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Tag: Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Sep 29, 2023

Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret: the External and the Internal

The Torah instructs us that following the celebration of the seven days of Sukkot,"the eighth day shall be a time of Atzeret [translated as “retreat”] for you when you shall do no mundane work." What is the significance of this eighth day [called Atzeret]? And why does it follow the seven days of Sukkot?

Sep 22, 2023

Math and Fungus

Most of the time, we’re on autopilot. With everything that life throws at us, it has to be that way. So we see things only on a superficial level as we whizz by. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we are called to look at life differently. We are encouraged to turn off the autopilot. We stop, think and analyze. We admit, regret and fix.

Sep 14, 2023

The Call of the Shofar

As the only communal Jewish organization in Miami striving to improve the quality of Jewish education at every level, CAJE is aware, prepared and ready to act on the voice calling us to keep pushing for greater excellence, for further transformation, for lasting impact on behalf of the Jewish people.

Sep 8, 2023

Bring Your Full Self

The Slonimer Rebbe, from a volume called, Mayanot Netzach, teaches that, “You stand before God this day — all of you,” meaning that when we stand before God, the entirety of our lives, the entirety of who we are and what we have done, stands before God.

Sep 1, 2023

Blessings Will Come

The Klausenberger Rebbe was well known for re-settling those of his Chasidim who had survived the Holocaust in and around the Beth Moses Hospital in Brooklyn. So, one morning in 1952 on the Shabbat of Ki Tavo, this week’s Torah portion, I set out from my home to be in the presence of a truly holy man.

Aug 25, 2023

When Forgetting Is a Mitzvah

This week we concentrate on one of the many mitzvot in the parsha (Ki Teitzei), one that is easily overlooked but that contains a monumental life lesson. Torah is mostly concerned with remembering: Remembering our Exodus from Egypt, remembering the merit of our forefathers… Memory is an integral feature of our faith because it grounds us by constantly reminding us from whence we came and where we are headed. There is, however, one mitzvah that is the antithesis of remembering…

Aug 18, 2023

Unfinished Business

There are several very powerful suggestions in Parshat Shoftim as to precisely what it is we should be looking for during the month of Elul as we turn toward the gates of the soul in preparation for Teshuvah / Returning. These suggestions come, oddly enough, in the laws of war...

Aug 11, 2023

Forgiveness of Debts

The new month of Elul [this coming Wednesday night] famously opens us to a time of renewed intimacy. As we gear up for the Yamim Noraim, the holiest days of the year [known as the High Holy Days], we enter into the holy of holies of the Jewish heart.

Aug 4, 2023

Intentional Vulnerability

“Circumcise the foreskin of your heart and stiffen your necks no more,” implores Moses (Deut. 10:16), attempting to convince the Israelites to open themselves up — and cleave to the God who so passionately, and often inexplicably, loves them… In its exhortation to lay naked one’s heart and make supple one’s throat, it asks us to lower our defenses, to surrender, to make the leap of faith that is absolutely necessary to live a fully realized and awakened existence.

Jul 28, 2023

You Can Go the Distance – But Don't

“Within the limits of the law” is the principle referred to by the rabbis of the Talmud as Lifnim meshurat hadin and it is deployed by the Talmud to describe cases when the Sages, the masters of Jewish law, stop short of deploying the full measure of their power and don’t prescribe the entirety of what the law would entitle in the situation.

Jul 21, 2023

The Shelter of Shabbat

The morning I wrote this... In the eastern sky there was the tiniest sliver of the crescent moon, just rising, heart-breakingly beautiful. It was just a few days before the month of Av began, with that same crescent moon setting in the west. We are heading towards the end of the Three Weeks, the period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, the season of loss and horror in our mythic history.

Jul 14, 2023

Killing Midianites?!

This week Parsha Mattot-Maasei contains some very difficult passages about the Israelites being commanded to kill the Midianites. When the Israelites go to battle, they kill all the Midianite males as well as their 5 kings and they also kill Balaam, the prophet who was supposed to curse the Israelites but instead ended up blessing them.

Jul 7, 2023

The Hallmark of a Just and Righteous Society

In this week's Torah portion, Pinchas, we read a wonderful account of how Judaism shifted the world’s paradigm on how to treat people, especially women.

Jun 30, 2023

Critique Carefully

The second portion of this week’s double parshah of Chukat/Balak is centered around the character of Bilaam, the seer - and prophet-for-hire -- those who he cursed would indeed be cursed; those who he blessed would indeed be blessed. The Moabite king Balak hires Bilaam to join him and curse the Israelites, whose power and number intimidated him.

Jun 23, 2023

Korach Walks Among Us

The rabbis of the Talmud taught that Korach was a Torah scholar or Talmid Chacham because of the Halachic questions he asked Moses. They also taught that Korach was wealthy, but used his wealth, not for the benefit of the Israelites, but to further his personal goal of usurping Moses.

Jun 16, 2023

Curiosity Over Assumptions

Imagine getting an email from the President of Israel inviting you to attend a gathering called Voice of the People Strategy Lab: The President's Initiative for a Worldwide Jewish Dialogue that would be the first step towards healing the rifts within the Jewish people. Who could say no? Not me!

Jun 9, 2023

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.

Jun 2, 2023


This week’s Dvar Torah on parsha Naso -- which contains the very well-known Birkat Cohanim or priestly blessing -- is adapted from the speech that Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar gave in acceptance of the JPRO Miami Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jun 2, 2023

JPRO Honors Rabbi Zarren-Zohar

This Thursday, JPRO Miami honored CAJE’s Executive Director Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar with the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award. Lily Serviansky, Federation’s Campaign Chair and a past President of CAJE, presented the award to Rabbi Efrat. We are sharing Lily’s excellent speech.

May 25, 2023

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

As we observe Shavuot tonight through Shabbat, G!D-willing with family and friends, I’d like to share with you what I learned at the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) retreat that I was invited to attend last week, and how it directly relates to perceptions of Judaism and Torah in our day schools.