresh: Shehechiyanu

This week’s parsha is Bereisheet / Genesis and just yesterday, CAJE was able to host its first in-person board retreat in 3 years—yay! So there was a lot to celebrate. We began with this dvar torah on the Shehechiyanu prayer, which is also very appropriate for the beginning of our Jewish year as well.

Oct 14, 2022

Sukkot: The Power of Cooperation

I built my first sukkah when our three children were young. It would not have happened without the help of a friend named Kevin... We agreed to build two identical sukkot, with each of us helping the other, channeling a bit of Amish ethic.

Oct 7, 2022

Keep It Simple

You shall live in sukkot seven days; all citizens of Israel shall live in sukkot, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I, YHVH, your God. (Vayikra/ Leviticus 23:42-43)

Sep 30, 2022

Hurricanes, Hijabs & Yom Kippur

Those of us living in Miami for a while could tell that the rain falling on Tuesday and Wednesday was no ordinary rain. We felt the barometric pressure in our bodies. We saw the gusts of wind, which we knew were “bands” on the outer edge of Hurricane Ian.

Sep 23, 2022

Children Are Our Shofars

Why do the Rabbis feel it is important to know that creation happened on Rosh Hashanah? By linking the creation of the world in the macro sense, with our own personal stock-taking in the micro sense, we are all given the opportunity to understand our infinite potential as human beings and recreate ourselves anew year after year.

Sep 16, 2022

Rita Spector Connector with Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Last week the Rita Spector Connector’s featured guest, with a focus on spirituality, was our own head of CAJE, Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar.

Sep 16, 2022

The Queen’s Legacy

This Dvar Torah on Parashat Ki Tavo was written by the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Ephraim Mirvis in tribute to the legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.