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Tag: Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

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

#BlessingsIRL

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.

May 19, 2023

There Is A Place For Us

“Every person has their time, and every thing has its place.” Pirkei Avot 4:3. It isn’t just the soloist who has a time and place, but every member of the orchestral is vital to the whole. “Count the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral houses, according to the number of their names” Num. 1:2.

May 12, 2023

Mutual Responsibilities

If the laws of the Jubilee year refer to the emancipation of only Hebrew servants, why does the passage proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof? Is not this liberty, in fact, referring to only a small percentage of the population?

May 5, 2023

The More Torah, The More Life

Parshat Emor teaches us about the festivals that make up the Jewish year. From the second night of Pesach, we begin counting upwards towards Shavuot where we celebrate the receiving of Torah at Mount Sinai. The ritual of counting days has become a spiritual practice where we imagine ourselves on a profound journey towards Sinai.

Apr 28, 2023

An Ancient Ritual with Modern Meaning: the "Scapegoat"

Throughout history, human beings have the tragic tendency to divide the world between "G!D" and "Azazel" or "the devil" (whatever that means to a particular person or culture). Then add to that oversimplification, the psychological need to apportion blame and fault to something / someone other than self / culture / country, and we end up with a deadly mix.

Apr 21, 2023

Freedom of Speech: a Right and a Huge Responsibility

This week’s parsha, Parashat Tazria, is paired with Parashat Metzora, because both deal with the identification and treatment of someone who contracts a condition called “tsara’at.” The translation of this is leprosy, although it is spiritual rather than biological in nature…

Apr 14, 2023

Silence in the Face of Horror

The Shoah is a part of our history that often impels us to speak out loudly against antisemitism, hate, and genocide wherever it lives. And it is also a part of our history that sometimes inspires silence as we contemplate the horrors that humankind is capable of inflicting on itself and the tragedies members of our community have endured.

Mar 31, 2023

Pesach: An Opportunity to Reflect

This Shabbat is Shabbat HaGadol, the Sabbath immediately preceding Pesach, our Festival celebrating Freedom and Redemption. We are preparing to gather with family, friends, and neighbors around our Seder tables. We are cleaning our homes and preparing our festival foods and celebrations. Many of us find this a season of hitbonenut / reflection as we review our lives since Pesach one year ago.

Mar 24, 2023

Calling: A Gesture of Affection

So much of Leviticus, and Bamidbar (Numbers) after it, is about approaching and drawing away. Moments when you offer something (Korban), moments when… you must withdraw. A sacred dance between Taharah, pure closeness, and Tumah, the state of extreme distance. Slowly, steadily, step-by-step, we all get chances to try and feel that we are also called to be close and grateful.

Mar 17, 2023

Does Art Civilize Us?

After all, the Ten Commandments itself contains a prohibition against graven images and the Torah forbids representation of any astral bodies. Modern Jews have simply assumed that Jews never made representations of people, animals, or divine beings because such art would violate our stringent standards against idolatry.

Mar 10, 2023

When You Take...

Moshe has led the Israelites out of slavery to this very important moment. G-D has split the Red or Reed Sea, fed everyone from the sky with manna and organized the people in such a way that they were well taken care of in every aspect of their daily lives, all while roaming in the desert.

Mar 3, 2023

Do Clothes Make…the Torah?

Our parsha this week is called Tetzaveh and is taken from the Book of Shemot / Exodus. It goes into great detail about the vestments (i.e., the sacred clothing) worn by the Kohain Gadol (High Priest)- a crown, a breast plate, a robe, a sash and a fringed tunic with little bells on the bottom, among other items.

Feb 24, 2023

We are Equal and Unique

When it comes to the specific faculties of the soul—intelligence, emotion, wisdom, kindness, and willpower – everyone is unique… . However, the foundation of both the structure and relationship with G-d, as well as the power of commitment and devotion, is the same for all of us. Everyone is equal in their ability to dedicate themselves to G-d, but the circumstances of the relationship is a result of our own personality, and therefore, unique to each of us.